India is today passing through a phase where politics trumps governance. First, the country and the world waited for a vaccine to combat the coronavirus. After a long wait of several months, vaccines were developed and tested and found potent enough to counter the coronavirus or to lessen the impact of the disease. India was one of the vaccine producing countries and should not have faced any vaccine shortage had there been adequate planning. But because every decision was centralized and the Prime Minister’s Office was the sole deciding authority as to whether Indians should be vaccinated first or whether India had the luxury to export the vaccines and India chose the latter, the country now finds itself begging for vaccines from the international community.
Of course, India needs to become self-reliant or Atma Nirbhar and to be respected for what it is capable of. After all, India exports the best minds to developed nations like the US and UK. Many Indians add value to the Information Technology and the Science and Technology sectors of the western world. Unfortunately these best brains do not find the ecosystem that promotes and nurtures research and scholarship in their own country and are forced to migrate to the west to upscale their knowledge and scholarship and to contribute to the cause of science which in turn benefits humanity at large.
Without considering that its own population’s vaccination needs are substantially higher than that of most nations, the Indian Government decided to go on an image building exercise and export the Covid vaccines to different countries in what is euphemistically termed “vaccination diplomacy.” It was the most short-sighted thing to do because India now has to rely on the generosity of countries like the US for vaccines that it urgently requires. Vaccine diplomacy showed a lack of diplomatic brainwave. In fact, it was all about building Prime Minister Modi’s image. It has cost the nation dearly because the recent announcement that those in the 18-44 age group are entitled to be vaccinated, has backfired badly. There aren’t enough vaccines for this age group. Those that have registered and given an appointment met with disappointment when they turned up at the vaccination centres. Queries about when the vaccination would be available are met with blank stares as no one is sure when the vaccine would be available.
In Meghalaya, while the over 45 age group are hemming and hawing as to whether to take the shot or not, the 18-44 age group who are ready are told the vaccine is not available yet but is likely to arrive this month. It is rightly said, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” India is now ruled by a government without a vision and people are dying by the thousands because of this lack of preparedness for the second Covid wave.