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'Our vaccine policy is like temple darshan'

By SHOBHA WARRIER
May 12, 2021 09:54 IST
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'If you pay Rs 1,000, you get a special queue.'
'If you pay Rs 500, there will be another shorter queue.'
'There will be a separate queue for Rs 300.'
'Is this the way you give vaccine to the people?'

IMAGE: Indians in the 18-44 age-group queue to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, May 10, 2021. Photograph: Uday Veer Singh/ANI Photo
 

"When an entrepreneur dies, not just his family suffers, but the families of all the workers and employees also suffer."

The concluding part of Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com's interview with K E Raghunathan, entrepreneur and convenor, Consortium of Indian Associations.

IMAGE: An oxygen cylinder is loaded for a COVID-19 patient at a oxygen filling centre in New Delhi, May 9, 2021. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Compared to last year's first wave, how badly are the MSMEs affected by the second wave?

In this second wave, youngsters are getting affected and dying.

If anyone in my family is affected today, I spend my time standing in various queues; right from testing, to availing a medical bed, to buying Remdesivir, to buying an oxygen cylinder, to cremating the body too.

And black market is working in full swing across the country.

So, I am not able to concentrate on my business at all.

When an entrepreneur dies, not just his family suffers, but the families of all the workers and employees also suffer. The livelihood of all those families will get affected.

IMAGE: Family members and medical staff shift a COVID-19 patient to the Level-3 ward at the Swaroop Rani Nehru hospital in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, May 9, 2021. Photograph: PTI Photo

The government has announced vaccination for the age group of 18-44, and a majority of those in this age group are bread-winners of the family. But vaccines are available for them. How will this affect small businesses?

Most of the workers in any enterprise are between the age group of 18-40. They are the ones who need the vaccine the most as they are the most vulnerable now.

Last year, we shed tears when migrant workers walked thousands of kilometres in the hot sun.

This year, we are shedding more tears for our fellow Indians dying for want of hospital beds and oxygen.

What have we learnt from the past? What have we learnt from the present?

We have failed miserably in protecting the livelihood of people by not coming up with suitable short-term remedies.

Similarly, the RBI governor's announcement of additional loans will in no way alleviate the pains of the people.

Offering loan after loan is not the solution when I do not know how I repay it.

IMAGE: People in the 18-44 age group queue to get the COVID-19 vaccine at a government school, which has been turned into a COVID-19 centre, in New Delhi, May 10, 2021. Photograph: Rahul Singh/ANI Photo

The 18-44 age group are asked to pay for the vaccine...

Instead of giving vaccine free for all, the policy is similar to making the darshan available in some big temples.

If you pay Rs 1,000, you get a special queue.

If you pay Rs 500, there will be another shorter queue.

There will be a separate queue for Rs 300. And then, you have a dharma darshan too.

Is this the way you give vaccine to the people?

IMAGE: K E Raghunathan. Photograph: Kind courtesy K E Raghunathan

Some experts say that more than micro industries, the small and medium businesses will be the hard hit this time..

That is because many micro industries are wiped out last year itself. They don't exist now.

Obviously, the small and medium ones are hit the most now.

The bottom of the pyramid is reducing.

At the end of the day, only the corporates posting extremely high profits will exist. They will control the market, decide the price and even your consumption.

Sooner or later, there will only be five employers in India, and all the others including the government will be their employees.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

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