Modi on damage-control mode

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seen to have taken the damage control in his own hands after his government was criticised black and blue from all quarters. During his recent address to the nation, the Prime Minister announced free vaccines for all adults of India. This may just be the beginning of the damage control measure and quite certainly, is working well as the citizens are all praises for this announcement. Nevertheless, Modi and his team will need a lot of follow-up actions in the right earnest to accomplish the target of vaccinating all adults within the stipulated time frame. Yes, it is indeed praiseworthy of the Prime Minister for his announcement but it let us not forget that it came only after many non-BJP ruled states sounded alarm, international media criticism and Supreme Court’s and civil societies’ pressure.
Having said this, mere announcements have been made a number of times in the past. What would be really praiseworthy is the fact that the same is successfully implemented/executed even at the ground level. Currently, the states are already reeling under acute shortage of vaccines so the union government must procure enough vaccines for its recent announcement to actually be fulfilled. Additionally, the Prime Minister also announced that the union government has henceforth abdicated its responsibility and allowed Indian vaccine manufacturing companies to sell 50 percent of their production to states, private hospitals and others at a pre-decided price. In his address Modi said, “Twenty-five per cent of the vaccination work with states will now be handled by the centre, it will be implemented in the coming two weeks. Both State and Union will work as per new guidelines in the coming two weeks.” However, the very concept of division of vaccination work between the Union and the States at 25 and 75 percent ratio bears more pressure on the already overburdened states. Moreover, in this scenario, if either the state or the union government falters, the very purpose of vaccination will be defeated. The Union government that has far more resources – financially and otherwise, will now only be looking after the 25 percent while the states, with limited resources are left to fend for themselves with a responsibility of 75 percent of the work.
Whatever be the outcome the people should get their only chance against the virus – vaccination. Till date the Indian government has decided to approach the pandemic problem with the agenda of preventing deaths. They vaccinated, on priority, all the people who needed the vaccine rather than providing the vaccine to the people who wanted it. The country does not even have that large stock of vaccines, that is a different matter altogether, but for this approach, owing to vaccine hesitancy in the beginning, either large numbers of vaccines were wasted or not many turned up for the vaccination. Now, as the country is past the vaccine hesitancy phase, it needs a large amount of vaccines to cater to its population. The Prime Minister’s announcement may have come too little too late but is a step in the right direction. Let us hope that governments both at the union and the state come up with a proper implementation strategy to make its policies work on ground this time rather than on only paper.
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