Pravin Joshi: Ever since the second wave of Covid-19 created havoc in the country, claimed thousands of precious lives, prime minister Narendra Modi is back to basics. In his Mann Ki Baat, he urged countrymen to shed hesitancy and take both the doses of vaccine. Mentioning complete vaccination of his old mother, Modi said that people must trust science and scientists in the war against Covid-19. His admiration for doctors in his monthly address must have soothed nerves of medical practitioners who were agitated by jibes Baba Ram Dev – known to be close to PM Modi.
Ram Dev, in a bid to promote his Ayurvedic medicine Coronil, had challenged the allopathic medical stream and discounted the sacrifices of doctors in their fight against the deadly pandemic.
The prime minister Modi, who is said to have lost popularity after the widespread deaths in the country post the second wave, seems to be regaining grounds. The Covid situation in the country is improving. The country is on its way to unlock. But the possibility of the third wave is putting brakes on the speed of reopening of economy. Once bitten twice shy, Modi is not likely to take the threat easy and would take every measure to nip the bud.
The accelerated vaccine drive is one such measure. Since June 21, the country is administering more than half a million doses every day. The pace is likely to pick up as states are now linking relaxations in Covid curbs with the rate of vaccination. Establishments and business units having more vaccinated staff are allowed more working hours. This will encourage and sometimes force establishments to motivate and coax their employees for vaccination.
Experts believe that if the country succeeds in containing the third wave, the growth will start picking in the third quarter. The GDP may end up with a growth of 9.5%. But of reverse happens then the delta plus variant of the virus will have devastating effect on lives and economy. Those who will survive virus attack, will have to struggle even to make both ends meet.
The centre and states, however will have to decide on opening higher education institutions fast. Almost one and a half years of lockdown has rusted the talent, especially those who have enrolled in professional and technical courses. The study of such courses can be conducted online. The on ground rich experience and field trainings enhance the proficiency of students. Governments will have to take calculated risk in allowing professional colleges to resume classes albeit with all precautions. Otherwise, the country is set to starve for right set of talent in coming years.
(The writer is a social communication expert and political analyst)