India's preparedness in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic should give the people confidence, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said

The world was counting on India to make COVID-19 vaccines accessible and affordable to all, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday.

Pointing out that India was at the heart of international and multilateral collaborations when it comes to reliable vaccines, he referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's commitment to the United Nations to make the vaccines accessible to all.

He was delivering the keynote address at the third edition of the Deccan Dialogue which had the theme ‘Crisis and Cooperation: Imperative in the times of Pandemic’.

Speaking about the challenges faced in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Jaishankar said, "A nation that had no preparedness for such an enormous crisis responded in a way that should give us all confidence in our future." A country that did not make PPEs and ventilators now not only meets its own needs but also helps other nations.

"If we created 15,466 dedicated facilities with 1.5 million isolation beds, if more than a million are tested daily by 7,000 centres, if Arogya Setu was devised to facilitate contact tracing – then it speaks volumes about our inherent capabilities," he noted.

He argued that the challenge now was to take the ability to rise to the moment of crisis and transform that into a more routine set of practices and procedures. "And I truly believe that the India which will come out from the Covid crisis will do just that," Jaishankar said.

During his address, the External Affairs Minister also spoke about the Vande Bharat Mission to bring back Indians stranded in other countries due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Over 24 lakh people had been repatriated through flights as well as by land and see as the country "will not leave an Indian abroad in distress," he said.

India had also helped over one lakh foreign nationals return home, he added.