In 2020, when the pandemic hit the entire world, India was among those nations which weren’t affected by it that much but, gradually saw a massive spread of Coronavirus in the nation. With a massive lockdown across the country and an inseparable void to better the nation, the Indian Army came on the fore-front to serve us during the pandemic. It is important to remember that while the whole nation was on a lockdown, the entire army was on duty. During this time, the Army with the assistance of the government launched “Operation Namaste”, a campaign launched to combat the spread of Covid-19 by setting up quarantine facilities across the nation. Launched by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, this operation consisted of eight quarantine facilities in total which catered to the ailing covid patients in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and kashmir.
Apart from this, soldiers were advised to follow certain norms during lockdown, only where they weren’t operational. They were assured that their families will be well taken care of. Leave extensions to bare minimum were imposed. Armed Forces hospitals were earmarked as COVID hospitals so that more and more citizens can be treated suffering from Covid. These hospitals served both the armed forces patients as well as civilians transferred from state health authorities. Hospitals from the Army, Navy and the Air Force conducted coronavirus tests using the RT-PCR methodology.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on ships and seafarers as well. It was in these tragic times and difficult conditions that the Indian Navy took up the challenge to evacuate people from distressed areas all around the world. “Operation Samudra Setu”, was launched on 05 May 2020 as part of the national effort to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indian Navy ships such as Jalashwa, Shardul, Airavat and Magar were deployed from May onwards for Operation Samudra Setu to undertake rescue from Iran, Maldives and Sri Lanka. The operation culminated successfully after rescuing 3,992 Indian citizens back to their native land by sea.
Another mission by the Navy was “Mission SAGAR” where INS Kesari was deployed to the Southern IOR Island nations for rendering COVID-19 related assistance from May onwards. Ships were laden with medicine stores and medical kits to Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles. In the second round of the humanitarian mission by India, Mission “SAGAR II”, INS Airavat was deployed to deliver 270 MT of humanitarian aid stores to Djibouti, Massawa,Port Sudan and Mombasa, Kenya from October-November 2020.
Indian Air Force too , launched an 18-hour operation and airlifted 6.2 tonnes of essential medicines and hospital supplies with its C-130 transport aircraft and delivered it to the Maldives under “Operation Sanjeevani”. Due to the lockdown imposed by the government of India, the medicines and medical supplies couldn't be transported through any other way.
Indian Air Force initialised 'Operation Sanjeevani' to lift and deliver the essential medical supplies from Influenza vaccines to antiviral drugs which are used in other countries to treat COVID-19. Drugs such as Lopinavir and Ritonavir were also delivered. It is important to note that the medicines were lifted from airports in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Madurai with the help of the Indian Army before it was transported to the Maldives.