The Indian military has played a significant role in mitigating the effects of Covid’s second wave among the civilian population in cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Pune, Patiala and Jaisalmer and far-flung areas such as Ranikhet and Pithoragarh, where military-run Covid care centres for the general public have been set up or expanded during the past month. This was done to supplement the earlier decision of providing beds for Covid-affected civilians in military hospitals, in case these were available.
The question that now arises is whether the military-civilian cooperative model of Covid care centres should be extended to the next logical step. This step includes the setting up of mobile vaccination centres and the conduct of vaccination camps, especially in small towns and rural areas, thus filling the gaps in our vaccination plan and bolstering the country’s capacity for achieving ‘herd immunity through vaccination’ by the end of the year.
It is a fact that whenever there is a disaster in the country, the government and the people look to its military, the ‘last bastion’ as it is called, to step in and provide assistance to deal with the situation expeditiously. The fact that the military is mandated, as its ‘secondary role’, to assist Central and state agencies to deal with national emergencies like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, facilitates an early and effective response.