Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 9
US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi exchanged pleasantries over India’s permission to allow exports of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and Paracetamol to the US besides several other countries.
Both countries thus closed a brief period of divergence which began on April 4 when India banned previously contracted shipments of HCQ for which US companies had made full advance payments. This was also the day when Trump called up Modi and later revealed that he had sought a reversal of this notification. Two days later Trump said that though he expected Modi to allow HCQ exports to the US, there could be retaliation if New Delhi did otherwise.
That spell of acrimony ended when Trump put up an effusive and pleasant front by thanking Modi, India and the Indian people for the decision on HCQ. “Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends. Thank you India and Indian people for decision on HCQ. Will not be forgotten! Thank you PM Modi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, in this fight!: US Pres Donald Trump,’’ tweeted Trump.
Modi responded by agreeing with Trump that “times like these bring friends closer”. The India-US partnership, he added, is stronger than ever and “India shall do everything possible to help humanity’s fight against COVID-19. We shall win this together’’.
The exchanges by the two most followed leaders on social media sent Twitter in a tizzy. Modi’s tweet collected 1.35 lakh likes and around 27,000 retweets while Trump’s tweet broke the counter and was last heading for the four lakh “likes” mark and breaking the one lakh retweet mark.
“India’s supplies of medicines, especially HCQ and paracetamol to several countries, including the US, Israel, Gulf, neighbours, etc confirm our role as first provider and help in global fight against Covid,” noted Sanjay Bhattacharya, Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs.
HCQ was an also-ran in the Indian pharmaceutical growth story, accounting for less than 3 per cent of total exports. Its fate turned after Trump said it was a miracle cure following which India prohibited its export on March 25 and tightening the domestic retail distribution rules the next day. But what specifically raised American ire was the April 4 notification that banned even pre-contracted shipments of HCQ.
India has also relented in the case of paracetamol as well; it had banned this antibiotic on March 3, but cleared it for case-by-case exports on April 6, the day External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a conversation.
HCQ has now become the drug most in demand for to battle Covid, evident from Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro making the announcement in his address to the nation. “As an outcome of my direct conversation with PM of India, we will receive, by Saturday, raw materials to continue production of HCQ so we can treat patients of COVID-19 as well as of lupus, malaria, and arthritis. I thank PM Modi and the people of India for such timely help to the people of Brazil,” said Bolsonaro who like Trump is fighting with his back to the wall after having delayed a response.
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