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  • When it came to the threat of retaliation, PM Narendra Modi succumbed to Donald Trump's pressure.

    When it came to the threat of retaliation, PM Narendra Modi succumbed to Donald Trump's pressure. | Photo: EFE

Published 9 April 2020

India unblocks exports of hydroxychloroquine after Trump threatened Modi of possible retaliation if it failed to supply the anti-malarial medicine to the US.

After Donald Trump threatened India of possible retaliation if it failed to export the anti-malarial medicine to the United States, New Delhi approved the export of Hydroxychloroquine— floated as a plausible COVID-19 treatment drug. 


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India— a major exporter of generic medicines, in March, out of apprehensions of the coronavirus outbreak, had restricted the export of 26 drugs including original Paracetamol.

The unblocking of exports initiated after Trump spoke to Modi in a phone call on Sunday. The US president said, "If he doesn't allow it to come out, ...there may be retaliation. Why wouldn't there be?" 

Trump advised coronavirus-infected people to take Hydroxychloroquine in consultation with health professionals. The "game-changer" as Trump called it, is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

According to a rheumatologist at the Charite University Hospital in Berlin Thomas Dörner, Hydroxychloroquine has been used since the 1940s to treat autoimmune disorders but Douglas Richman, a virologist and infectious disease physician at the University of California, San Diego was skeptical of its use until it gets clinically tested.

"Whether it works in vivo is not proven for any virus," the expert said and fully supported further research to establish whether it is a good option for treating COVID-19. “It's imperative that good RCTs are implemented to get answers one way or another,” he told The Lancet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US on Tuesday recorded 374,329 of total cases of coronavirus and 12,000 deaths due to the outbreak. 

Though India said lifting the ban was a "gesture of solidarity," social media users did not spare the chance to "retaliate" against Modi, who flaunted his friendship with Trump and had given him a grand welcome in India in February. 

If India had stockpiled the drugs last month fearing the outbreak, why is it that it succumbed to U.S. pressure now? Ravish Kumar, an NDTV anchor wrote, "Modi should send Trump the expenditure Bill of (Namastey Trump) rally at Ahmedabad." 

It got lousy when 'Modi is a Coward's and 'Ask Trump to Apologise' started trending on Twitter. It posted past videos of Narendra Modi wherein he had said that India's one hundred crore citizens have the strength to pressure the international powers. Thousands of jokes and cartoons filled social media throughout the day.

India would supply "paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine to all its neighboring countries" and to "nations badly affected by the coronavirus."

Though India's foreign ministry said that the country had enough stock of medicines, its newly appointed spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava did not clarify on what could happen to medicines since there is no availability of raw material for drug productions and how would the country cope up with the increased demand within its national boundary in the times to come.

The two countries' annual turnover amounting to no less than US$80 billion could come under question after the threat. Interestingly, since this outbreak started, doctors in India have been asking for PPEs but demands met: zero. A few days back political activists demanded the same with the hashtag— doctors need gear. That also did not run through the ears of the government.

When it came to the threat of retaliation, Indian opposition leaders claimed, the PM succumbed to Trump's pressure. 

The leader of the Indian National Congress (INC) and its former president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "Friendship isn’t about retaliation…." Sitaram Yechury,  Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M) leader said that Trump’s statement was "unacceptable"... and the Modi government "succumbed to the threat."

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