Canberra: India offered support to more than 150 affected countries in the form of vaccines, medical equipment and medicines during the pandemic, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha Harivansh said in a Keynote address at the 26th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC) in Canberra, Australia.

The Deputy Chairman said that India facilitated the evacuation of stranded foreign nationals from different parts of India to around 123 countries.

Dy Chairman of Rajya Sabha said that the Covid pandemic is undoubtedly one of the most profound public health emergencies of recent times, where all countries in the world have been affected, though with varying loss of life and social and economic disruption. It has been nearly three years and the world is still grappling with the multiple challenges thrown by the pandemic.

"The key for mitigating the adverse impact of the crisis, I believe, is solidarity and effective collaboration within the comity of nations and India, as one of the largest democracies and a responsible global player, has always remained at the forefront of the fight against global Challenges," Harivansh said during the Conference.

Harivansh further added that India took an exclusive initiative "Vaccine Maitri" to supply COVID-19 Made-in-India vaccines to various countries across the world.

Under this initiative, as of the first week of December 2022, India has supplied more than 282 million vaccine doses of COVID-19 to 101 countries and two UN entities.

"Since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic in India, we followed a 'whole of Government' and 'whole of society approach'. We took several measures for containing the spread of the virus, addressing major gaps in the availability of life-saving healthcare facilities, shoring up livelihoods and restoring normalcy in the areas such as education and employment," he added

On the steps taken by the Indian government during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, "As regards enacting relevant legislations, the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 was amended by Parliament to provide for adequate safety and protection of healthcare personnel handling patients and the epidemic. The Essential Commodities Act, of 1955 was amended to ensure that there are no shortages of foodgrains and also to keep the commodity prices under check during a pandemic. These changes helped to ensure food security to vulnerable sections of the country through the Public Distribution System."

He further said that Parliament also approved the budgets as required by the Government to meet the exigencies during the pandemic and post-pandemic period. As such, our Parliament's capacity to continue functioning during the pandemic truly testifies to the strength and resilience of our democratic system.

"Both the Houses of Indian Parliament and the Secretariats rose up to the occasion and ensured that the apex legislative body discharges its constitutional duties and obligation during the pandemic. Despite the rising infections and curbs on physical movement, the Parliament continued to hold its sessions, as required by the Constitution, for normal times and Sessions were convened physically amidst elaborate COVID appropriate safety arrangements in adherence to the guidelines in line with those of the WHO," he added.

Dy Chairman further added that India also developed National e-Vidhaan Application (NeVA) on the theme 'One National One Application' to make all the legislative bodies in India digitally connected.

Harivansh said "We, in India, have always believed in values of integration and unity. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam which means the entire world is one family is our core philosophy."

Speaking on India's G-20 Presidency Harivansh said that as India assumed the G20 Presidency, the philosophy to promote 'One Earth, One Family, One Future', is again going to get a renewed focus as we remain committed to extending support towards every effort made to mitigate the global challenges.

India, for sure, will be the one with the global community for charting out the way forward for lasting global peace and shared prosperity.

The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Harivansh is leading the Indian representation at the 26th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of Commonwealth (CSPOC) in Canberra, Australia is held from January 3-6, 2023.

The Deputy Chairman is accompanied by officials of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Secretariat. The conference was conceptualised in 1969 by Canada to bring the Speakers and Presiding Officers of Parliaments in Commonwealth countries on one platform.

The last such conference was held in Canada in January 2020. The next conference is scheduled to be held in Uganda in 2024.