In the recent past, India crossed the 100 cut-offs twice. One, 100 crores of the Indian population received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine. Two, petrol price too crossed the 100 mark. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is right in front to celebrate the first of these two events. He shared his happiness and addressed the public. A picture emerged showing him amidst healthcare workers and vaccine recipients at Delhi RML hospital. Furthermore, papers the next day carried his detailed article. Everywhere, Modi dominated the discourse. Even the Covid awareness message we are tired of over the past several months on our phones was tweaked. There is no other opinion if or whether it is not a matter of pride that India is emerging stronger. However, Modi has not referred to the second 100-mark crossing yet. There has been a steep increase in the price of petrol, diesel and cooking gas. To this date, there has not been a single picture of or article or address by the Prime Minister sharing the plight of the common man in the matter.
That is the way of our Prime Minister: he steps into the scene only to shock or celebrate. There are several instances, like the one when he startled the country with his sudden announcement of demonetization. The Prime Minister is rendered silent in front of the public's grief and anger. Though he jumped in to address the public in the saviour outfit after the vaccination campaign crossed the mark, he was nowhere to be seen when the second wave hit countrywide, including the capital city of Delhi. Let alone the public; he didn't respond even when the opposition was screaming for a response. Just like in the case of petrol, maybe he has been rendered quiet in the face of public plight. Though the murder of four farmers by a team including the son of a Union Minister shook the entire nation, Narendra Modi did not utter a word about it. The Prime Minister has not paid heed to the pleas for removing the Union Minister who protected his murder-accused son. In short, the PM won't hear the unwanted and won't waste a single chance to play the saviour.
All salutes to the science community, health workers and government systems. Full marks to their efforts and role in vaccine manufacturing and distribution. When leaders faltered, it was they who emerged as the lifeline in tackling the pandemic. The leaders led us through the pandemic making us bang thalis, proposing unscientific lockdowns, making migrant labourers walk home, exporting vaccines to foreign countries before meeting domestic demand, making way for a second wave, making the public suffer from the shortage of medical oxygen, and pushing dead bodies into rivers. It is after all this that they are claiming India to be 'self-reliant and 'secured' in the matter of covid vaccines. And it was within days of the PM claiming that India has overcome other countries in tackling Covid that the second wave hit and shattered it all. Mask wearers are hence still confused as to whether they can finally heave a sigh of relief. The problem that the country is still emerging from the economic crisis and the loss of jobs and livelihoods is yet another debate.
Despite the grand fireworks having crossed 100 crores, only 31 crores of the population have received both doses. That is, about 75% of those vaccinated are yet to receive the second dose. There is 30 crores more who don't belong to either of these two categories. A majority of them is who Modi says should be the promise of the 'New India' - those below 18. They haven't been able to attend school for the past two years. Or in other words, the country still has a long way to go before they can share the glee that Modi is putting forth. Therefore, the 100-crore mark celebration is premature. In fact, India should have achieved the target of 100 crores months ago.
The speed of giving 50 million doses of vaccine per day was achieved on April 7th. The reality is that we could not sustain that speed. Though the government announced months ago, it would not be possible to inoculate everyone over the age of 18 by the end of this year. Considering the pace of manufacturing and inoculating, it would take several months after November and December to reach the said target. One must also note that in the case of vaccines, the Prime Minister has crossed the limit in claiming self-reliance. However, Covishield is the most distributed vaccine in the country. It is a contribution of the British.
This is also the time to recollect that the Prime Minister initially tried to put the responsibility of collecting and distributing vaccines upon the states and wash its hands off the responsibility himself. Following pressure from several ends, the union government finally decided to take up the responsibility by itself. The PM had announced that 75% of vaccines shall be made available at government hospitals and 25% at private hospitals. He now also claims that there is no VIP culture in vaccine distribution.
As over 100 crores have already received the vaccine, it is those who have that experience that have their tales to tell, suppressing laughter and anguish. People set those feelings of irritation aside because they want to get inoculated for fear of their lives and those of their families. The 100 crore is a reflection of the fear instilled in the population. It is by standing ahead of this that PM Modi is now posing as a saviour by pasting his picture on the Cowin portal and final vaccination certificate and celebrating his birthday with an ambitious vaccine target. Beyond all pretences, that is the reality.