By Sushil Kutty
These days of covid-19 eyes open and first thing in the morning the search begins with keywords ‘covid’, ‘delta’, ‘cowin’, ‘vaccine’… Oops, there aren’t any free vaccines available even today, daddy. Nope mama, you’re wrong, delta is on a scorched earth binge in some quarters of the globe. In Houston, Texas, children under 12 have been detected with the highly contagious delta. The rest of the United States has scores of delta dens and “wear masks indoors” is back in fashion.
And India last night crossed over into elite territory, joined the club of 4 lakh plus covid deaths. USA is numero uno, Brazil No.2, and India ‘teesra’, followed by Mexico with 2 lakh plus. And then they’re asserting that even one dose of Covid vaccine saves lives and prevents hospitalization. That you’ll scrape through to ‘long covid’, defy death in the bargain. A friend in Pune, Maharashtra, India, says he has been tapping the Modi Government’s Cowin app, hunting for free vaccinations and every time came up with zilch, zero, khalaas!
So, if Prime Minister Narendra Modi says all above 18 are eligible for “free vaccines”, where do they go and get it, in the restaurant at the end of the Universe? The Pune friend insists all “talk of free vaccinations is bunkum…”, and it’s hard not to take him seriously. There’s this Muslim family of papa, mama, daughter and son opposite and the front door’s locked. The neighbour next door wakes up every morning and retires to sleep every evening. Clockwork. But have they taken their covid vaccinations?
Who knows? Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seems to have gotten over the shortages of oxygen and covid meds during the second covid wave. He wants to annex Punjab to Delhi with free electricity. Hope his deputy Manish Sisodia is up to speed on covid-preparedness for the anticipated third covid wave. Nobody wants to see funeral pyres going up in flames in Delhi’s ‘shamshan ghats’ in the New York Times and Washington Post. It’s more manna from heaven for Rana Ayyub and Barkha Dutt. These two ladies regularly hoist Modi by his own petard in the foreign media.
The other day, a BJP social media entity posted “Modi toh chala jayega, but where will you be, in what state, once he’s gone?” A subtle warning? No, clear-cut admission. Behind the hoist by his own petard, there’s realization that all good things come to an end. The Bharatiya Janata Party is cast in the spell of defeat by ‘Didi’ Mamata Banerjee. Looks like the jinx will extend to 2022, and into 2024. If Yogi goes, Modi also would.
Seriously, will Narendra Modi get another term in office? His pal and dictator Xi Jinping will with “heads bashed bloody against a steel wall forged by 1.4 billion Chinese people”. But a similar assurance cannot be given to Narendra Modi, whose goose got cooked when the Ganges transformed into a floating grave. In hindsight, Modi shouldn’t have got himself embroiled with Mamata Banerjee. Two, he should not have gloated “I’ve never seen so many people at one place”. Khumb laid him waste and then when Mukul Roy left it was like the wife walking out on the hubby. Poetic justice. Karma!
Modi’s spokespersons are on all electronic channels, defending Modi and Yogi’s reigns, with data and denials, with figures and appearances. But like somebody said on one TV channel, nothing will work, the people have made up their minds; the people want “change”, like the people wanted “change” in 2014. Déjà vu! Meanwhile, if you haven’t noticed, the effort is to divert from covid in regular discourse. There’s more of the Hindu-Muslim and conversions going awry. Rakesh Tikait is losing his cool, but he shouldn’t, he should stay away from ruckuses. It’s not good for the farmers’ agitation.
Tikait has taken his vaccination. So have a bunch of farmer leaders. Also blue-blood politicians. Most of these people have paid from their pockets for the vaccine. The worry is whether the poor and deprived are getting their free vaccines. The urban landscape is bereft of free vaccination centres. There are no crowds at any primary healthcare centres in urban or rural settings. Normally, just the mention of “free” would bring everybody, but we don’t see any evidence of huge numbers being vaccinated. The media also are not reporting, publishing pictures of people getting vaccinated for free. Do we just believe the government figures doled out every evening?
Yes, there appears to be no independent audit of free vaccination figures. This, as worldwide, in the developed countries specifically, everybody wanting to get vaccinated is getting vaccinated. In Europe, the number of new coronavirus cases have increased for the first time in 10 weeks, and the delta variant is driving a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases across Africa. Point is, the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over and even if the pandemic peters away, the coronavirus will remain in whatever form it can survive. In Maharashtra, the Saturday-Sunday ‘curfew” is back in place and there appears to be a lull in vaccinations. The question being asked is, where do I go get my free covid vaccination, anybody? (IPA Service)