India wins The Vaccine War!
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

India wins The Vaccine War!

October 4, 2023

Jaya Ho Bharat, Jaya Ho Narendra Modi

Last evening I spent 161 minutes watching the movie ‘The Vaccine War’ and returned home feeling terribly guilty as a journalist. I also felt like a minor hero because I never compromised as a journalist and sold myself for 30 pieces of silver.

The film is about India’s success in producing anti-COVID vaccine within a short period competing with other advanced countries. This despite efforts from other countries to sabotage the efforts of our scientists to find a vaccine and by a section of our journalistic fraternity, joining hands with foreign companies and crying hoarse, ‘We can’t, we can’t.’ The theme of the film was how the sinister ‘India can’t’ narrative was rewritten as ‘India can’.

However, the boss of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), played by Nana Patekar (delivering a sterling performance with a strong screen presence as dominant as that of a Dilip Kumar and an Amitabh Bachchan), inspired, motivated and even intimidated the scientists and defeated those naysayers who said ‘India can’t.’

These India baiters wanted the Government to import the vaccine discrediting the vaccine produced by our scientists as ‘substandard’ etc. But the clarion call of ICMR Chief to his team was ‘India can’. He wanted to tell the prophets of doom in our country and abroad that they were wrong. I observed that in the team of scientists there were more than 33 percent women! This was before our Parliament passed the Women’s Reservation Bill !! Did you get me Steve?

It may be recalled that the home-made Coronavirus vaccine ‘Covaxin’ was produced post-haste, under the most inspiring leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the National Institute of Virology (NIV) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Even though the film is more than two-and-a-half hours long and sans songs, fights and overcharged emotions, it holds the attention of the viewer throughout.

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The vaccine project was undertaken on a war-footing. Everything had to be done ‘immediately.’ There was no ‘afterwards’ or tomorrow. There was no room for Government red-tape nor time for family life.

I should admire the genius of the Film Director Vivek Agnihotri for delineating the story without scenes of disturbing human emotions of tears and fears in the face of the risk to life and family involved in the project to each scientist. The Director has shown all these human emotions in a touching way but in a subtle manner.

The film features Nana Patekar, Pallavi Joshi and our own Kannada ‘Kantara’ hit film’s heroine Sapthami Gowda with a cameo role. If Director Vivek Agnihotri presented to us the darker tragic side of our country in the film ‘The Kashmir Files’ here, in contrast, he is presenting the brighter, pleasant side of our country. This is a film to inform our people, specially who survived the COVID pandemic, about the life-saving work done by our scientists. The film recognises and honours the risk taken and the commitments made by those scientists and the medical persons during those dark days of the demonic COVID pandemic.

The film is based on the book ‘Going Viral’ by Prof. Balram Bhargava, Director General of ICMR. Nana Patekar has played the role of Prof. Balram Bhargava in the film. Interestingly, the film uses a few quotes from Vedas and Upanishads to create an Indian ethos, nay of the Sanatana Dharma. I learn the film is no box office hit. No matter. But those who say ‘India first’ or like the Englishmen who say ‘Right or wrong my country’ must go and see the film. I promise it is worth seeing because you will understand India and its people better and also what our people are capable of given the proper environment.

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May the truth prevail and naysayers fail.

Lateral thought: After seeing the film, a thought crossed my mind about all those who are science students and those working in  research institutions and organisations, including industries, where they have science laboratories. Those who are studying science subjects in colleges and working in organisations like CFTRI, DFRL, CSRTI, even Milk Dairy and such science-oriented institutions, must go and see this film so that they can inculcate the spirit of scientific temperament in pursuit of their profession as Scientists and also imbibe patriotic values as citizens of this country.

Like for example, sense of nationalism, national pride and above all placing the interest of our country above personal interest. This is what our scientists at National Institute of Virology, Indian Council of Medical Research and Bharat Biotech taught us when they won the vaccine war.

‘Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavantu’

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