Divisive Identity Politics Barring India: Formulating a uniform public policy during COVID -19

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mRNA Vaccine

The magnitude of the COVID pandemic and the restored affliction found various, among different countries around the globe. When it is coming to a developing third world nation like India, the socio-political problems becomes more varied and dynamic than its developed counterparts. India is presently facing the second wave of the pandemic. As per the official records of the country’s health ministry, near about 300,000 positive cases and over 2000 deaths are being recorded every day. Though the rate of mortality is still low, however, the health experts are still worried about the future repercussion of this second wave in India.

Post the first wave of COVID-19 in India, last year and after the consequential implementation of lockdown for three months in a row, the country’s economy was simply shattered. The condition was worse in India because of its continuous budgetary deficits to the government exchequer, lower per capita income and diminishing economic growth for the last four years. That apart the migrant labour workforce which accounts for nearly 70% of the total workforce of the nation had to suffer most from the sudden imposition of the lockdown by the Indian government. It seemed that that the ruling political regime was more interested to implement a hard lockdown than to embark on tracing and increasing the test numbers.

Finance Minister, Mrs. Nirmala Sitaraman later on declared almost Rupees One lac fifty thousand crores economic package in three phases. Initially there was a very small cash transfer directly to few people including migrant workers.

Interest freezing for the time being (six months) was announced upon EMI (Equated Monthly Installment) but no waiver was given to the common masses by the government. Emphasis was more given to the big corporates and medium industries than to the small business communities and most vulnerable of the society. Practically speaking, in India there were no impressive and activated public policy.

India is based upon various cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious diversities with the core adversity of poverty and illiteracy. These two adverse components caused several detrimental casualties for COVID management as well as passing of various

declared social security schemes to the targeted castes and religions in India.

Now coming in straight to the vaccination policy which has been initiated by the Indian central government from February 2021. The government of India has taken its stance to vaccinate as quickly as possible, to manage the COVID war in India. In Spite of such measures, major tremors of infection are being recorded across the country. The number of casualties are increasing on a daily basis. Initially the front line COVID warriors including the doctors, medical staffs, co-morbid patients and senior citizens were being vaccinated. From April 1 focus has been significantly shifted to the mid age group people of the country which is any individual aged 50 years and above.In between Prime Minister Modi and his government including the ICMR (Indian Council Of Medical Research) has ruled out the possibilities of implementing another phase of lockdown. Various business communities, economic chambers including the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank Of

India has totally disregarded the notion of a second lockdown in India. However, the recent developments points towards a second lockdown as various independent state including the country’s capital, Delhi, have announced lockdowns and public curfews to curb the steady growth rate of infection.

As a result of the recent shortage of vaccines across the country, India had to take a second look at its foreign vaccine policy (as India is being termed as the Vaccine Production Capital of the world). After havoc criticism from the opposition political parties, the central government has declared its new vaccine policy agenda as “Nation First.” India has at the moment partially halted the export of vaccines through its Project Maitri. Moreover, in order to address the vaccine shortage,the central government gave a green signal to the Russian made Sputnik vaccine along with the already existing Covaxin and Covishield.

Presently the situation and multi dimensional affliction of the national vaccination policy has caused a massive havoc in the country among various economic stratas, caste and religion. As per my observation the present regime of the government has to a large extent taken a majoritarian agenda in vaccine implementation, particularly focusing on one particular community. Various state chief ministers of the country have started alleging that the government is practicing a preferential vaccination policy instead of maintaining a uniformity across the country when the nation is facing its worst ever experience of the second wave of the pandemic. Now it is also a big challenge for the current Indian regime to implement a nation wide, state of the art and uniformed vaccination policy across the length and breadth of the country. The present government needs to rise above petty identity and caste politics to effectively channelize the “vaccine for all” agenda to save India from the brink of an impending public health catastrophe that lies ahead.

Bijon Chakraborty

Bijon Chakraborty

ijon Chakraborty is a socioeconomic and political observer and an academician. He is also the Secretary Of North Bengal Economic Association and Founder of BIJONOMICS.

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