Bribery & Class Divide: Why Some Indians Receive Vaccinations Out Of Turn

Bribery & Class Divide: Why Some Indians Receive Vaccinations Out Of Turn
Lakhi Soni for Homegrown

It is no surprise that there exists a class divide in India –– the COVID-19 pandemic has only further proven that to us. Some of us are at more of an advantageous position to receive adequate healthcare than others –– those that are socially and economically backward, yet again, stand at a disadvantage as the country continues to fight for lives.

Funnily enough, climate change poses a great model for what is currently taking place in India with regards to COVID-19 vaccines. The phenomenon changes the course of class divide –– it widens it. The richest and most privileged remain in a safe position, while indigenous people and poorer groups remain exposed to danger.

Now, here’s how a similar, smaller-scale phenomenon is taking place in India –– the ones sitting in a well-cushioned position find themselves accessible to the vaccine while the others wait for it to even show up to their district. Tanmay Fadnavis, Devendra Fadnavis’s relative boasted about his second jab the day vaccinations for all adults were announced. It is no rocket science that his last name paved him a rosy path to getting the vaccine. This event is not exclusive, many people have been receiving vaccine doses in exchange for hefty amounts and acts.

In conversation with Live Mint, Dr Vikram Patel, professor of global health at Harvard Medical School said, “In a country famous not only for its astonishing levels of deprivation, as illustrated by the stubbornly high levels of malnutrition, coupled with one of the highest levels of inequality in the world, we should be doubly wary of the vaccine programme being hijacked by vested interests, a euphemism for the rich and well-connected.” Now, this not only holds true for individuals like Tanmay Fadnavis himself, but also those that performed similar acts.

Overall, the issue is not solely about people using bribery as a method to get themselves vaccinated –– it reveals and focuses on the class divide that exists among its people. The digital nature of registration through CoWIN gives way to a rather difficult path for those that do not have access to the internet. Quite obviously, then, the slots are filled up by urban residents in camps meant for those who reside in villages. Even if registration did not exist, the power held by the former in the form of money trumps the latter.

India is not new to bribery taking place in the highest place –– the world’s supposed largest vaccination drive is no exception. Bribery remains a byproduct of the pre-existing divide, and little is done to curb it. The ones who bribe do not stop giving, and the ones who are bribed do not stop taking. The eligibility criteria has reduced to nothing, as proven by the Fadnavis case, and those similar to it.

A lot of factors hinder the vaccination drive in India, and corruption is one of them. This corruption, however, does not exist solely in the system –– it exists in the people of this country, too. It is widespread in those with monetary power, rendering those with its lack in a state of helplessness.

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