This is my India. I love my India.

I was one of the lucky ones among the ‘age over 60 years’ category to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a private hospital on 01 March 2021 itself. I am grateful to our scientists, health workers for their race against time to deliver the vaccines to people. I am equally grateful to Government of India for making it accessible to us.

Two observations from the vaccination centre while I was waiting for my turn and then being under observation for 30-minutes after the injection are interesting for sharing here. Both of them relate to the group ‘age between 45 and 60 years with co-morbidities.’

In one case, family of someone in this category of ‘age between 45 and 60 years with co-morbidities’ did not want to be vaccinated by declaring the ‘co-morbidities’ because they feared that the health insurance premium would go up if they disclosed the existing diseases.

In the second case, someone in the ‘age between 45 and 60 years but without any co-morbidities’ used a false medical certificate declaring a co-morbidity to receive the vaccine.

I am not standing in any moral judgment for either of the cases because these cases did not surprise me as Javed Akhtar had penned in his hit song FIR BHI DIL HAI HINDUSTANI. Even the experiments conducted by Dan Ariely (James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University) in India and on Indian people and reported by him in “The Upside of Irrationality (Harper 2010)” and “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty (Harper 2013)” show that up to 6% of dishonesty is not even considered as dishonesty by us. I hope, not more than 6% of us fudge the truth about our medical conditions.

I am however anticipating something different. We being Indians are used to hiding our existing medical conditions for the fear of being social ostracized or being pitied at. However, some of us may now falsely declare to be having medical conditions to get the vaccine out of turn.

Will the post-vaccination data erroneously show that the citizens ‘aged between 45 and 60 years have unusually low or high incidence of co-morbidities’ in India or such aberrations will statistically cancel each other out?

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First published 02 March 2021

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Published by

Mukul Gupta

*Educator, researcher, author and a friendly contrarian* Professor@MDIGurgaon

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