Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram termed centralisation as the biggest challenge to democracy and raised concerns on vaccine nationalism while addressing a seminar on 'Global pandemic and challenges before democracy in the country' organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in the Rajasthan Assembly on Friday.
Also not even one foreign vaccine manufacturer applied for a licence to market its vaccines in India in 2020 and early 2021.
It was not only India which suffered from vaccine nationalism but the sentiment also affected many European countries too.
The India-made vaccine Covaxin has not yet been approved in any European country, which yet again is an example of vaccine nationalism, he added.
Going further he said, "There are many rich nations which have bought and hoarded the vaccines in large stock which has affected the vaccination across the globe. There are many countries like the US, UK, Japan etc which have bought huge stock of vaccines to inoculate its population twice or thrice, but at the same time, there are countries like Bhutan which did not get vaccines to inoculate its population. This is torture," he said adding how can poor countries fight against this pandemic without the only weapon available.
The pandemic can be contained with universal vaccination, said Chidambaram.
He termed centralisation as the biggest challenge to democracy and quoted the example of delay in vaccination in the country to elaborate his point. The vaccines were ordered late, payment was made late and orders for foreign vaccines were also delayed, courtesy centralisation, he added.
He said the next challenge was the crisis of resources and following it was an issue of increase in the divide between the rich and the poor. Online education came up but what about those who have no resources for online education, he asked.
Chidambaram said, "We need to search out answers for many questions which have cropped up during this pandemic; what should we say, how should we understand and do, did our government get success in preserving rights of poor and deprived and others; we may contradict each other's statement but we will have to find answers to such questions."
He said that no one knows when this pandemic will end or will it end at all. However the question is why did the topic of challenges to democracy come up during the pandemic. Each government should be worried about this subject.
Assembly speaker CP Joshi said crores of people fell below the poverty line during this pandemic.
Leader of Opposition Gulabchand Kataria said, "India sailed through successfully but the second phase did give a challenging time to all."
He praised the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clamp a lockdown on time.