The Indian government has launched Mission SAGAR to provide medical assistance in countries like the Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros. Mission Security and Growth for All in the Region is in line with India’s role as the first responder in the Indian Ocean.
The mission was launched after China sent medical assistance to every country in India’s neighbourhood as part of its Health Silk Road initiative, which is an extension of its Belt and Road Initiative into the global health sector.
Chinese President Xi had proposed jointly establishing ‘Health Silk Road’ with the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 2017. China is now using the COVID-19 outbreak as an opportunity to carry of the Health Silk Road initiative to increase its presence across Asia.
Countering Chinese efforts, the Indian government has sent its naval ship Kesari with two medical assistance teams on board, consignments of COVID-19-related essential medicine and essential food items.
The Medical Assistance Teams will be deployed in Mauritius and Comoros, helping their governments deal with the COVID-19 emergency and with dengue fever in the case of Comoros. A team of medical personnel has also been sent to the Maldives to augment the preparedness of the Maldivian Government to fight the pandemic.
Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and the Seychelles will be receiving COVID-19-related essential medicines, while Maldives will receive about 600 tonnes of food from India. A special consignment of Ayurvedic medicine is also being sent to Mauritius.
Madagascar and Comoros will receive Hydroxychloroquine tablets, which have already delivered to Mauritius, Maldives and the Seychelles following their requests for the drug.
China has been maintaining its presence in Myanmar by providing medical help and sending medical teams to help the South-east Asian nation deal with the pandemic.
Laos and Pakistan have also been receiving supplies and medical teams from China. Nepal has also been dependent on China for medical supplies amid the outbreak. The Beijing Hospital of Tibetan Medicine has donated "Nine-flavor epidemic prevention powder" sachets to Nepal and other Belt and Road (BRI) countries.
On Sunday, Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a scuffle following a transgression by China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).