Before the Union Budget on February 1, I hoped that Nirmala Sitharaman would announce free and universal vaccination. I was wrong. Instead she allocated Rs.35,000 crore as Support for COVID-19 Vaccination, with a promise to allocate more if needed.
That “if” is here now.
As miserable as a place Twitter is now given the desperate SOS calls for basic medical supplies, it does give some idea on how certain sections of the population are thinking. “Health is a state subject”, “We are a poor country, we cannot afford free vaccination” etc. are some of the most popular statements. Let me break this to you. INDIA CAN AFFORD FREE AND UNIVERSAL VACCINATION.
Consider this. Last year, when the strict lock-downs dried up government revenues, India went ahead and borrowed more. From an estimated Rs.8 lakh crore before the pandemic, we ended up borrowing nearly Rs.19 lakh crore to fund our expenses. The cost of vaccines for every adult in India at Rs.400 per dose? Only Rs.77,600 crores. Split 60:40 between union and states, the outgo will only be Rs.46,500 from the center’s kitty.