On this 72nd Republic Day, India deserves a moment to pat its own back and say – well done!
There was a time when Winston Churchill had remarked about us in a very uncharitable manner. After more than 3 million people died in Bengal famine in 1943, Churchill had said: “They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”
It is hard to imagine that from such lows, we, as a country, have come to a point, where we are in a position to manufacture and supply vaccines to the same country, whose prime minister once was none else than the same haughty colonial man called Winston Churchill.
We have gone through tremendous difficulties and seen it all, done it all. From the pits of poverty, riots, illiteracy and extreme misery, we have reached a point where we can take pride in our achievements and say – despite so many Winston Churchills all around, we have not only managed to survive, we have also grown from strength to strength.
From the very beginning, there has been no dearth of doomsday predictions about India’s fate. However, the country has defied all those prophets of doom and met most of the challenges well.
At a time when even the Western countries are finding it difficult to cope with one of the most dire pandemics the world has ever seen, India is not only standing firm on its feet, but is also shining with perseverance.
Think of it. The entire West is still in the throes of pandemic. The number of worldwide coronavirus infection cases has crossed 99 millions and will soon cross the mark of 100 millions. The humanity has lost more than 21,27,000 lives.
Even when the entire world is struggling against the virus, India has done remarkably well in not only containing it, but also in fighting it proactively. It has already started the first phase of vaccinations and would very soon also launch the second phase.
Not very long ago, there were people who were forecasting a mammoth humanitarian disaster for India. They were seeing a big crisis looming over India as in their opinion India was neither as efficient as China nor as resourceful as the West.
We were told that we were waiting for a big catastrophe to unfold in our land.
However, the latest situation tells quite a different story.
In the West coronavirus is still raging with ferocity. On January 23 UK lost 1348 lives to corona, a day before it lost 1401 lives and two days back on January 21 it lost 1290 lives. For India, the figures are 155, 154 and 161 for the same days.
Many countries, including China and Japan, have several cities under strict lockdowns. USA too is grappling with more or less a similar situation.
However, in India, things have already started looking up. The country has already launched one of the biggest vaccination programs and 1.4 million people, mostly health workers, have already been vaccinated. The country is on a path to vaccinate more than 300 million people in the next 5 to 6 months.
2 lakh personnel have already been trained and deployed as vaccinators, while a team of 3 lakh personnel has been put in place for the entire process. 29,000 cold storage facilities have already been made available.
Not only this, India is also playing a leader’s role in its neighbourhood and beyond. We have already sent free vaccination doses to Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Seychelles, Mauritius, while preparations are on to fulfil commercial orders received from Brazil and Morocco. Even UK and Belgium are showing interest in India’s indigenous vaccine Covishield.
Let this sink in – Bangladesh has refused to bite the vaccine bait from China and has chosen to place orders with India. While India has also sent it a large consignment of vaccines as a gift, Bangladesh is also in the process of procuring rest of its requirements from India on commercial basis.
Don’t be surprised if in the coming days Pakistan too chooses to buy vaccine from India, instead of that from China.
Factoring everything, we can proudly say we have not fared very badly on any front.
Our democracy is alive and kicking too.
In which other country can a large number of farmers dare to take out a tractor rally in the national capital on a Republic Day without any worry of the government using any force?
In which other country can Ramchandra Guhas and Arundhati Roys write big op-ed pieces against the Prime Minister in the top newspapers and yet roam around in cushy cars and lead a comfortable life in upmarket apartments churning out nothing but one sided verbal froth against a sitting Prime Minister or the majority community?
We do deserve some accolades on this 72nd Republic Day. After all, we have not done too badly all these years.
The future would only be better than this.