Former Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Basdeo Panday feels that there are racial overtones as to why this country was not in receipt of Covid 19 vaccines from India. Panday spoke at an open floor parley at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Relations, Mt.Hope on Friday as he was asked to give his views on reports related to this twin-island state did not received that any vaccines from India, as several Caribbean countries were able to source them.
However, he added that there were allegations of racism being put in the debate. “I don’t have an answer for that. That is a question that should be directed to the Indian High Commissioner. People believe there are some racial overtones in the Covid 19 Vaccine thing, but I don’t know about that”.
Panday said if he was Prime Minister he would have ensured free vaccines were available to Trinidad and Tobago.
Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Arun Kuma Sahu has been critical of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley over his statement that the diplomat had failed to communicate to the government on the availability the vaccines from India. “I don’t think it is in the pale of diplomatic decency to personally attack a resident High Commissioner”, he stated in an email to the media.
The Prime Minister said that his government communicated directly with India and there was no confirmation of 500,000 being made available to the Caribbean nations.
Dr. Rowley stated in a television programme that he had been accused of not moving to get TT’s share of some of the 500,000 vaccines from India, adding that a lot of people either by ancestry or by political persuasion, have taken it upon themselves to become the mouthpiece of the Government of India.
Two weeks ago, former Prime Minister, and now Opposition Leader had accused the government of not positioning the country to receive some of the vaccines. However, Barbados had sent 2,000 doses of the vaccines it had received from India. She had written to India for consideration of some of the gifted vaccines, but has not had any reply.
In the same vein, Panday said that there much to be leant from India because of its scientific and technological achievements. He has urged the Government of TT and the people, to make full use of the diplomatic ties between both countries, and he pointed out India’s progress in the fields of medicine, agriculture and information technology are reasons why this country should seek an alliance with India.
He said that during his visit to India as Prime Minister, he was impressed with the country’s rich history of scientific development. “The first thing India is the people are always doing something in order to improve their lives. In many ways India has become efficient in technology, there is a lot of technology that has been developed in India”
Panday said that he hoped the discussion would dispel the false narrative of the country as weak and poverty stricken, and noted negative perceptions of India may be due to ignorance or deliberately peddled by some western countries that see the country’s growing power as a threat.
Rowley conceded that he was not sure as to when Trinidad and Tobago will receive its ordered batch of Covid 19 from the Covas Facility.
He pointed out that he first heard vaccines from India was from local doctors who were spoken to by the Indian High Commissioner, who did not speak to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. “A few of our Caribbean neighbours have got gifts. And of course, when you go to somebody asking for a gift, that’s not a gift, you’re begging. There was no arrangement for us here in Trinidad and Tobago to vaccinate this population by begging”.
Dr Rowley noted that in his capacity as Chairman of CARICOM, he wrote to the Governments of US,,UK and Canada Prime Ministers highlighting the vaccine clog in the region, but so far only Canada has indicated that they giving close attention to his concerns.
On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to assist Trinidad and Tobago with its SinoPharm vaccines during a virtual meeting with Dr. Rowley, however there has been no word as to whether Trinidad and Tobago will take up the offer.
Persad-Bissessar said that for the past five years, this People’s National Movement(PNM) Government has destroyed the livelihood of thousands of citizens, and now with their gross negligence, they are playing reckless with the lives of all the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
She is critical of Dr. Rowley’s degrading our CARICOM neighbours such as Barbados implying they had gone for vaccines. begging. “Trinidad and Tobago are now facing huge proportions all thanks to Dr. Rowley’s incompetent and shambolic government.