Published: 07th June 2021
Micromanagement of vaccine administration by the centre is not called for: Former Home Secretary Madhav Godbole
He was in conversation with author and senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai, as part of The New Indian Express' COVID Think Tank on e-expressions
Criticising the union government for mismanaging the COVID-19 pandemic and the health crisis in India, former Union Home Secretary Madhav Godbole says that the centre's immediate goal has to be to vaccinate people mandatorily. He also said that the centre shouldn't micromanage the vaccination administration. He was in conversation with Author and Senior Journalist Kaveree Bamzai, as part of The New Indian Express' COVID Think Tank. The pre-recorded session was aired on June 7.
Godbole added that the Government of India must immediately take up the responsibility of procuring vaccines and should provide them free of cost. "Vaccines must be made available free. In terms of the cost-benefit analysis, this is a much cheaper option," he said. Looking back at a time when India administered polio and smallpox vaccines successfully and eradicated the viruses, he said that the same could have been possible with COVID too, had the centre not 'micromanaged' the vaccine administration. "We did excellent work with vaccines. It was all done right up to village level in a very systematic manner. Therefore micromanagement by the centre is not called for. Leave it to the states. They know how their system works and the Government of India trying to manage everything from Delhi is not right," he said.
Pointing at the flaws of the centre's vaccination policy, he said that it is up to the centre and not the states to decide whether to domestically produce or import vaccines. "I don't know why the centre is not inclined to do that and linking it to states," he said, reiterating, "Vaccination must be made compulsory. This is something that is related to saving lakhs of lives."
The former IAS officer said that the last couple of months were an 'unmitigated blunder' in the country."What went wrong was from the first announcement of a national lockdown. The biggest fault was, it was done without consultation of the states. We are a federal union of states. There are some disciplines that have to be observed both by the centre and the states in dealing with it, which was not done," he said.
At the same time, he added that even though health is not a state subject, the centre's viewpoint comes into play because of the pandemic situation. "Therefore states expect the centre to take certain initiatives. So in the common man's perception, everything linked to COVID management is linked to the centre. It is only partly so," he said. He added that there was also a deliberate attempt to hide the data related to COVID.
Another flaw that he pointed out was the spread of misinformation about vaccinations and a lack of communication from the government. He reiterated that the parliament sessions weren't being held and no parliamentary committees were convened. "Which world are we living in? These discussions could have been held in legitimate forums. There has been no national press conference in the last few months. In situations like this, it must be the Prime Minister who should hold press conferences," Godbole said.