Friday, 19 August, 2022
HomeYourTurnSubscriberWrites: How media 'sabotaged' vaccine rollout and a 'doomed’ vaccine nationalism

SubscriberWrites: How media ‘sabotaged’ vaccine rollout and a ‘doomed’ vaccine nationalism

From who’s to blame for the current surge in the pandemic to conspiracy theories on China, subscribers give us a piece of their mind.

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I am a subscriber of The Print and listen to every episode of Cut-the-Clutter, (CTC) National Interest and Off-the Cuff. Also, how can I miss Ilanomics and many of the other programs of The Print. I am writing this… to express my disappointment for The Print and in general the Journalist Fraternity.

 Let me share a few of my thoughts.

I agree that Indian Bureaucracy is lethargic and is scared of taking decisions. They dread the CVC and would like to postpone any decision till the last minute. And as rightfully pointed out by you in many episodes of CTC, they would like the next in line to take the decision and would postpone the decision for-ever. However, this pandemic has not given them any such time. It has spread at such a fast pace that they could not avoid taking decisions – not till they retire.

Now, in today’s National Interest (dated 01-May-21) you have criticized the Government for not placing enough orders for Vaccines. But I would request you to Introspect your Channel. In fact the whole Journalist Fraternity needs to introspect.

When the Government declared that there is a 2nd Vaccine developed wholly in India with Bharat Biotech and ICMR, all of you were critical of the Government for declaring Victory too early. I agree that Phase III trials were under way. But Shekhar in your own words “You know what – these are Politicians and what do they do – they do Politics”. So, that was not wrong. They were playing the Nationalist Card and Atmanirbhar Bharat Card to their advantage – as all politicians do.

Indian Bureaucracy as we know, cannot fund a private project, support a private Entity or cannot even give advances to its vendors. You have acknowledged this point time and again. So there was no way Indian Government could have done any of that. All our Ministers would have been dissuaded by the Indian Bureaucracy in every possible way. I think the way forward was to declare readiness of Vaccine and then as a next step fund it.

But you Journalist Fraternity – KILLED THE IDEA. You all criticized the Government heavily for declaring it too early. The Print was a bit sober in doing so, but others in your fraternity went for the Over-Kill and what happens – Government develops Cold Feet. No actions were initiated for placing orders for any Vaccines.

As usual, now you have the cheek to question the government for not placing orders for Vaccines. Remember, we are not the US where the Government can fund Private Projects. (They gave advances to Pharma companies for Research even before any trials were done). In India, we cannot fund a project and after 2 months say that the Project Failed. Here the Government cannot say later, we funded a Project that failed.

My dear Shekhar – THIS IS INDIA. And research – of the nature of developing a Vaccine – has a high probability of failure. Hence, it was a right way – Indian Government declaring readiness of Vaccine and then paying advances to Bharat Biotech. This was the best way of finding-a-way through our Bureaucratic maze to fund it. But you all sabotaged it. The Journalist Fraternity sabotaged it.

While I agree that Indian Government delayed placement of Orders for the Vaccines. But, I was a strong supporter of this Government move when they declared COVAXIN a victory even though it was too early. I could sense it, that it could be a move to fund it as a next step. But you all sabotaged it.

You need to put a hand on your heart and speak to yourself and check whether you have Blood on your Hands. If you ask me, you all are also responsible for the murder of Indians by indirectly delaying the Vaccines. You all sabotaged a move by the Government and have no right to question the Government of delay in Vaccines – I can criticize but you have lost the right, as you are party to the delay Mr.Shekhar

–Dinesh Prabhu

I am writing as a concerned citizen of India. The colossal mistakes made by the Modi- Shah combo in taking vital decisions (on)  the corona pandemic in India, is simultaneously marked with the growth of the flowing beard by the PM. Could it be possible that the Modi- Shah combo has been replaced by similar looking imposters or some kind of chip has been put in them by a superior military power like the Chinese such that they will now dance to their tune?

The Chinese have made deep inroads into the country. They wouldn’t like a strong and opinionated Nationalist minded govt in the helm of India. A sissy govt of the confused selfish Congress would suit the Chinese.

I heard the speech of the PM in Bengal. It did not have the true essence of a Modi spontaneous address. The Bengali words were wrongly pronounced. They were repeated monotonously throughout the speech like a zombie. Also it had the signature of a speech writer. Something I never felt when I heard Modi previously.

Also when the I&B ministry ordinance was announced against the digital media, it smelled of Corruption with a capital C.

I was surprised that Modi was silent about the sheer injustice of sidelining true news generating media in favor of the social media Titans who produce less news and mostly scavenge on the real news groups.

Also, after such strict measures during the first wave why would the same govt. drop all measures of Covid protocol deliberately? It’s only if there has been a total replacement by an enemy stooge in the highest office of the country that this can be explained. But then Amit Shah also needs to be kidnapped and replaced simultaneously.

Only that can explain the laughable attempts of the Indian bureaucracy to stifle International media. It’s like someone is trying to prove all accusations made by Western media about the Modi Shah establishment previously to be true with these current actions.

Something is seriously wrong and I pray for the well being of our PM and Shah, if they are in mortal danger by a foreign power And consequently the country is heading for a collision course.

Hope God will intervene when there is time to recover and unveil and deter any conspiracy theory I am imagining against India.

-Uma C Mondal 

In the assembly elections coverage- while you ( Shekhar Gupta) have done the expected .. and had some numerous presentations celebrating the results in West Bengal, nowhere have you mentioned the number of BJP workers killed in the last years – and the strong and unsecular regional bias that prevails in West Bengal. After the Congress – Siddhart Shankar Ray 1972-77 – (as a college student – I had liked him), no national party could dare to go and even attempt to establish itself there. It’s ‘outsiders’ vs Bengalis.. that you have not touched upon. Don’t you think that the ‘integration’ of West Bengal is yet not complete in the true sense? The shameless post poll violence too. You are conveniently evasive – and secure in your cocoon that it has gone unnoticed.

As far as Covid goes – you have mentioned Kejriwal as a tall leader – one amonst three which includes Modi.

But I haven’t heard a word of criticism of how Kejriwal has handled the crisis in Delhi. Except for his obession to see himself in his own Ad campaigns – and I am sure many publications must be obliged to him for the unending PR spending- the ‘unknown fact’ he has passed on recently to us is that ‘Corona is back’. I haven’t seen any concrete steps like setting up oxygen filling stations or even an empowered MLA desk to montior availability in each colony – he has 62 out of 70 MLA-  taken up by him midst all the chaos,  pain and tragedy. You are happily totally mute in this regard. And with a motive I and you know.

For the sake of this great country – where reason and wisdom have stood over religion – and dharma over nationalism  – in the days of its glorious past;  please make some attempt to be honest with what you choose to ignore. Can you be the unbiased one amongst the whole lot sold to someone or another?

–Raman Baluja

This is my man ki baat.

Among many issues I would like to talk about the present Covid crisis in India. The vaccination program never picked up any pace since January and then started going down in April till now. A layman understands that for 1.38B people we need ~2.8B vaccines and it would take us 1.5 years to cover at the present pace. It is a failure by the central government who was busy glorifying the victory of the 1st wave. This Covid pandemic is a national disaster and so the majority blame for the supply and vaccine shortage goes to the central government but not the states.

Secondly it is a failure by the smart IAS officers on doing their job of planning and advising the government to stay on top of this ongoing crisis. Now we have started seeing oxygen and supplies coming from many industries in India and around the world, yet patients keep dying in shortage of oxygen. A government who made possible the abrogation of article 370 in record speed under overwhelming odds, they are still failing after weeks of oxygen shortage and vaccine supply to its people.

Moreover the vaccine nationalism doomed us as we denied peer reviewed Pfizer and Sputnik-V many months ago for whatever excuse, and now we are seeking them anyway. Lastly in India there is 0.5 bed to every 1000 people which is 4.3 for China, a country with a similar population. This is just one parameter to show that we need double the budget allocation for healthcare for the long term. The government should follow, not conditional welfare for politics but politics for unconditional welfare. I know that if we have intent we India could be the Hanuman Ji moving mountains for our people..

–Pritam Jyoti Borah 

It took just one ship – EVER GIVEN to stop the world’s supply chain in its tracks. The maxim’ We are only as strong as our weakest link’ should hold dear for all those worldwide who have sat from the comfort of their homes whiles nearly 90% of the worlds commodities were silently being transported via thousands of ships all over the planet. 

The faceless seafarers on board these vessels are rarely seen forget spoken about on regular ‘commando comic’ news channels but these professionals trudge on relentlessly ensuring timelines and goods reach safely. One infraction was the maga containership the ‘EVER GIVEN’ which caused discomfort to this robust behemoth throwing worldwide commodity prices in a tizzy and disrupting supply chains.

Indian seafarers are now the co-lateral damage from the Indian Governments ineffectual efforts in containing the Carona virus resulting in another pandemic brewing at sea in the hearts and minds of these millions of Indian seafarers serving worldwide thousands of miles away from their motherland.

Seafaring is a unique community and for a Mariner to return home, his replacement or relief, as commonly referred to in marine parlance, has to fly out from India to a foreign port at short notice, have a quick handover swapping places with the sailor who will now undertake the same arduous journey back to India.  As per the Director General of shipping India provides 9.35% of the global seafarers and ranks third on the world scale with 15349 seafarers employed ( 2017). 

Sadly, since the second ‘tsunami’ hit of Covid 19 engulfed the nation, these Mariners have suddenly become International pariahs as travel to/from most international destinations have now been banned. 

Seafarers travel on a ‘just in time’ basis  and the flexibility required to arrange crew reliefs have ceased to exist.  This has led to several heart wrenching cases where seafarers now have a convenient port to get home from Singapore but due to the carnage of death and infection known to the world of the current 2021 second wave in India, several countries have banned flight out of India and furthermore neither are Indians allowed to leave the ship to fly home most often not even under exceptional cases. 

The general trip lengths are over 9 months for the lower ranks and these will be deemed to be extended with the given rational of Covid. Last year it was the worlds seafarers who were left on such ‘floating prisons’ in many parts of the world, this time it is unlikely this uniquely ‘India issue’ will be a cause of concern for owners and or other world Governments.

The Mental health burden for such resilient professionals is now taking its toll with increase in the number of suicides. Shockingly even the ISWAN (International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network ) has admitted that no one has been keeping an accurate global record of the seafarers suicides.  Imagine a small group of around 17 to 24 individuals, some of them women, with minimal access for social interaction and limited internet facilities. These ships will slowly get frustratingly transformed into isolated islands of despair. The mental trauma a human being can undergo with no hope on the horizon attacks the very soul of human persistence to exist.  

The Indian government should interact with various Key states to demands such corridors of transit remain open under all circumstances for Indian seafarers enabling them to be promptly re-united with their families in this time of need and help prevent a humanitarian crisis on the worlds oceans which will be severely impacting the Indian seafaring community.

–A. Almeida

These pieces are being published as they have been received – they have not been edited/fact-checked by ThePrint.

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