Skip to main content

Vaccination policy: Modi’s One Earth One Health only for international consumption?

By Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* 

When India was reeling under the severest impact of the Covid pandemic, and the peak of around 450,000 new cases was reported in 24 hours around mid April 2021, then an interesting chronology of events were taking place regarding the Covid vaccination programme (along with Kumbh in Uttarakhand and elections in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh).
The government of India had observed ‘teekautsav’ from 11-14 April 2021, then soon after had taken kudos by announcing vaccination for everyone above 18 years nationwide, and on April 23, 2021, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, declared its ‘Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy’ as part of which it abdicated its responsibility of vaccinating the citizens in age group 18-44 years.
The ‘liberalised’ in the phrase did not pertain to people, it was intended for private corporations and no wonder the government was working in tandem with them. Two private vaccine manufacturers were allowed to declare their exorbitant costs for state governments and private hospitals. Nobody would believe that the companies acted at their own behest.
After protestation from various state governments, civil society, lagging behind in vaccination drive and pressure from the Supreme Court, which described its liberalized vaccination policy as arbitrary and irrational, the government has come up with Revised Guidelines for implementation of National Covid Vaccination Programme on June 8 under which it has now taken responsibility of procuring the 75% vaccines by the union government, including on behalf of the state governments.
However, the Prime Minister has still allowed 25% vaccines to be procured by private corporations. A ceiling of Rs. 150 has been put on the vaccination charges for private hospitals which will procure Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik vaccines, respectively at Rs 600, Rs 1,200 and Rs 948. With GST, the final cost would be Rs 780, Rs 1,410 and Rs 1,145, respectively.
It is important to note that the cap of Rs 150 was announced on vaccination charges for private hospitals, but vaccine manufacturers were given a free hand to announce their prices. We should remember that government had procured Covishield and Covaxin at Rs 150 per dose earlier. Then why has the government agreed for such inflated prices announced by the manufacturers?
The office memorandum says that if Covid Vaccination Centres over-charge then strict action will be taken against them but vaccine prices can be suitably modified if the manufacturer declares changed prices. Why is the government while being strict against the private hospitals being lenient towards the private companies?
Why is the Prime Minister, whose priority should have been to vaccinate country’s population to an extent so that herd immunity would have kicked in, still allowing private companies to mint profit? Narendra Modi makes an appeal for ‘One Earth, One Health’ at the G7 outreach summit seeking support for Covid vaccine patent waiver but is reluctant to implement ‘One Nation, One Vaccine’ policy in his own country.
It turns out the private hospitals’ reach is very limited. Out of 7.4 crore vaccines made available in the month of May, 1.85 crores were allocated to private hospitals. While we witnessed government vaccination centres closed due to shortage of vaccines, the private hospitals were sitting over vaccines being able to administer only 22 lakh of the doses. Out of 1.2 crores vaccines actually procured by private hospitals, half of them were cornered by nine big hospitals in metropolitan centres.
The glaring criminal complicity of the government in helping private players make profit at the cost of people’s lives stands exposed. It also apparent that people with money will have excess supply and poor will suffer the shortage. It goes against Modi’s call of One Earth One Health, which was probably meant only for international public consumption. In Amit Shah’s words this is merely a ‘jumla.’
In a vulgar display of favouritism now the government is preparing to give indemnity to foreign vaccine manufacturer Pfizer, an advantage which is not extended to any vaccine manufacturer so far. If the indemnity is offered to all manufacturers it’ll also cover Bharat Biotech, whose vaccine is being administered under Emergency Use Authorisation as the phase III trials have not been completed.
Haunting question should be why are basic services failing to reach the most in need? Why has routine immunization not reached every child?
The clumsy handling of vaccination policy by the government gets more confounded with every decision. On one hand Indian government is joining other nations worldwide in negotiating a global treaty on human rights and businesses, so that multinational corporations can be held legally liable for human rights abuse if any, but on other hand, it is to be seen will it walk the talk on corporate accountability? People have not forgotten several instances of corporate abuse in our nation including the heart wrenching Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1984.
Government has to move beyond market based so-called ‘solutions’ (as often they add to the problem) if it is to impact positive change for the most in need. Initiatives like using drones to deliver vaccines need to be very carefully reviewed because of the past history where profits for corporations have taken primacy over people’s interests.
Also, the haunting question should be why are basic services failing to reach the most in need populations? Why has routine immunization not reached every child? Why do most deaths happen due to diseases that were primarily preventable? Why corporations whose products make us sick and ill continue to mint profits while our populations suffer several pandemics of avoidable diseases? Why profiteering from illness is a norm and not a crime against humanity?
In a mock drill on April 26, 2021 morning at Paras Hospital at Agra, the owner Dr Arinjay Jain facing acute shortage of oxygen shut off its supply for 5 minutes to 96 patients to check which patients were critical. 22 patients were identified who started turning blue. Rest 74 were told to arrange for their own oxygen.
The hospital claimed only seven patients died over the next two days, however an enquiry reveals that 16 died. Paradoxically, the hospital has been given a clean chit. While Jain has been naïve enough to admit his dilemma and so-called biggest experiment, who should be held responsible for deaths of patients due to negligence inside government hospitals and while waiting for beds in hospitals in ambulances outside?
We have to remember that in 2017 when oxygen shortage was not yet a ubiquitous phenomenon, Dr Kafeel Khan lost his job merely because oxygen supply to the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur, where he was nodal officer of encephalitis ward, was cut off due to non-payment of dues, something for which he was not responsible as was proved in a departmental enquiry. 
Seventy children had then died. If punitive action is the answer, then scale of deaths this time require some more heads to roll and some more institutions and establishments or even the entire governments should be sealed for abdication of its responsibility! But probably by giving a clean chit to Paras hospital, the government doesn’t want to open a Pandora’s box.
---
*With Socialist Party (India)

Comments

TRENDING

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".

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

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.

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They