Skip to main content

Why are India's ruling politicians, top supporters 'avoiding' vaccinated first?

Baba Ramdev with Shivraj Singh Chauhan 
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
After the Government of India approved two vaccines, the Indian version of Oxford’s AstraZeneca, Covishield, launched by the Serum Institute, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, developed with the help of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a section of media has gone overboard to launch pro-government propaganda after it was alleged that Covaxin was approval bypassing procedures and norms.
The data of phase three trials for the Bharat Biotech vaccine have not yet been made public, nor has there been any peer review of the entire exercise. Revealing this, one of India’s top vaccine scientists, Prof Gagandeep Kang, questioning the approval, asserted, while she was ready to volunteer for a vaccine trial, she won’t like to be vaccinated with the Bharat Biotech vaccine.
In an interview with Karan Thapar for “The Wire”, Prof Kang said, without efficacy data no vaccine should be cleared, underlining, the clearance was given to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin without on a wrong premise. She added, she found the limited approval given to the Bharat Biotech vaccine without Phase 3 trial efficacy was “extremely confusing”.
There was no reaction to this among government circles. But BJP IT cell and ministers started targeting Akhilesh Yadav, when the Samajwadi Party president said, though he had full confidence in the Indian doctors and scientists, he was not going to get ‘vaccinated’ by the BJP’s political vaccine. Yadav was questioning the way the government had rushed to give clearance to the Bharat Biotech vaccine, along with Oxford’s AstraZeneca.
It is difficult to understand why Yadav was being targeted. He had just questioned the entire process of approval and the way public health crisis was allowed to be escalated. Political parties have the duty to raise questions, as what happened was related to public health safety. The government technically represents the people’s will, as it it elected by people. But at the same point of time opposition is duty bound to remind the government about its failure.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan gave instructions to his administration about the vaccination process to be adopted, and, unsurprisingly, asserted that he won’t get be vaccinated first. “I have decided that I will not be vaccinated for now. First it should be administered to others. My turn should come afterwards. We have to work to ensure that priority groups are administered with the vaccine first”, Chauhan said. 
One can blame Akhilesh Yadav for being ‘political’, but what about Prof Gagandeep Kang? If Yadav is wrong, what about Chauhan, who is refusing to be vaccinated first?
The same day, Baba Ramdev said, he would not take the vaccine as he fully ‘trusted’ yoga. However, he added, people with comorbidities should be given the vaccine first. Ironically, it is the same Ramdev who claimed he had ‘found’ a treatment for coronavirus. If Ramdev had so much of faith in the vaccine, he should opt for the same. But by suggesting that he would not take it and yoga can do the job for him, Ramdev sent a message that those who do yoga wouldn’t be infected!
Prof Gagandeep Kang
How would the Indian political class ensure that people have faith in the two vaccines without taking the first dose? Some TV channels have started sending their reporters to be vaccinated, claiming within no time that nothing happened to them. Is this the way to promote a vaccine? Do clinical trials happen when a person starts claiming within 24 hours that ‘nothing’ has happened them? The way India hurriedly approved its vaccination programme is turning out to be an international embarrassment. The “Washington Post” said, “India’s vaccine nationalism is a global risk.”
World over leaders have offered themselves to be vaccinated first to give a boost to the scientific community and build confidence among the people in the vaccination programme. United States president-elect Joe Biden got himself vaccinated on December 20, while vice president Kamala Harris got the vaccination shot on December 29. Three former American presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama have approached requisite American agencies to be vaccinated live on TV.  
Saudi prince Mohammad Bin Salman was the first to get vaccinated in his country. Russian president Vladimir Putin got his daughter vaccinated first, while British prime minister Boris Johnson is likely to be vaccinated soon. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has got himself vaccinated first.
In India, we are hearing preaching and publicity. This is not the time to show one’s ‘bravery’ but to build confidence among the people. Haryana minister Anil Vij offered himself for a trial shot of Covaxin by Bharat Biotech, but found himself Covid positive within a few days. He was admitted in Medanta hospital for nearly one month and is now recuperating at home.
The vaccination process has to be simple and without any claims and counterclaims. It is an issue of public safety. Scientists have done their job, health workers have risked their life saving us. But an unfortunate situation has been created after the Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute publicly challenged each other. No scientist ever says that their work is 110% or 200% risk free. Anyone speaking like this looks like a street vendor who wants to the product at any cost.
Such terminology from senior persons should not have happened. They are only dilute the seriousness of the entire process as well as the vaccines. It is the duty of the government to follow the approval process strictly. We have waited for so long and will wait for more but one must ensure that things are done transparently.
One can blame Akhilesh Yadav for being ‘political’, but what about Prof Kang? If Yadav is wrong, what about Chauhan, who is refusing to be vaccinated first? Indeed, the vaccination process should be beyond party politics. It should be celebrated as victory of science over a dreaded disease. Would good sense prevail?
---
*Human rights defender

Comments

veerar said…
It is Bill Gates' Vaccine Fanaticism objecting all other combinations like HCQ,Zinc compuounds,Vitamin C and D etc, that is the most dangerous and NOT the so-called India's Vaccine Nationalism whatever it means. It is the Western Pharma Cos who benefit by way of HUGE PROFITs by any Vaccination Program,enjoying Immunity against Suits,filed by Victims who suffer paralysis,infertility (STERIKITY),etc and even Death is caused,in some cases as in the recent Vaccines against COVID-19...

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i