PM Narendra Modi with Brazil's President Javier Bolsonaro
PM Narendra Modi with Brazil's President Javier Bolsonaro Image Credit: PTI

In a letter to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking supply of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro cited a story from the ancient Indian epic Ramayana. The letter mentions how the Hindu deity Hanuman brought holy medicine from the Himalayas to save the life of Hindu deity Rama's brother, according to online news reports shared on April 8. On April 9, he also thanked PM Modi after the Indian premier obliged to Brazil's request.

The Brazilian President wrote: "Just as ... Hanuman brought the holy medicine from the Himalayas to save the life of ... Rama's brother Lakshmana, and Jesus (PBUH) healed those who were sick and restored the sight to Bartimeu, India and Brazil will overcome this global crisis by joining forces and sharing blessings for the sake of all peoples."

India is the largest manufacturer of HCQ, an anti-malarial drug that is also considered one of the possible cures for Covid-19. The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 1.4 million people and resulted in the death of over 83,000 across the world.

India had earlier banned the export of HCQ, and only allowed a partial lift on the ban after US President Donald Trump requested an urgent supply. Trump had said that he didn’t like Modi’s decision to ban the export of the drug. India is now supplying the drug to the United and several other countries hit by the pandemic.

More than 14,000 people have been infected with Covid-19 in Brazil, and around 700 have died so far.

According to an article on Indian news site India Today, Brazil's envoy to India Ambassador André Aranha Correa do Lago explained the reason why there was reference to Indian mythology in President Bolsonaro's letter.

Lago said, "President Bolsonaro is a religious man and he saw how religious was Prime Minister Modi also. So he thought it was interesting to show in his letter how two religious men with very strong traditions could find examples in their religions that were most appropriate for the case."

He added that the Brazilian President took a fascination to India when he visited New Delhi as chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations. "He was fascinated also by the fact that religion is so strong and so important in India," said the envoy.

According to an Indian government statement, "The Prime Minister assured all possible support to Brazil President in this difficult hour. They agreed that their officials would remain in regular touch with respect to the COVID-19 situation and its emerging challenges."

Today, on April 9, a video of the Brazilian president is also being shared on social media, where he is seen thanking Modi for helping Brazil with "timely assistance".

"As a result of my direct conversation with the Prime Minister of India, we will receive, until Saturday, raw material to continue producing hydroxychloroquine, so that we can treat covid-19 patients, as well as malaria, lupus and arthritis," Bolsonaro said in an his address to the nation on Wednesday.

"I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian people for this very timely assistance to the Brazilian people."