Yuva - India

What does “Vaccine Politics”, tell us about the state of the opposition and ruling parties in India?

We understand that when a party is in opposition, they will rationally criticize the ruling government in the country. But what does it tell, when that politics is risking the lives of the millions? Does one become blinded by power that they find themselves unable to see the sufferings of their own country’s people?

India is now receiving over 1 lakh cases every day. Where the Government of our country is asking people to act more prudently, they are themselves holding rallies with a massive population, violating every COVID norm they are preaching about. What is even sadder to see is how our opposition parties, Shiv Sena and Congress are actively involved in politicizing the vaccine distribution in our country, ignoring the plight of millions who only wish to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from this Global pandemic.

–        It all first began when the opposition parties were raising their voices for manufacturing and preordering the vaccines and criticizing the Modi Government for misusing the PM cares fund. After a few weeks, on January 3, 2021, DCGI approved Vaccines of Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. While the people of India were celebrating the extraordinary efforts by our scientists and doctors, many politicians from the opposition parties, including Senior Congress leader, Shashi Tharoor and the president of Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav were busy finding faults with ‘Made in India’ vaccines and ultimately questioning the integrity of our country’s scientists and doctors. Where the opposition was calling it the name of constructive criticism, what they didn’t realize is that in their aim of demeaning the BJP Government, they somehow forgot that the ‘Made in India’ vaccine is India’s achievement and not of the Modi Government.

–        After creating an environment of alarm, another question was raised about the cost of the vaccines, where the opposition made a statement saying that it should be free of cost for the lower economic group. And when it was publicly announced that the vaccines will be available for free at Government hospitals for everyone and a minimum cost of Rs. 250 at private hospitals, politicians who were first only heard making noises didn’t appreciate the pricing policy of the government. Nevertheless, then began the largest vaccination drive, and again an attempt to malign the efforts of scientists and doctors was made, by asking why isn’t our Prime Minister taking the vaccine first? Doesn’t he trust the doctors of our country?  Where in the guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, it was specifically mentioned that Phase 1 will cater to healthcare and frontline workers, this can be seen as oppositions cheap tactics to create fear-mongering amongst citizens. The hypocrisy of the opposition was made apparent when Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the first dose of Covaxin, the same people who were raising questions said that he was merely posing for the pictures.

–        While they were asking India to export vaccines to smaller countries, now when we have given vaccines to almost 85 countries, Rahul Gandhi made an insensible statement of immediately imposing a ban on the export of vaccines. Where everyone was expecting the developed Nations to come out in the support of other less-developed nations, the USA has instead politicized the fight against a global pandemic by blocking the supply of important raw materials needed for vaccines. What citizens need to know is that India helping the other countries is not just a way to improve diplomatic relations, but also a symbolism of what Mother India inherently believes in, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The entire world is one family).

–        Over 11 million people are fully vaccinated in India. However, states like Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh are complaining about a shortage of supply and blaming the Central Government for not providing them with enough vaccines. To retaliate the hue & cry of the Maharashtra Government, the Ministry of Health & family welfare stated that Maharashtra has been allocated the highest vaccine doses, followed by Rajasthan. Maharashtra’s Health Minister, Rajesh Tope also claimed that they have been left with stock for only 3 days and asked Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan to look into this issue. After the claims made by Rajesh Tope, Dr. Harsh Vardhan took a dig at Maharashtra Government’s incompetency in handling the coronavirus crisis. To end the panic around the shortage of vaccines, the Government sources also revealed that till now 1,06,19,190 vaccines have been supplied to Maharashtra, out of which 90,53,523 are consumed and 7,43,280 is in the pipeline.

–        After a few states like Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh started the blame game, Dr. Harsh Vardhan released a statement about how vaccines are being rolled out to decrease the mortality rate. They also address the outcry over the shortage of vaccines stating, “So long as the supply of vaccines remains limited, there is no option but to prioritize. This is also the established practice around the world, and is well known to all State governments.” Additionally, the Health Minister also responded to some States demanding to lower the minimum age criteria for vaccine eligibility. “When states ask to open up vaccine supplies to everyone over 18, we must presume that they have done saturation coverage of healthcare workers, frontline workers, and senior citizens. But the facts are altogether different. Maharashtra has vaccinated just 86% of health workers with the first dose. The equivalent numbers for Delhi and Punjab are 72% and 64%. On the other hand, 10 Indian states/UTs have done more than 90%. Maharashtra has vaccinated just 41% of healthcare workers with a second dose. The equivalent numbers for Delhi and Punjab are 41% and 27%. 12 Indian states/UTs have done more than 60%.” it was mentioned in the report released.

If we analyse the data in the statement produced, despite receiving the highest number of doses why couldn’t the Maharashtra Government fully utilize the capacity of the vaccine in the first phase? Is the ruckus just another desperate attempt to divert attention from their blatant inefficiency in handling the COVID crisis and rolling out the vaccination drive? And even if we assume that the Maharashtra government is falling short of vaccination, can they neglect the fact that it is their state that is recording the highest number of cases all across the country, and it is only because of their carelessness and imprudence.

Now, let’s take a moment to ponder over who are the ones suffering in this game of “Vaccine politics”? It is us, the people of India. The politicians in our country will keep on holding rallies and just blame one another for their incompetencies. To say that they are still benefitting amidst the global pandemic just depicts the poor state of affairs of the political parties and leaders of our country.

Isha Jain

Columnist, Goa Chronicle

DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author

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