Post Mortem

Leveraged vaccine populism and subnationalism

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/27/2020 1:53:13 PM IST

 Totalitarians by hook or cook want to retain their power-base intact with their fake narratives and false promises. Coronavirus has enabled further to tighten their grip over their governance in the absence of peoples’ as well as oppositions’ active participatory process in polity and governance. As of now, more than 220,000 Americans have lost their lives, which is more than one-fifth of the total global deaths, and about 8,752, 121 cases reported positive.  For some months, the United States of American continues to remain in top position. India is in the second position with 7,432,680 cases and 113,032 deaths. 

In such gloomy and devastating scenarios, along with fake narratives and false promises, we keep hearing some good news as Anthony Stephen Fauci, an American physician and immunologist who served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984,in an interview said that “The good news on the horizon is that vaccines look promising.” He added that “… hopefully by the time we gat to the end of November, the beginning of December … but at least two – vaccines that are safe and effective.”

Medical fraternity and experts on infectious diseases do know well that it’s a long process and would take at least some more time – could be first quarter or second quarter of 2021or when - no one knows. Everyone keep predicting, but no one is certain. The top pharmaceuticals such as Johnson and Johnson and others are engaged in developing vaccines for coronavirus. The onus vests with the politicians who keep promising, speculating and exaggerating many things to keep the hopes alive of those who have been infected and others high spirit.

By instilling all sorts of hypes, they want to keep their political agenda high amongst the electorates,so that the people do not lose their hopes on them.Likewise, Indian pharmaceuticals such as Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute, Zydus Cadila, Panacea Biotech NSE -0.58 %, Indian Immunological, Mynvax and Biological E are among the domestic pharma firms working on the coronavirus vaccines in India. Every country is racing towards developing vaccines because the survival of many totalitarians is dependent on the development and distribution of vaccines to their people first though some may promise beyond. 

Vaccines are multi-billion project and everyone is racing towards it. Global pharmaceutical corporations want to maximize its profits and so engaged in serious research of the vaccine. Coronavirus has indeed leveraged vaccine populism. The ruling political parties and the dispensation of the United States of America and India that have the dubious distinctions of representing number one and two position in deaths and affected respectively are now involved in vaccine populism. During pre-Covid-19 times, electioneering particularly in terms of policiesand programs used to be of different nature offering diverse sops to lure the electorates.

Test case of this is, in about ten days’ time, the United States of American will be going for polls to elect its president and the State of Bihar is going for Assembly polls. These elections are closely observed and monitored because many views them as referendum particularly on the leadership of the totalitarians. Both the leadership seem to have faltered for not addressing the pandemic in apt ways. They did take their own time to diagnose and analyse COVID-19 and went in their own strategies by employing diverse approaches to tide-over the situations.

As a result, people had to face dire consequences. Both the leaders all the time compared other nations and wanted to score brownie points. How can there be comparison in relative terms of death and infections? Whether it is more population or less population, there should have been more tests done and found out the percentage as against the population who suffer in coronavirus and then start comparing? It is unfortunate that we have no such data available.In India we keep talking about hypothetical ways. 

Leaderships of both the countries have different approaches, but somehow or other, they want to protect and preserve their vote base by offering all sorts of narratives and rhetoric. The gimmick Trump played after having tested positive and the ways he defends for not wearing mask and maintaining physical distancing shows his bizarre behaviour. Those belonging to the ruling dispensation of India is using Covid vaccine delivery mission which has taken a political turn with Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiling BJP’s Bihar’s election manifesto and promising free vaccines to everyone in the state of Bihar.

Then on the other states ruled by the BJP such as Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and an ally of BJP, AIDMK that rules Tamil Nadu jumped into the bandwagon on the free vaccine populism.In due course of time, other BJP-ruled states would follow suit. Whether it is red-ruled America or blue-ruled America, it is the United States of America. Once the vaccine is developed, the citizens of America should be benefitted. Similarly, whether it is Bihar or Karnataka or Nagaland or whatever, it should be available to all the citizens.

Vaccine populism is being used as a political slogan in India, which is rather unfortunate. We need to wait and see, because vaccine once it is developed who would be the beneficiaries and how the government is going to organize its availability to cross-sections of people. Leaders and political parties have stooped to such levels that they play with human life. While totalitarians from other countries keep pursuing and in their narratives talk about vaccine nationalism to maximize the hype such as “America First” or “Make America Great”, but in India could boast its own self-goal variant: vaccine sub-nationalism—aggravating the problem.

Vaccine should not become a tool of any political party tool in return of votes.  It should not also figure in party’s manifesto. For the sake of votes and winning the elections some of the ruling parties have entered into cheap populism. Life and livelihood of citizensare more important despite his/her political affiliation.Those who govern the nation-states should not succumb to cheap populism by trading on vaccine. As of now no one knows when would the vaccine actually come out and the stakes are too high. 

Instead of strategizing and planning for the arrest of coronavirus and its spread to the communities, governments that belongs to the BJP are trying to capitalise on vaccine populism, Millions of lives have been lost and many while sitting for dinner or attending functions we observe those known to us are missing or hospitalized or tested positive. The prerogative as well as the priority of the government of the day should save the lives of people, and not to enter into cheap populist luring.

To conclude let me invoke, the Father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi said: “When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been murderers and tyrants, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it, always.” 

Dr. John Mohan Razu

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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