Rahul Gandhi's tweet came soon after the Ministry of External Affairs announced the decision to lift the ban. (Photo Credit: PTI File Photo)
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had some advice for the Narendra Modi government over the drug export issue. As India on Tuesday decided to partially lift the ban on the exports of the key drugs to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the Wayanad MP reminded the government that the citizens of the country should be prioritised. In reference to US President Donald Trump's threat tactics, Gandhi tweeted: 'Friendship isn’t about retaliation. India must help all nations in their hour of need but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first.' The Congress party also echoed Gandhi's sentiments and said, 'A friendship with conditions, is no friendship at all. BJP govt should reassess all that it's doing for foreign nations. PM Modi must prioritise the needs of our citizens first and foremost.' (Coronavirus Live Updates)
Gandhi's tweet came soon after the Ministry of External Affairs announced the decision to lift the ban. But many see this as a bullying tactic on part of the Trump administration. The US President had threatened to retaliate in case India doesn't accept his demand for the anti-malarial drug.
In a statement released on Tuesday morning, the Ministry of External Affairs said, ' In view of the humanitarian aspects of COVID-19 pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities.' Without naming the US, the Ministry of External Affairs said that 'We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. We would, therefore, discourage any speculation in this regard or any attempts to politicise the matter.'
Last month in the first week of March, India had restricted the export of dozens of drugs including paracetamol and various antibiotics. One of the world’s largest producers and exporters of drugs, India had restricted the exports of drugs include paracetamol, antibiotics such as tinidazole and erythromycin, the hormone progesterone, which is used in the contraceptive pill, and vitamins B12, B1 and B6. Hydroxychloroquine is an old and inexpensive drug used to treat malaria.
Meanwhile, the death count due to novel coronavirus rose to 114 and the number of cases in the country climbed to 4,421 on Tuesday, according to the Union Health Ministry. While the number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 3,981, as many as 325 people were cured and discharged, and one had migrated, it stated. The total number of cases include 66 foreign nationals.