The technological complexities of Covid vaccine registration in India astounded filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan. He believes the chaos is denying many unprivileged people access to life-saving medicine, calling the procedure “cumbersome.”
“There’s no way of knowing when the slots open. I tried to do it for my help, my driver and their spouses. But there’s too much chaos right now. I can do it because I have a laptop and fast internet,” Ghaywan shares, adding that the entire process — registration, OTP, captcha verification — is unfair, especially for people who aren’t so well-versed technologically.
Adding to the hassle is slots vanishing in “split seconds”, he points out, saying, “You see 300 slots and then by the time you get an OTP, they’re gone. By chance, if any slot is available, it will ask for a captcha. Now, a poor person won’t even understand what is a captcha, which itself is very complicated. In Mumbai, people who have access to (the right technology) are getting the vaccine.”
Moved by this injustice, the Masaan (2013) director questions about the safety of the rest of the population. “If I weren’t helping my staff, where would they go? What do they do? That really bothers me and I feel ashamed of my privilege,” he admits, ruing the absence of any tutorial to help people walk through the process.
“It’s just ridiculous. I can’t believe that this kind of technology and improper planning is for a life-saving drug. I understand there’s a vaccine scarcity, which is a bigger problem, but people are also being denied the same because of the complications of the system,” he said.