VACCINATION-MORALITY-RESPECT BY PINAKPANI BHARADWAJ

BY PINAKPANI BHARADWAJ

ARECENT verdict of the honourable Kerala High Court has drawn the attention of social media. A person approached the court questioning why should there be a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Covid-19 certificates? According to him such an act is a disgrace to the individual’s self-esteem, as he is forced to keep the picture of the PM with him as proof of vaccination. He further alleged that it was a form of political propaganda and therefore immoral.

The court not only dismissed the complaint but also imposed a fine of Rs1 lakh on the petitioner. The verdict said that anybody could have a disagreement with the PM or his party but the PM is beyond party identity and every citizen must respect the PM. 
The court did not consider this application to be a reflection of public interest. In addition the court found the litigation as a ploy to waste the precious time of the High Court in an absurd case, therefore dismissing the case, as well as slapping a fine on the petitioner.
The court order is supreme. The tendency to make trivial matters in the name of public interest is very important, as, in this country, invaluable court time is wasted on petty public interest litigation cases, which further aggravate the arrears of litigation, detrimental to the judiciary and society. 
This is despite the fact that the government had fared poorly in its battle against the second wave of Covid-19. When there was a nationwide cry for hospital beds and oxygen, corpses started floating in the Ganges and the government remained a mere spectator. It even denied its responsibility in many cases. This is what should happen if those who are aiming at publicity avoid the responsibility of management by concentrating on advertising? The second wave of Covid is a scandalous chapter in the history of India.
In other cases too, the report card of the government is not a source of pride. The ability to deal with disasters, even a lack of will, was evident in February-March when experts repeatedly warned the government of the possibility of a second wave. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister, however, were focused on winning the West Bengal Assembly at that time. At a time when there was a need to control the movement of the masses, the country was flooded with millions of people. 
And leaders have hardly learnt any lessons from the past. For instance, while the threat of the ultra-contagious variant waiting to devastate us as the third wave, there are no signs of a retreat from the path of failure of the last two years. Even now, the Prime Minister is holding regular public meetings for the Uttar Pradesh polls in the presence of several lakh people -- about which the court had to issue a warning!
The situation has not changed much in the country as half of its citizens are still not fully vaccinated and are unsafe. When this government prematurely celebrated 100 crore vaccinations on October 21, 2021 with great pomp, it was not a moment to rejoice. The government was found completely inadequate in addressing some important issues like shortage of vaccines in various states, vaccination of people below 18 years of age, and how citizens without smartphones could obtain certificates. Regrettably, not all these stories are coming out in the light of the Prime Minister's smiling face. 
Furthermore, in other countries, vaccination started several months in advance, but in India nobody knows why the entitlement was kept at 18 years in the beginning, and now brought down to only fifteen? Meanwhile, the Goa government has flatly refused to enforce night restrictions, suggesting that for the government making money is more important than saving a life.
Also, why isn't the Covid test extended to find Omicron? In the first two waves, migrant workers lost their jobs, small and medium-sized businesses sank, and countless civilians lost their lives. Even after this, the government is more active in garnering “votes” and trying to drown the future of the country in the party’s “welfare.”
All these failures take us to the relevant question raised at the beginning of this article. First of all, even if it is not illegal to print the picture of the Prime Minister on Covid-19 certificates, certificate, is it reasonable? Decent? People are vaccinated in other countries as well, where vaccines are being provided almost free of cost, and even then they have not added the head of state’s face on certificates! What is the primary work of a government? Why should it claim credit with a picture of the prime minister?
These questions are particularly important because the impression of a propaganda-oriented mentality is very evident in the behaviour of this government and party. In the last seven-and-a-half years, they have created an unprecedented tradition of hyping mass promotional rhetoric even for a negligible work! Associated with it is the trend of glorifying the party and party leaders in all matters by unknowingly erasing the boundaries of the government and the party.
An honorable justice reminded us that a prime minister should be respected. However, cannot citizens expect respectful behaviour from their statesmen? One can hardly demand respect, it is to be achieved by one's conduct. While delivering the verdict, the judge also recalled the history of how Prime Minister Nehru respected the opposition. It is doubtful if Jawarharlal Nehru could even have dreamed of printing his picture on certificates let alone Covid-19 certificates. Our present prime minister has to learn a lot from the life and times of Nehru! 
(Mr Bharadwaj is a responsible citizen, ppb1958@gmail.com)

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