The exploding number of Covid-19 cases in India, together with the stretching of the health care system in large parts of the country, has led to not just a humanitarian catastrophe but also severely strained global trade and indeed India’s worldwide soft power. India is deeply involved in providing both labour and goods for many of the world’s most crucial industries. One such, the shipping industry, has only just recovered from a week-long obstruction in the Suez Canal. But now Indian crew members — and indeed crew members of other nationalities who serve in ships with Indian crew or that have stopped at Indian ports — are coming down with Covid-19. In the cramped confines of merchant shipping, an entire ship can become infected, such as one that arrived in South Africa from India recently in which 14 Filipino crew members wound up Covid-positive. As a result, several ports — including Singapore, Asia’s shipping hub — are barring crew changes that involve Indian personnel; some are outright keeping ships coming from India out of their harbours. The supply chain disruption as a result of India failing to control its pandemic is vast.
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First Published: Tue, May 11 2021. 22:48 IST