NEW DELHI: As 234 Kenyan nationals stranded in India by the lockdown landed safely in Nairobi on Friday, StratNews Global’s Amitabh Revi spoke exclusively to Rahul Chhabra, India’s high commissioner to Kenya. “We help countries in Africa with what they require with no strings attached unlike other countries,” he said. Chhabra gave details of efforts being made to ensure Indian nationals in Kenya are taken care of during the period of lockdown. There are 20,000 Indian passport holders and 60,000 OCI card holders presently in that country. The Indian mission in Nairobi has worked with the local Indian community and gurudwaras to organise regular supply of dry rations and cooked food to those stranded. They include an Indian army soldier who was transiting through Nairobi when India locked down.
Chhabra said India has cleared the export of hydroxychloroquine tablets to Kenya, and is also providing $1.5 million worth of HIV medicine. An online training programme for Kenyan health workers has been organised and a satellite link between hospitals in India, Kenya and Somalia is in the process of being established (Chhabra is also ambassador to Somalia but based in Nairobi).
India is in the process of expanding its diplomatic profile in Africa with 18 missions planned. India is also expected to host the Africa Summit later this year.
Rahul Chhabra is an officer of the 1987 batch of the Indian Foreign Service. Apart from his ambassadorial duties in Kenya and Somalia, he is also India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Environment Programme & the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. He was ambassador to Hungary and Bosnia & Herzegovina, and director in the Foreign Secretary’s Office where he was part of the Indian delegation that negotiated the historic Indo-US Nuclear Agreement. Chhabra, who has been appointed Secretary, Economic Relations in the Ministry of External Affairs, says he has been told to get back to Delhi ‘as soon as possible on one of the evacuation flights’.