COVID-19: Why many Indian citizens are defending the New Zealand High Commission in oxygen spat

Many Indian citizens are defending New Zealand's High Commission in India after a plea for oxygen was made via social media, breaching Government protocol. 

The commission, based in New Dehli,  came under fire after it asked the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) on Twitter to urgently deliver an oxygen cylinder. The IYC is the youth wing of the Indian National Congress, in opposition to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Government have come under heavy criticism for their handling of COVID-19, resulting in a devastating second wave of the virus.

Modi and dozens of other politicians held rallies across the country for local elections in March and into April. This was despite warnings from scientists a new a more contagious coronavirus variant was taking hold in the country. 

India has struggled to source enough oxygen for many of its COVID-19 patients as daily case numbers on Saturday soared past 400,000.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has since apologised to the Indian Government for the Twitter oxygen plea. NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has since confirmed a worker at the New Zealand High Commission in India was "very unwell".

Many Indian citizens, however, weren't concerned about how the commission sourced the oxygen.

"There's no need for you to apologise for our Government's incompetence. You have done only what the rest of us are doing," one person replied to the commission's apology on Twitter.

"You took the right step and asked the right people for help," another said. "Reinstate your tweet. You are our guests here and want you to survive before we do."

Other posts praised the commission for reaching out in its time of need.

"You do what you need to do and all you need to ask from to save lives," wrote one. "People bringing oxygen are not chanting their party slogans."

There was however some anger from supporters of the Indian Government.

"This cylinder could have gone to a dying Indian and saved his life. Don't play Diplomacy game at this harsh and painful time," another said.

"I guess these Kiwi diplomats are anti-nationals, they honour someone's life more than patriotism towards [the] Indian Government, such a pity," wrote another.

Earlier on Monday, Ardern said the commission had breached protocol by posting the plea on Twitter. 

"Ultimately, the cause for that call [was] they do have a very unwell local staff member," she told The AM Show.

"In India, we have a New Zealand compound - it will include both New Zealand staff seconded into India but it will also include some local employees."

The Prime Minister said the commission had ways to access support through the Government, which MFAT has since acknowledged. 

Deaths from COVID-19 in India jumped by a record 3689 on Sunday (local time) and authorities reported 392,488 new infections. The country recorded more than 400,000 daily cases for the first time on Saturday.