by Steve Kaffen (Russia 1994–96)
The United States has, to-date, missed a unique opportunity to provide critically urgent medical assistance to the world’s most populous democracy, and solidify our relationship with an important regional ally · India. Imagine a “Berlin airlift” by the U.S. and E.U. of vaccines, oxygen, beds, makeshift shelters and treatment centers (such as DOD provided to Ebola-stricken West Africa). This mobilization should have been initiated a week ago, and it is still possible. The outreach ideally should be regional and include its neighbors Pakistan and Bangladesh, which are in similar dire circumstances.
India was an important Peace Corps “pioneer” country from 1961 to 1975, and its present demographics of a young population (median age under 30) and largely rural subsistence make it ideal for Peace Corps’ future return with programs geared to health, agriculture, the environment, and specialized education. The agency might be able to obtain targeted funding for the start-up.