22
Apr

Farmers Protest: Vaccine

   Posted by: aman   in Other, Punjab

Day 148

Toll 394

#FarmersProtest

Vaccine

Two nights back we mocked the PM’s speech for its emptiness but yesterday its intent was clear: Serum Institute of India (SII) has fixed the price of CoviShield vaccine at Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals and Rs 400 per jab for state governments.

From May 1st the vaccine will be available in the open market. Of course, initially there would be a stampede. It will continue as long as there is shortage just like oxygen, beds, medicines now in the midst of this spell. Last night we crossed 3 lakh cases, 2 thousand deaths.

Remember a few months back we adored the young SII CEO when we learnt of his short exchange with his father and decision to make a bid to produce the vaccine. End of the day, he is a businessman. He has to make money. Yet, there is something called ethics which here means vaccine access to all irrespective of economic status.

The question really is of responsibility: why are we not even asking the government why it is not footing the bill? Isn’t public health a matter of the state? Why is the Central government saddling state governments with expenses?

It is because we are so deep the neo-liberal rabbit hole that we do not even remember that our own early vaccines – small pox, polio, TB so on – were all free by the state. It is also because what is Rs 600 or even Rs 1,000 for a dose? We, the middle class, can shell it out. This ease makes us complacent to questions of ethics and responsibility.

This is what the farmers are raising for the last almost 5 months. Not in terms of health but in terms of the next takeover: food security and sovereignty.

Yesterday, huge numbers of farmers from south and north of Panjab reached the borders at Tikri and Singhu. Why are they up in arms against a state in the midst of a pandemic? Why are they taking such huge risks with their lives? I hope it is clear now – unlike earlier alleged – these farmers are not paid by opposition parties, or are just rich farmers, or anti-nationals and terrorists, and so on.

The smallest and the poorest farmers are showing us our dystopian future. They ask, like medicines this time, if the Farm Laws are implemented, what will happen to the Public Distribution System – free food to poor by the state?

If we still do not wake up, support the farmers, history will etch us as an ungrateful middle class who abandoned the poor in this nation.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2021 at 9:12 am and is filed under Other, Punjab. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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