Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced on June 8th that his government will take over the COVID-19 vaccine drive for the 18-44 years age group from June 21st 2021 onwards after being reprimanded by the Supreme Court for its double standards. On June 21st, ie, the first day itself, the Modi regime announced that a record 8,616,373 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered. Modi’s servile mainstream press went gaga over this news. However, a simple fact check would show that the record 8.6m COVID-19 vaccination on a single day isn’t a genuine achievement, but a PR stunt to bedazzle the audience, the quintessential upper-caste elites and middle-class.
The International Day of Yoga stunt
Modi picked June 21st to take over the vaccination programme for the 18-44 years age group, which was earlier entrusted to the States without any financial support from the Union, as the day is celebrated as International Day of Yoga. Yoga is marketed globally by the Modi regime and is promoted as a holistic wellness solution. It has been claimed that yoga has helped India fight COVID-19, which remains scientifically unverified. Even Modi called yoga a “ray of hope” at present.
By starting the vaccination drive on June 21st, Modi marketed the International Day of Yoga and adjoined the record 8.6m COVID-19 vaccination on a single day with the occasion. Modi’s Hindu nationalist-supremacist image suffered a severe setback during the COVID-19 second wave, which killed thousands daily in April and May 2021. Now Modi is using the International Day of Yoga and the claimed vaccination record to absolve himself of all allegations.
How the record 8.6m COVID-19 vaccines on a single day was achieved?
If the data of vaccination is analysed from May 1st onwards, when the Modi regime opened it for the 18-44 years age group, it will be found that a severe vaccine shortage prevailed in India, which even forced the Central Government to extend the gap between two doses for those who have taken their first shot. Since May, less than 3m vaccinations were done on an average daily, far less than 10m daily vaccinations necessary to inoculate the people. The government is claiming that by July or August it can manage 10m doses daily.
According to the government’s data, until June 22nd, only 5.5% of 950m Indians eligible for vaccination have got the shots. The vaccination drive was done slowly in Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states until Sunday, June 20th, to ensure there is a huge stock available on June 21st. This is how records are made by the Modi regime.
A report from Scroll.in shows that the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, which administered 1.69m vaccine doses on June 21st, the highest in India, delivered just 692 doses on the previous day. “While 338,847 vaccine doses were delivered on June 16, the next four days showed a steeply declining trend: 124,226 doses on June 17, 14,862 doses on June 18, 22,006 doses on June 19, and just 692 doses of the vaccine on June 20,” the report stated citing Madhya Pradesh’s record. Between June 13th and June 16th, an average of 228,784 doses were administered daily, which is five times the average of 40,446 that was administered between June 17th and June 20th.
Another BJP-ruled state, Karnataka, was next to Madhya Pradesh with 1.12m vaccines administered on June 21st. But on the previous day, the state administered 68,172 doses only. Uttar Pradesh administered 725,898 vaccines on June 21st, but it delivered only 8,800 doses on June 20th. The same is the case with BJP’s “model state” Gujarat with 510,434 vaccinations on June 21st while on June 20th it delivered 189,953 vaccines.
There have been no such dramatic variations in the records of non-BJP states on June 21st and they maintained a higher vaccination rate vis-à-vis the BJP-ruled states even in the June 8th to June 20th period. This proves that the BJP-ruled state governments deliberately slowed down the vaccination drive from June 17th to June 20th to boost the numbers on June 21st and give an ego massage to Mr Modi.
What’s forgotten in the hullaballoo over the record vaccination claim?
As India’s big corporate-controlled mainstream press celebrated the record 8.6m COVID-19 vaccination on a single day, they concealed some disturbing facts. The sudden increase in a single-day vaccination will consume the vaccine stocks of the states faster and will cause a problem for those who are waiting for the shots. India needs available stocks for 4m to 5m vaccines a day to carry out the vaccination drive effectively.
The mainstream press didn’t disclose the fact that after the record 8.6m COVID-19 vaccination on a single day on June 21st, the total vaccination fell to 54,24,374 doses on June 22nd. This shows a drop of 3,191,999 doses in a single day. Isn’t this a big failure of the Modi regime? Then why the mainstream press remained mum?
Jubilation on vaccination and silence on the death toll
The mainstream press remains conspicuously silent on Modi’s failure to fulfil the responsibilities during the COVID-19 second wave. There are reports that the BJP-ruled states have been covering up the real scenario by under-reporting COVID-19 deaths.
In a worst-case situation, around 4.2m people may have died due to COVID-19 in India, The New York Times estimated. In a most likely scenario, the newspaper estimated that the total number of deaths can be around 1.6m. In another report, the newspaper showed how the government has covered up India’s death tally.
The Indian government has refuted these claims, calling them “propaganda”. But none of the Indian mainstream media houses showed the guts to analyse the data like the foreign publications that have lambasted the Modi regime for its incompetence. The Indian mainstream media houses have largely toed the government’s line, which states that only 390,660 people died due to COVID-19 until June 22nd 2021, with 1,358 succumbing on the last day itself.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is shown as Modi’s heir apparent, dismissed all criticisms against his government’s failure in saving lives. Yogi claimed that the COVID-19 death rate in Uttar Pradesh has been lower vis-à-vis that of the US and Europe, which was highlighted by the Indian mainstream media. However, it is found that the death count in 24 Uttar Pradesh districts is 43 times higher than the official COVID-19 tolls.
Earlier other BJP-ruled states have been also found to be hiding the COVID-19 death numbers to prevent embarrassment. This political compulsion of hiding the real death figures by the Modi regime has become a curse for India’s public health. This fabricated death data prevents the government from taking adequate measures to upgrade the public health infrastructure in the BJP-ruled states and gives wrong data to medical researchers, jeopardising future research.
Modi and the BJP can’t escape accountabilities
As the Modi regime has been concealing the death tally to portray a rosy picture of India’s COVID-19 situation, it’s important to hold it, and the ruling BJP, accountable for the deaths. The Modi regime can’t simply take credit for the record 8.6m COVID-19 vaccination on a single day while passing the buck of its failures on the people.
For months, the Modi regime didn’t prepare India for the second wave. Even when thousands were dying daily, Modi was addressing election rallies. He went missing when the situation worsened. The BJP remained in denial, even when corpses were floating in the Ganges in Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh.
Modi returned on June 8th, soon after the COVID-19 cases showed a downward trend. Now by using the record 8.6m COVID-19 vaccination on a single day, he is creating a “positive” narrative. But can he be allowed a free walk? Can Modi and the BJP be absolved of their crimes? The future popular mandate holds the answers to these.