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Govt Didn’t Do Anything Concrete in the Past Month: Omkar Goswami

“A responsible government must learn how to be transparent. This government doesn’t give any data.”

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Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam

Economist Omkar Goswami highlighted several shortcomings in the government's response to the second wave of COVID. Here are some excerpts of Goswami's interview with Sanjay Pugalia, The Quint's Editorial Director.

What is the biggest learning and challenge with COVID?

The only way to fight COVID is through vaccination, coupled with social distancing. As far as the latter is concerned, it is not easy to effectively implement in our country. Therefore, the only other thing necessary is vaccination of everyone above 18 years of age, and later, from 12 to 18. To vaccinate everyone above 18, India requires 1.98 billion doses to administer two shots per recipient. The government only kept speaking, but hasn’t done anything concrete in the past month.

By January 2021, two vaccine manufacturers were ready and received approval from Director General of Health. On 1 February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had set aside Rs 35,000 crore for vaccination. From 1 February till April 15, how many orders of vaccine were given by the government?

In a crisis of this proportion, a responsible government must learn how to be transparent. This government doesn’t give any data.

The government has made vaccine procurement decentralised. What is your take on that?

With Rs 35,000 crore, government could have bought 1 billion vaccine doses at the cost of Rs 350 per shot, including logistics costs. Then why didn’t the government do so? How many more people will die?

Are we working on any comprehensive plan to contain this or is it complete lawlessness?

Let’s look at a city that worked with discipline, Mumbai. Mumbai’s situation improved because Uddhav Thackeray had complete faith on Iqbal Singh Chahal and gave him full freedom to work. And look how Mumbai benefitted from this, in terms of facilities, oxygen and keeping things under control. There are many officers like Chahal. But officers in UP and Delhi were not given such responsibility.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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