The Narendra Modi government has given iron clad assurances to Nepal that it will be among the first countries to receive India developed twin Covid-19 vaccines, supply schedule of which will be announced in the coming week. This assurance was conveyed to Nepalese foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali during his visit to New Delhi for the Joint Commission Meeting with external affairs minister Subramanyam Jaishankar.
While the political detractors of Nepal Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli has portrayed Gyawali's visit as a damp squib, fact is that interlocutors of Nepalese foreign minister in New Delhi were impressed by his professionalism and sobriety with which he approached the bilateral relationship. Gyawali could not meet PM Modi as the Indian PM was totally involved in the launch of Covid-19 vaccines on January 16, according to top government sources. It was only due to PM's prior commitments that Gyawali was received by defence minister Rajnath Singh, who is number two in the Modi government.
It is understood that India will be taking care of emergency requirements of its friends by supply vaccines for restricted use to priority neighbourhood countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives apart from Nepal with supply schedule being worked out now.
According to government interlocutors, Gyawali briefed EAM Jaishankar about the preparedness in Nepal to receive the Indian vaccine with Nepal regulator granting approval during the foreign dignitary visit. The two countries are now on way to discuss training of medical modules, who will vaccinate Nepalese front line workers during the restricted use period. Nepal has a total of 2,67,056 Covid-19 cases with as many as 1,954 persons losing their lives to the pandemic, which had origins in China.
During Gyawali's visit the two sides agreed to gradually open the air and land route connectivity, which had been hit by the pandemic. The two countries agreed to expedite the field location survey related to the Raxaul-Kathmandu railway line.
While India-Nepal decided to deepen defence cooperation by closer military to military cooperation, Rajnath Singh also offered to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training and capacity building to the Oli Government.
"There were no acrimonious notes during Gyawali's visit with the visitor taking a very responsible view of the bilateral relationship," said one of the officials present in the bilateral meetings.