Discrepancy between the Centre’s outreach to the world and its shocking coldness to the plight of its countrymen has had many manifestations in recent times
The Centre has asked the Supreme Court to trust it when it comes to ensuring an equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. Unfortunately, India can no longer trust such assurances from Narendra Modi’s government. The Centre’s culpability in the second wave of Covid-19 turning lethal cannot be airbrushed — but that is not the only reason for the collective distrust. The lopsided nature of the government’s priorities has been exposed, once again, by the skewed nature of the Vaccine Maitri initiative, which was ended in March. There was nothing wrong in exporting vaccines to needy nations: New Delhi’s gesture had been appreciated and led to reciprocal gestures of kindness from the global fraternity when things turned dire in this country. But the fact that 6.6 crore doses — the volume, it has been reported, is enough to vaccinate all adults in Mumbai and Delhi — were dispatched to over 90 nations which, till recently, had a far lower caseload than that of India brings into question the wisdom and priorities of Mr Modi’s government. Parity between demand and supply is a must, especially during a crisis of this magnitude: why did India not create an adequate buffer of vaccines before reaching out a helping hand to other nations? Expediting the import of foreign vaccines would have helped plug this discrepancy by creating a secure inventory. But then Mr Modi’s government wants citizens and institutions to be trusting of its abilities.
This discrepancy between the warmth of the Centre’s outreach to the world and its shocking coldness to the plight of its countrymen has had many manifestations in recent times. Perhaps the most telling has been the snail-like pace of India’s Covid-19 vaccination coverage. About three per cent of this populous country has been vaccinated; a little over 9 per cent has received at least one dose. India’s pace — Israel has vaccinated over 50 per cent of its people — has been woeful; this is shameful for a nation with a long and successful history of public vaccination programmes. The paucity in the availability of the drugs is slowing it down further, adding to the sufferings of the people. This only confirms the absence of cohesion in the Centre’s response to Covid-19 management strategies. The Centre must get its act together: there is a limit to trust and patience in a suffering people.