Items filtered by date: Friday, 14 August 2020 - Botswana Guardian

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi bid farewell to Ambassador designate to the United States of America Kitso Mokaila and High Commissioner designate to India Gilbert Mangole.The two newly appointed  are retired  politicians who served in the 2014 -2019 Parliament. Mokaila is also former cabinet minister.

Mangole, a former opposition Member of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Mokaila will leave any  day from next week depending on the availability of flight connections to their respective destinations. Giving them his final word before they depart, Masisi told them individually that he was very glad that they have acceded to his request to go and serve our country at high positions. He sad he appointed Mokaila to represent the interests of the presidency and this country. "You know the history between Botswana and the USA countries and its people go back a long way.

"Over the years we had enormous projects that we have undertaken with the Americans and skipping over the major projects in the sectors of water, education, infrastructure, human capital development. "There is hardly anybody in senior management in government who did not study and benefitted from the USA". He implored Mokaila to focus his attention on cultivating very warm fraternal and mutually beneficial relationship with the American peoples and to promote Botswana's wildlife and economy given his experience, expertise and contacts.

Mokaila, a former minister of mineral and energy, is well acquainted with the diamond sector and Kimberlite process and hence is the best candidate to promote the country's minerals. Masisi reiterated that his government is committed  to transforming Botswana’s economy to a knowledge based economy. He said USA  is one of the most successful spheres  of influence in the knowledge economy space, they have got the infrastructure , human , financial capital assistance necessary to learn from and collaborate with.

He said Mokaila's whole term will be occupied with doing that, whether, it is in the agric space for our beef, our crops and vegetables or fishes , our wild game products ,diamonds , coal ,copper or whatever  may come out if the value edition. In response  Mokaila  said it  is an honour and privilege  to be given this opportunity to serve the country. "I can only pledge to do my  best specifically to  the tourism, ITC  I go there  knowing that I am armed  enough".

Turning to Mangole, Masisi said Botswana and India have many commonalties chief among which is the parliamentary – minister influence of democratic dispensation. “Now that you are a public servant, it is my hope that with the skills and talents that you have, particularly in the field of economic trade, you can advance Botswana’s interests”. He said Botswana and India have very strong relations in the diamond space.

"As Botswana we have the resources, but India has the funds and the population, " he said. In response Mangole said he was shocked to receive a call from the president. I never expected what was to come out but when you imparted a request to me and my wife, I felt so honoured   that given the recent interactions in the political space you  found it fit nonetheless  to appoint me to high office. "Let me assure you that I will do my best to fulfil the mandate that you bestowed upon me.

"The bottom line is I am a Motswana first I will do everything in my power of course within the bounds of human error to do my best to serve the country and not disappoint you. "I am very much looking forward to your state visit in India and let me assure you that once that becomes possible, I am sure we will have taken one or two steps" .

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Through the pandemic, it has not only met its domestic requirements but taken a range of steps for global good

Covid-19 continues to exact a heavy toll worldwide. In India too, positive cases are rising. However, our effective domestic response has led to a significant improvement in our recovery rate, which is now 68.78%. The case fatality rate at 2.01% remains one of the lowest in the world.

High recovery and low-fatality outcomes can be attributed to proactive measures taken to deal with the outbreak from its early stages. We started screening Covid-19 cases a full 13 days before the first case was detected in India. We implemented full lockdown on the 55th day of the outbreak when we had only around 600 cases. Our public health response has been appreciated by the World Health Organization (WHO). The government took rapid steps to augment health infrastructure. As Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi noted, India now has over 11,000 Covid-19 facilities and 1.1 million isolation beds. We have ramped up testing to over half-a-million tests a day, to be scaled up to a million.

India’s response has not been confined to meeting our domestic requirements. We have been significantly engaged with the international community in providing the leadership that the global situation demanded. As a responsible stakeholder in global health supply chains, we ensured timely access to essential drugs and medical items for over 150 countries, while meeting our own domestic requirements. We reaffirmed our position as the first responder to humanitarian crises in the region by deploying medical teams to help Maldives, Mauritius, Comoros and Kuwait deal with the pandemic. India also dispatched naval assets to the Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles to deliver assistance. This demonstrated our strong commitment to the PM’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).

From being a net importer of Covid-19-related medical items, we have emerged as a net exporter. Today, we are manufacturing over 500,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and over 300,000 N-95 masks every day. Our system has shown the necessary adaptability and agility to significantly ramp up production to go beyond our domestic requirements.

The repatriation of Indian nationals stranded abroad and the evacuation of foreigners from India to their home countries have been among the most successful aspects of our response. In the initial days, the ministry of external affairs had promptly set up a Covid cell and a 24x7 control room to assist Indian citizens abroad. The PM had also personally directed our heads of missions to extend all possible assistance to our nationals stranded abroad. Subsequently, the Vande Bharat mission, launched to repatriate our nationals stranded overseas, has been the largest exercise of its kind ever undertaken by the government and has demonstrated our capacity to effectively carry out complex humanitarian missions. Over one million Indians have returned under the Vande Bharat mission so far through flights, across land borders and on naval ships. We have been able to bring home Indian nationals from distant locations, and also facilitated the return of Bhutanese and Nepalese nationals stranded in third countries to their homes on Vande Bharat flights.

Rigorous screening of returnees by our diplomatic missions has ensured that the proportion of positive cases remains extremely small (less than 0.2%). Testing on arrival by the health ministry and state governments has helped detect these cases. The mission just doesn’t end with the arrival of our nationals. We are also mapping their skills on arrival to link them with companies for job opportunities.

There has also been no let-up in our diplomatic outreach during the pandemic. We have initiated and been part of several important conversations globally. Our Neighborhood First policy was on full display when the PM hosted a video conference of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) leaders early in the crisis — our first such engagement on Covid-19. He announced a series of measures to deal with the pandemic, including the creation of a Covid-19 emergency fund with a commitment of $10 million from India. We have also called for a better multilateral response to global crises in the future.

The PM has, on several occasions, including in the G-20 and Non-aligned Movement virtual summits, proposed the reform of multilateral cooperation by bringing people to the centre of our efforts. Our own initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure are prime examples of this approach. The decision of the G-20 on debt service suspension for developing countries, which India fully supported, reflects this people-centric approach.

At the virtual Global Vaccine Summit, the PM highlighted how India’s contribution to the global response in terms of sharing medicines was guided by our philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkum. The PM also hosted the first virtual bilateral summit with Australia, which was followed by the India-European Union summit. In addition, the PM has spoken to his counterparts from 61 countries during this period. The external affairs minister has spoken to foreign ministers from 77 countries. We have kept open channels of virtual communication to strengthen partnerships and deal with situations that require diplomatic engagement.

We have been constantly adjusting, adapting and innovating to deal with the changed reality, particularly in our engagement with the world. And in the process, we have been successful in elevating India’s profile as a constructive and dependable actor on the global stage.

[Harsh Vardhan Shringla is Foreign Secretary, Government of India]
[The views expressed are personal]

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