Mahuta gives money to help Covid-ravaged Indians (but not nearly as much as will be spent on helping the locals at Franz Josef)

We were encouraged to learn the government is providing support to India in response to the devastating COVID-19 situation facing the country.

Our PM will have the wellbeing of a billion or so people in mind (although unlike  China, the Indians don’t buy nearly enough of our exports and hence can be treated differently in shaping our foreign policy ).

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.

“We stand in solidarity with India at this difficult time,and commend the tireless efforts of India’s frontline medics and healthcare workers who are working hard to save lives.”

We will contribute NZ $1 million to the International Federation of the Red Cross to assist India while they respond to the current surge in COVID-19 cases.


The previous Beehive statement came from Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash, who  advised us he was dipping into Provincial Development Unit funding for $9.23m for the first phase of flood protection work in the Franz Josef community.

Charity should begin at home, of course.

The International Federation of the Red Cross is working directly with the local Indian Red Cross Society to provide oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, and other crucial medical supplies.

The IFRC is also scaling up emergency operations across India by providing an intensified ambulance and blood service, and distributing personal protective equipment and hygiene kits to communities in need.

“We believe a contribution to an international organisation that has a reputation for delivery is the most practical assistance we can make to India at this time,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

There are good reasons for opting to hand our money to the Red Cross.  It means we don’t have to give it to the Indian Government.

The PM, a bloke called Narendra Damodardas Modi, is a bit of a lad.  On his watch, according to Wikipedia, India has experienced democratic backsliding.

Following his party’s victory in the 2019 general election, his administration revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. His administration also introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act, which resulted in widespread protests across the country. Described as engineering a political realignment towards right-wing politics, Modi remains a figure of controversy domestically and internationally over his Hindu nationalist beliefs and his alleged role during the 2002 Gujarat riots, cited as evidence of an exclusionary social agenda.

He hasn’t been a shining light in the battle against Covid-19.

To the contrary, he has been something of a Trumpian. Check this out – 

As in so many of the pandemic’s worst-hit countries, this tragedy was avoidable — and is largely the fault of a boastful and incompetent government. Yet, judging by the fate of other bungling far-right politicians such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, the U.K.’s Boris Johnson, Hungary’s Viktor Urban, and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi may well suffer few political consequences for his devastating missteps.

Like those other leaders, Modi has spent more time diminishing the pandemic’s seriousness than combating it. In early March, even as cases in India rose alarmingly, he boasted that the country would serve as “the world’s pharmacy,” churning out vaccines for developing nations. His health minister judged India to have entered the “endgame” of the pandemic. 

In a new cricket stadium named after Modi, tens of thousands of largely unmasked people turned out to watch matches between India and England last month. Many more unprotected people turned out for Modi’s recent election rallies in the state of West Bengal, and an estimated 3.5 million people have attended, with the encouragement of Modi’s Hindu nationalist colleagues, the Kumbh Mela religious festival.

The result? Faced with a crushing case load and an acute shortage of vaccines, India has stopped exporting doses and is importing new jabs from Russia. Indian states are desperately fighting over the supply of something as basic as medical oxygen.

We get a further measure of the Indian PM’s political stripes from these reports –  

The right-wing government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands accused of using the Covid-19 pandemic to water down important regulations that guarantee environmental safeguards and fast-track projects aligned to its neoliberal economic policies. The Modi regime has sought especially to dilute the country’s environmental assessment rules. This, environmentalists and activists argue, will prevent public oversight, normalise the approval of projects without environmental clearance and deprive affected communities of mechanisms to voice their concerns or objections.


This report says several state governments in India have announced sweeping and alarming changes to labour laws. Among many rights abuses, these changes will allow companies to hire and fire workers at will, extend working hours up to 72 hours a week and deny workers a guaranteed minimum wage. 

On the pretext of revitalising the struggling economy and attracting foreign investment, the most significant changes were announced by three states: Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. All three are ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Other states including Rajasthan, Haryana, Odisha and Punjab have also relaxed some labour legislation, effectively stripping workers of any bargaining power or safety net.

We are sure the officials at MFAT have briefed Mahuta on these matters and we imagine this helped her decide to whom our assistance should be sent.   

Latest from the Beehive

New Zealand responds to COVID-19 crisis in India


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