Indian envoy calls for humane approach to migrants

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Venkat Raman

Venkat Raman

Auckland, August 16, 2021

India’s High Commissioner Muktesh Pardeshi with Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield at the
Indian Newslink Lecture held at Mahatma Gandhi Centre in Auckland on Monday, August 16, 2021

India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand  Muktesh Pardeshi has called on the New Zealand government to be more humane and ensure the return of stranded migrant workers and their families back in India.

Speaking at the Eleventh Annual Indian Newslink Lecture with Director-General of Health Dr Ashely Bloomfield on Monday, August 16, 2021 at Mahatma Gandhi Centre in Auckland, he said that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had shared her vision on August 12, 2021 for the reconnection of New Zealand with the rest of the world.

Remarkable resilience

“As New Zealand has shown remarkable resilience in dealing with the pandemic, it also needs to show the way by showing a better understanding of the enormous life-threatening challenges faced by deserving students and split families. A quick rollout of vaccination and expanded governance challenge before us is about improving the quality of life of everyone in an inclusive and sustainable manner,” he said.

Mr Pardeshi said that it was heart-rending to hear the anguish of families separated for the past 20 months- with one person living in New Zealand and their spouses, children and other immediate family members leading anxious lives in India.

“During these hard times, the High Commission has been at the forefront of looking after the welfare of the distressed citizens in New Zealand. Both countries and their people have stood together in solidarity. In our humanitarian endeavours, we have received support from all quarters- from the New Zealand government as well as from the Indian community organisations. I take this occasion to record my deepest appreciation to all,” he said.

Reflecting on the Lecture delivered by Dr Bloomfield earlier, Mr Pardeshi described him as ‘The Executive Star-Face of New Zealand’s response against the Covid-19 pandemic.’

“The outbreak of this pandemic has been one of the biggest challenges humankind has ever come across. Even affluent countries with superior healthcare infrastructure have found it extremely difficult to handle the smite of the virus. In India, the sheer size of the population made it all the more difficult to tackle a pandemic of the magnitude of Covid-19, which spreads rapidly in densely populated places,” he said.

India’s High Commissioner Muktesh Pardeshi giving his ‘Reflections’ to Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield’s

Lecture at the Indian Newslink Lecture Series 2021 on Monday, August 16, 2021

Massive Evacuation

Mr Pardeshi said that India was one of the first countries to start a massive programme of evacuation on May 7, 2020 to bring back stranded Indians in various parts of the world. So far, more than 2.3 million Indians have been evacuated in about 15,000 flights.

“India is one of the first countries to develop indigenous Covid-19 Vaccine- Covaxin. It has been developed by the Indian Pharmaceutical Company Bharat Biotech. India was one of the first among a very few countries to take the humanitarian initiative to provide Covid-19 Vaccine to deprived nations around the world under the Programme called, ‘Vaccine Maitri.’ It is a humanitarian and commercial initiative and as of May 9, 2021, India delivered about 66.3 million doses of Vaccine to 95 countries. Of these, 10.7 million doses were gifted to 47 countries,” he said.

Stating that India has set a target of vaccinating its entire eligible population by the end of 2021, Mr Pardeshi announced that as of August 15, 2021, more than 540 million doses were administrated.

“This is not to suggest that India’s battle against the pandemic has been very smooth. During the unprecedented second wave, the country faced a severe shortage of oxygen cylinders, hospital beds and even vaccines. The highest number of cases in a single day was 414,188, reported on May 7, 2021. But with an all-out effort by the government and frontline workers since then, there has been a rapid decline in the daily cases.

“After the unprecedented second wave, the country has slowly but surely been getting into normalcy mode. India’s economy, like various others, suffered a massive jolt due to the pandemic. The Covid-19 crisis has shown that growth must be both inclusive and sustainable in the long term. We are looking at a ‘V-Shape’ recovery of the economy post-Covid and all the stakeholders firmly believe that the Indian economy has the potential to achieve it,” he said.

More than 350 people attended the Lecture including Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan (who gave curtain-raiser speech), National Party MP for Botany Christopher Luxon (Master of Ceremonies), Auckland Mayor Phil Goff (Welcome Address) and Health International Collaborative and Health TRx Chief Executive Professor Anil Thapliyal (Concluding Remarks).

Oaks Property Management, ManageMyHealth, Radio Tarana and Link2 Group were Title Sponsors and Manukau Institute of Technology, Universal Granite and Marble, Orb360 and Auckland Indian Association were Sponsors.

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