K VijayRaghavan (Pic: Ashoka University)
K VijayRaghavan (Pic: Ashoka University)

Principal Scientific Adviser K VijayRaghavan: We are alive today because we got vaccinated

VijayRaghavan was speaking at Sangam 2020, the IIT Madras Alumni Association's annual flagship event, which was held virtually this time

The average life expectancy of an Indian was 31 years in 1947. Seventy years later, it shot up to 69.16 years. K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India, said that we owe it to the country's health system. Speaking at Sangam 2020 – Driving the New Normal’, the IIT Madras Alumni Association's annual flagship event, which was held virtually this time, he reminded people that "we are alive today because we got vaccinated."

"Our health system, though criticised, has an extraordinary reach through PHCs, disease surveillance programme and anganwadis. We also have a reporting structure that reports unusual diseases," he says, adding that people are well aware of what happens in the health sector. This, he believes is a force that will help the country eradicate COVID-19 through vaccinations.

"India has had an extraordinary history of successful vaccinations. These transformed our society and health systems," he says at a time when countries like the United Kingdom and Russia are about to start vaccinating its people for COVID-19. "At one point of time, we only administered vaccines and did not discuss its ramification. The elite dictated the others about the effectiveness of vaccines. However, today everyone discusses and debates everything as it should be," he says, admiring the scientific community for developing a vaccine in less than a year, while it usually takes a decade.

Addressing the event virtually, he asked the youngsters to derive life lessons from the year 2020. "The world seems quite different this year, but it has brought out a much more humane way of looking at our futures. It isn't just about making a living but also making a beneficial impact. India has an enormous responsibility here," he says. He also asked the students and alumni of IIT M to focus on effective product design. "Over several decades, IIT-M has made an impact all over the world because of the dominance of design. Design is the key and adds exportable value. No matter what your product is, focus on design," he adds.

VijayRaghavan also threw light on the Kisan Mitra platform which is under development. "Through this, a farmer gets information on every aspect that is necessary. The portal will get stronger and we'll soon hand over to the agriculture ministry," he says.