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Have India's rulers favoured Gujarat by supplying only 'safer' Covishield to state?

By Rajiv Shah
The controversy surrounding the two vaccines appears to be taking a scary turn. It so happened that I was talking to a senior healthcare expert of Gujarat on January 17. A very kind soul, this expert, whom I have known since 1990s, took the vaccine and posted the exercise on the Facebook so that others should know it's "safe". I contacted him on Facebook messenger, congratulated his gesture, and asked him which one was it. He said, "Covishield. This is the only one in Gujarat."
Covishield is the name the vaccine developed by Oxford, UK, and it is being produced in the Serum Institute in Pune. It has completed all the three phases of trials. The third and final phase, which took place after enrolling around 36,000 people, I presume, in Brazil and South Africa. In sharp contrast, the other vaccine, Covaxin, a Bharat Biotech product, hasn't yet completed its third trial, yet it has been "approved" by the Government of India.
The health expert telling me that Covishield -- the "safer" vaccine -- is the "only one in Gujarat" struck me. I phoned up several knowledgeable persons, and I was told that more than five lakh doses of this brand of vaccine has been supplied to Gujarat. "As for Covaxin (considered by doctors as 'unsafe' because it has not completed all the three phases of trial), it will be available, but at a later stage", I was told. I was left wondering: Why?
This made me contact some senior journalists in Delhi, who told me that in the national capital "only Covaxin has been supplied"! I was told, on Monday, out of 100 All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) doctors, only 11 agreed to take the vaccine because it is "unsafe." They would take Covishield and not Covaxin, they added. I wondered: Is it because Delhi's overwhelming majority disapproves of BJP politics that there the "unsafe" Covaxin has been made available, while in Modi's home state the "safe" Covishield has been supplied?
Not without reason, this seems scary for those of us who are proud Gujaratis. India's politics is dominated by two persons who belong to Gujarat -- Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. And, this is not the only time when they have favoured Gujarat over other states. Media has repeatedly reported how Modi is surrounded by officials who have served in Gujarat. Favouring Gujarat like this might lead to people from other states feeling uneasy. If one looks at social media, I have found that derogatory comments on Gujaratis have become more frequent.
Not only those critical of Modi and Shah address Gujaratis scornfully "Gujjus", they often say Gujjus have "captured" India and are destroying the country! I do take exception to such comments, telling those posting such comments are sounding "parochial", as Gandhi and Sardar Patel were also Gujarati. Some of them readily accept my argument. However, isn't there reason to believe that Gujarat's own leaders, who are ruling India, are showing clear signs of parochialism?
Meanwhile, searching through Twitter, I found that already there are misgivings about Gujarat being supplied with the "safer" vaccine. One of them, Shahid Siddique, editor of the Urdu weekly "Nai Duniya", tweeted, "According to my information only Covishield vaccine is sent to Gujarat. No risks taken with the privileged state." Another, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, a human rights defender, added,  it is creating the "impression that Gujarat is now a VIP state treated differently." 
Gujarati daily quotes state officials saying they are very happy 
And, in a report, the Gujarati daily "Sandesh" has pointed out how Government officials are "very happy" over the state having been offered Covishield, which they consider as "more reliable" than Covaxin. The report states, Covishield has been given to Gujarat even though the state leadership didn't demand it. It quotes Gujarat health commissioner Mukesh Pandya, who is handling distribution of the vaccine, as stating that it is "good" this vaccine has been given both for the first and the second dose. Interesting!!! 

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
People living in non-BJP states are also citizens of India as much as those in Gujarat are. Besides, if I am not mistaken, the vaccine exported is Covishield; so, people living in other countries are more important than those living in non-BJP states of India!

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