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Is The Indian Vaccine Drive Inclusive Enough, While It Is One Of The World’s Biggest?

While ‘others’ is a large umbrella term, it basically includes people, who do not identify themselves with male or female, and by and large, use a self-defined category for themselves.

While ‘others’ is a large umbrella term, it basically includes people, who do not identify themselves with male or female, and by and large, use a self-defined category for themselves.

Like every 18+ individual out there, even I am checking slots every day to make sure that I book my spot as early as possible. We all are striving to get vaccinated without being sure of which shot to take (Covaxin or Covishield). Many of us are perhaps digging into the readings, videos, interviews of the expertise to learn more and more about.

It is my right after all, to get vaccinated with full knowledge of what is it that is being injected inside my body. Could there be side effects? Am I safe from Coronavirus? Am I free to mingle and socialise? Can I be out again on the streets to earn my daily based wage earnings?

Now, those of us living in a networked world can find these answers in many ways.

Checking our privilege: does everyone have the resources?

But, what about the ones marginalised economically, intellectually and technologically?

The process of registering for the vaccination is not really complex but waiting and booking for the slots is clearly first come first basis. I speak from my own privileged positions, wherein if not today, maybe tomorrow I will be able to book my slot. And if there is a delay, maybe I am choosing to lay back, and giving myself more time to think and learn about it. Or maybe just preparing myself mentally. Not everyone is vaccine friendly.

I spoke to my friends, some have taken the first shot but some are also delaying consciously, because either they have COVID patients at home or are themselves scared of being exposed to the crowd (apparently, in the queues, if there are any).

Some of us are lucky enough to be inside safe spaces, isolate ourselves, wait for the cases to come down a bit, and maybe, try later. Some of us can also afford the paid ones at the private centres, which I have learnt is Rs. 900 for Covishield and Rs. 1250 for Covaxin. But of course, if it is the largest vaccine drive, the price difference between those given at Central Government and private centres is huge, though I believe that the vaccine must be free for all.

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What do we understand from our Govt’s vaccination drive?

When I went to register on cowin.gov.in, I did find the option ‘Other’ under the gender category, and I was relieved to see Government’s inclusivity approach, although when you scroll through the website, you see the scope of improvement or the natural inherent biases.

Let us begin with reading the poster. The largest image is of our beloved Prime Minister, taking the credit for initiating the largest vaccination drive with folded hands and a smiling face.

Seeing the image, I would say he is definitely not guilty tripping about the loss of lives or state institutionalised murder which he must take the credit for.

Many of these deaths could have been avoided if the state was prepared to handle the crisis. One may not have imagined such a hit in the second wave, but the current crisis situation have clearly demonstrated the lack of preparedness of the state and the interest. Their focus was on elections and pleasing Hindu community that they allowed the Kumbh Mela Gathering. 99 percent of this mela returnees had tested positive but our media also won’t make noise about it because it was not about Tablighi Jamaat.

Is the vaccination drive inclusive to all genders?

Go back up to the image. Left of the image, we see the vaccination dose in the hands of a nurse, next to heterosexual white faces of a young male and female, also sending the message out loud saying the vaccination drive has opened for people aged 18+.

Now, when you scroll down bottom further, there is data available, updated on everyday basis, but I am concerned to notice that the data is presented only for males and females.

Where is Other? Any particular reason we are not maintaining the data for ‘others’? Are we not vaccinating ‘others’? Are they being counted in the male or the female category? Or is it just me talking no sense?

Statistically, we do not have a clear idea of even an approximate number of others in India. While ‘others’ is a large umbrella term, it basically includes people, who do not identify themselves with male or female, and by and large, use a self-defined category for themselves. The data, henceforth, needs to be clear, and transparent unlike their budgets and blueprints on COVID rescue team.

Image source: a still from the film The Last Color

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About the Author

Twinkle Siwach

PhD Scholar at JNU, Delhi. Writing helps me to focus and clear thoughts. Womensweb is a feeling of belonging to a safe space. read more...

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