The first consignment of Indian-made vaccines against COVID-19 arrived in Kuwait at the start of February. Commenting on the delivery and Kuwait’s response to the vaccines, the Indian Ambassador to Kuwait H.E. Sibi George said that this reflected the long and close friendship, and strong ties between the two countries.
Ambassador Sibi George was speaking in an exclusive interview with The Times Kuwait on a wide range of topics covering the long enduring cordial relations between India and Kuwait.
“Two hundred thousand doses of the COVISHIELD vaccine manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India, arrived in Kuwait on 01 February 2021. The timely delivery has been welcomed by all sections of the Kuwaiti society, both government and citizens. I have received so many phone calls and messages from our friends in Kuwait after the arrival of this Made in India vaccine,” he stated.
He added that, “India and Kuwait have been collaborating closely since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to jointly fight this deadly virus. A 15-member rapid response team comprising doctors, specialists and para medical personnel, also visited Kuwait in April 2020 to join hands with their compatriots here and collectively fight the pandemic.”
“Supply of vaccines to the friendly State of Kuwait is a natural progression of mutual support and cooperation in this collective fight. Concerned entities from both the sides have worked closely to ensure smooth and timely delivery of vaccines. We will continue this cooperation till we comprehensively and successfully defeat this pandemic,” he noted
Pointing to India’s contribution of vaccines and medicines to countries around the world to help them in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian envoy noted that India, as the ‘Pharmacy of the World’, has been helping the world to overcome the COVID challenge by sending its Made in India vaccines abroad. In response to requests from various countries and in keeping with India’s stated commitment to use India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity to help all of humanity fight the Covid pandemic, India has been supplying vaccines worldwide.
“As of today, India has provided 5.6 million doses of Made in India coronavirus vaccines under grant assistance and 10 million doses under commercial supplies to a number of countries, including to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, the UAE, Brazil, Morocco, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Algeria, Kuwait and South Africa. In the coming weeks, Indian vaccines are scheduled to reach CARICOM (Caribbean Community) countries, Pacific Island States, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Mongolia and many others.
Returning to the discussion on India Kuwait relations and the fact the two countries will be celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations in June, the ambassador remarked: “This year is an important milestone in our bilateral relationship as we celebrate 60 years of establishment of diplomatic relations. India was one of the first countries to have recognized Kuwait’s sovereignty, only moments after the declaration of Kuwait’s independence in 1961 and immediately established diplomatic relations with the friendly State of Kuwait.”
“India and Kuwait share age old, historic bilateral relations, which have not only stood the test of time but have also blossomed into a vibrant partnership. I would like to call it a ‘Long Term Dynamic Partnership’. The relationship is strongly underpinned by trade and people-to-people linkages. It is a very special relationship for India. Kuwait is part of India’s extended neighborhood and the prosperity and progress of this region is vital for India’s progress and development.
“Our business relationship needs to be transformed from a buyer–seller relationship to a mutually beneficial deeper economic partnership. There are so many complementarities and synergies between India and Kuwait which when explored and realized to their true potential will unleash the latent potential of our two peoples and the conducive ecosystems for mutual benefit and growth.”
Since his arrival in the country, Ambassador George has increased interactions with the community, through weekly Open Houses and other initiatives. Elaborating on these steps to take cooperation and collaboration with the community to new heights, the ambassador noted: “One of the first steps that I took after joining the Mission in Kuwait was to start an Open House. It helped me to personally meet with the community at all levels, interact with them and also to understand the issues involved closely and directly from them.
He pointed out “At the same time, I do not see these open houses as a grievance redressal mechanism alone. It is much more than that. Of course, I look forward to listening to any grievances, comments and suggestions at these Open Houses, and those with unresolved grievances and difficulties are our priorities, and we will try to address all their concerns. But I would also like these open houses to be a platform to disseminate information on the activities of the Embassy in Kuwait, to bring in more transparency in our functioning.”
“This direct engagement with the community is very important, particularly when we are dealing with the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. In Kuwait, we have seen how hundreds of associations and groups, small and big, came together to help each other. The crisis is still not over. We in the Embassy will continue to work with the community to address the challenges faced by our community and also to spread the message to our people not to panic, to remain calm and confident. Our 24×7 helplines at the embassy are active. We will also continue to improve the Consular services of the Mission and keep its activities transparent,” he noted.