COVID-19 update and press conference – February 9, 2021. (PMO)

India’s donation of 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Barbados is to be regarded as a gesture of friendship and solidarity to the country and its people.

This was underscored by outgoing Honorary Consul of India in Barbados, Dr. Mohini Harris, as she delivered a message on behalf of the High Commissioner of India, who is based in Suriname, to Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley during Tuesday night’s press conference via Zoom.

Noting that the gift, called muetree in India, meant friendship, Dr. Harris said: “It’s a gesture of friendship and solidarity from the Government and people of India to the Government and people of Barbados. The COVID Shield vaccine is made in India Vaccine, under the auspices of Oxford-AstraZeneca.”

Adding that the similar gesture of friendship and solidarity with other countries in the region had been extended, Dr. Harris stressed that they would also be receiving the Made in India COVID Shield Vaccine, very soon.

“As you are aware, Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Mr. Narendra Modi had received the request from Honourable [Mia Amor Mottley], Prime Minister of Barbados, and approved 100,000 doses of COVID Shield, which was delivered today [Tuesday, February 9] for the use of the people of Barbados,” Dr. Harris said, while expressing “great pleasure” on behalf of the High Commissioner of India and thanking the Prime Minister of India for the wonderful gesture of friendship.

Last year November, Barbados received a donation of US $100,000 from the Indian government through the Honorary Consul, Dr. Harris, and this allowed the country to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for its workers to battle the COVID-19 disease.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley in discussion with outgoing Honorary Consul of India in Barbados, Dr. Mohini Harris (left) while officials look on, following the arrival of 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine yesterday. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Prime Minister Mottley, reflecting on this gesture, expressed gratitude to India for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and emphasised that over the years India had been one of the first countries in the world to recognise this nation on the birth of its Independence on November 30,1966.

The Prime Minister said: “And, what may not be known either by Barbadians or Indians, 55 years almost later, is that the very chair, the very ornate and magnificent chair in which our Speaker sits in our Parliament, which as you know is the third oldest Parliament in the Commonwealth, was given to us by the Government and people of India….

“It wasn’t only the Speaker’s chair that was given to us on Independence, but it is also the Cabinet table in our Cabinet room that was also given to us by the Government and People of India. So, in a very real sense, the contribution of the people of India towards Barbados’ stability and democracy has been consistent over the 55 years that we will celebrate in November of this year.”

Prime Minister Mottley further acknowledged that India had made a commitment to Barbados, and eventually agreed to US $675,000 for the purchase of additional materials to assist in the battle against COVID-19.

Pointing out that this had come from the India UN Partnership Development Fund, she declared: “So, this is not a singular experience of cooperation between us and the Government and people of India. This is a continued set of cooperation, and indeed when the CARICOM countries met with Prime Minister Modi at the UN General Assembly in New York City in September 2019, we were able to continue to cement that very deep relationship between India and the people of the region.”

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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