By S.A.H. RIZVI
New Delhi Bureau Chief
The Times Kuwait
Affirming that India has always been in the forefront to help other countries in time of need, Kuwait’s Ambassador to India H.E. Jassem Ibrahim Al-Najem said last week that it was now the turn of Kuwait and all other countries in the world to come forward and assist New Delhi in its fight against the grave threat from the pandemic that the country is facing.
Ambassador Najem was speaking at an international round-table on the topic of ‘India-Kuwait Relations and Humanitarian Cooperation’ held by the Tillotama Foundation. During the first-wave of the pandemic last year, India had rushed a team of medical specialists from the army to assist in arresting the COVID-19 outbreak in Kuwait. India had also supplied over 200,000 doses of anti-coronavirus vaccinations.
“India is always the first to offer help and assistance and has always been present for the international community,” said the ambassador. As the second wave of the pandemic hit India, Ambassador Jassem said it was now time for the global community to come forward and help India at this critical moment. “The Kuwait Cabinet met at an emergency session and expressed deep concern over the situation in India and devised a plan to immediately rush medical help, especially the much-needed medical oxygen to India,” noted Ambassador Jassem.
“So we established sea bridges and airlift operations to rush medical help to India under the guidance of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait to meet the crisis situation here.“ It was on 4 May that a Kuwait air force plane landed in New Delhi carrying 40 MT of medical supplies that included oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, medications and ventilators.
A week later Indian naval ships and commercial vessels began arriving from Kuwait at Indian ports carrying medical aid including over 425 MT of medical oxygen. “In total more than 1,400 MT of medical oxygen and 3,000 oxygen cylinders were sent by Kuwait,” the Ambassador said.
Later, while replying to several of the co-panelist suggestions, Ambassador Jassem said next year both India and Kuwait would be celebrating 60 years of establishment of diplomatic and political relations between the two countries where the journey has been wonderful resulting in lots of achievement. “Let me say that both countries have always enjoyed very cordial relations for over 150 years or more.”
“In this first 60 years we have achieved much and now it is time to strengthen it further so that the benefit must go on both sides,” the Ambassador said, adding, “It is hard to think that the benefit should go to only one side of the fence, it must be to both sides in the changing global scenario.”
Stating that the numbers of Indian expat population has now reached exactly to one million with special impetus during the last five years “which is good”, Ambassador Jassem said their presence is to build Kuwait and the benefit goes to India as well.
The ambassador pointed out that Kuwait always considers the Indian community as a partner in the country’s progress.
On the balance of trade, Ambassador Jassem said that Kuwait is a source of meeting India’s energy security needs, as it exports around 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day amounting to 10 percent of Kuwait total production. “But then Kuwait also benefits largely from importing lot of petrochemical products from India so the benefit is on both sides”
While stating that Kuwait Investment Authority plans to double the investment in India from the present US$5 billion both in the private and public sector, Ambassador Jassem said that it will be in core areas like petroleum, infrastructure and other new areas.
He also mentioned about the visit by Kuwait Foreign Minister to India earlier this year that had set the momentum of expanding the relations and setting up of the Joint Commission, Ambassador Jassem said various sub groups would be set up to identify the potential areas to give boost to the Indo Kuwait relations.
Among the co panelist included Ambassador Ajampur Ghanshyam Former Indian Ambassador and Joint Secretary (Gulf} senior jjournalists and Tillotama Senior Adviser (West Asia) Dr. Wael Awwad , Prof A.K. Pasha from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Dr. Meena Roy who heads the West and Central Asia wing of Tillotama Foundation.