Every government in the world are facing extreme difficulties in tackling ongoing pandemic challenges, while many nations are even struggling in getting sufficient volume of vaccine required for their people. Under such critical situation, when India is fighting the pandemic, TIME magazine has published a propaganda type content against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, clearly with naked bias in favor of the political opponents of the ruling Bharayita Janata Party (BJP). On May 28, 2021, TIME in its article titled ‘Modi never bought enough COVID-19 vaccines for India. Now the whole world is paying’ wrote: He [Indian External Affairs minister Subramanian Jaishankar] is making pious noises. Countries must look beyond their “national interests” for “global good,” he said at a Hoover Institution engagement.
Funny he should mention that, because it’s India’s vaccine nationalism—along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s empty showboating—that not only plunged India into an unexpected vaccine shortage, but also put countries banking on vaccines from India at great risk. Debasish Roy Chowdhury, a harsh critic of BJP, who also wrote a book titled ‘To kill a democracy: India’s passage to despotism’, taking undue advantage of current crucial situation in India has made outrageous attempt portraying Narendra Modi as a failed Prime Minister. He even made attempt of showing the recent US visit of Subramanian Jaishankar as a failed mission. Commenting on Jaishankar’s trip, Roy Chowdhury wrote: India has come a long way in a short time—from the swaggering Vaccine Guru boasting about saving the world, to desperately scouring the globe for vaccines. For the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer, it’s not easy to go hat-in-hand asking for vaccines, and India’s foreign minister, suave and well-spoken, is trying to keep it classy.
Criticizing Indian government’s decision of banning export of vaccines, Roy Chowdhury wrote: India has now blocked vaccine exports in order to prioritize vaccinating its own citizens—simply grabbing the vaccines meant for others. This is threatening to wreck the global COVAX program meant to ensure equitable vaccine distribution to help poor nations, creating the risk of a prolonged pandemic for the whole world. The vaccine crisis that stares at the world’s most vulnerable countries today is rooted in Modi’s mind-boggling reluctance to buy enough vaccines in time. As early as August 2020, Modi grandly declared that India had already worked out a vaccine distribution plan. Yet, he placed the first vaccine order as late as January 2021. And, even then, bought little. The result: by the time the second wave hit India with full intensity in April, just 0.5% of Indians had been fully vaccinated.
The figure currently stands at a measly 3.1%. No national leader has talked so much about vaccines and done so little about it, and Indians are not the only ones paying the price for it. Serum Institute of India, maker of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine that accounts for 90% of Indian COVID-19 doses, was slotted to supply half of the 2 billion vaccines for COVAX this year. But it has stopped shipments since March and says it can’t restart supplies until the end of the year. Facing pressure for vaccines at home and abroad, owner and CEO Adar Poonawalla has fled to London. With Serum Institutes’s global supplies on hold, uncertainty looms for 92 low-income and lower-middle-income countries that were depending on COVAX. Even if they find new suppliers, it will be months before the vaccines materialize. Serum Institutes’s cop-out means COVAX will be short of 190 million doses by the end of June, while nearly a dozen countries, many of them in Africa, have yet to get a single dose. In India’s immediate neighborhood, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka are running dangerously low on vaccines. Nepal is facing a double whammy of disastrous infection rates and depleting vaccine stocks. From just 152 cases on April 1, it’s now clocking more than 8,000 cases a day, straining its feeble healthcare infrastructure. It had bought 2 million doses from Serum Institute, But the company stopped supplies after delivering the first 1 million doses as demand in India rose. It’s the same story for many other countries. It is true that Serum Institute has failed to supply the contracted volume of vaccines to Bangladesh despite the fact of receiving the full amount in advance. It is also true that Adar Poonawalla fled India for Britain, and due to his breach of business commitment, Bangladesh had to look for alternative source in China and Russia.
By now, Bangladesh has successfully inked agreement with China for buying vaccine and according to our foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, the first consignment of vaccines will arrive next month. But TIME magazine has played the vaccine card in defaming Narendra Modi and generate political chaos in India, when the nation already is suffering from alarming spread of COVID infections and the health hazards posed by Black Fungus. The writer of the TIME magazine article, Debasish Roy Chowdhury clearly is politically biased towards political rivals of BJP and Narendra Modi, and his book ‘To kill a democracy: India’s passage to despotism’ is actually written with the nefarious agenda of creating despotism in India. In plain words – this is a deep-rooted conspiracy against BJP and Modi, which possibly may find places in other publications and broadcast networks in the western countries as well as foes on India. Prestigious publication TIME magazine has put a disclaimer at the bottom of Debasish Roy Chowdhury’s article stating, “TIME Ideas hosts the world’s leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors”, generating scope of doubt of whether this has been a sponsored or paid propaganda content. By publishing a disclaimer, TIME has clearly indicated the content to be not a part of editorial views of the magazine, Meaning, someone is spending cash in defaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party, possibly with some evil political agenda.
(This article was originally published in Blitz Weekly)