Stronger vaccination drive need to revive economy, create jobs: Nilekani

Though presently the challenge is more about the supply of vaccines, Nilekani said that in the next 6-9 months, India would become the “vaccine capital of the world.”
The acceleration of the vaccination efforts against Covid-19 at scale would help India to come out of the pandemic crisis faster and sooner revive the economy and create jobs, said Nandan Nilekani, founding architect of Aadhaar and co-founder of Infosys. 

He said this would require strong cooperation between the government and the private sector and it is a too big task for one person and organisation to accomplish.

“If you have to vaccinate at scale, we would have to vaccinate 5-10 million people per day, to make it happen,” said Nilekani at an event organised by Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI).

Though presently the challenge is more about the supply of vaccines, Nilekani said that in the next 6-9 months, India would become the “vaccine capital of the world.” Many vaccines are expected to be approved and manufactured in hundreds of millions of doses every month.

“And then the challenge will go from supply to how it can be done at scale,” said Nilekani.

He said there's a huge role for advocacy to create the right architecture for vaccinating millions of people. This includes leveraging the strengths of hospitals, doctors and nurses. There is also a critical role of digital technology which includes issuing digital vaccination certificates which are QR (quick-response) coded to everybody who gets vaccinated. This certificate can be kept on the phone, DigiLocker or one can take a printout. This can be shown by people once boarding a bus or visiting a restaurant to show that they are vaccinated.

The government is also betting on CoWIN (Covid-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network). The goal is to ensure last-mile delivery of Covid vaccine.

For reviving the economy and help small businesses to better, Nilekani also mentioned that the creation of the additional lending platform for the country would play an important role. For instance, ‘account aggregator’ programme, a way to empower people with their own data is being rolled out in the financial sector, under the guidance of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The aim is to make sure that individuals have access to their own data. The ‘aggregator infrastructure’ in India is based on the premise that every individual or every business can access their own data in real-time from whatever source they have.

“It allows companies to use the data from their business transactions and use that to get credit,” said Nilekani. “This is unlike (the) credit which is based on the asset but on your invoices and it is going to be hugely beneficial for small businesses.”

He said it is very important to work together to make sure that this policy is implemented and one is able to create a new cycle of credit for small businesses. This in turn would play a huge role in reviving the economy.

He said for making policy, one is required to create allies and coalition. Also, events play a huge role in making policies. Thus one needs to be prepared all times.

For instance, the Disaster Management Act, 2005, was a result of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, tsunami that hit the coasts of several countries of South and Southeast Asia in December 2004. The tsunami and its aftermath were responsible for immense destruction and loss on the rim of the Indian Ocean. This led to the formation of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) which and later the same Act was used to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also, the infrastructure of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), an attempt to change the mechanism of transferring subsidies launched by Government in 2013, was extremely handy during the covid crisis to transfer emergency money to the people.

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