Phobia that boosted Indian vaccination

Peculiar Indian behaviour and fears have helped the vaccination numbers to surge.

“Jaldi naha lo warna paani chala jayega!” (Take your bath quickly before the water stops coming from the tap!)

We got up with this typical morning chatter when I stayed in the then small city of Pune during my post-graduation days. But, you can relate to this line if you are from a small town in India or even the maximum city like Mumbai. You would agree how water is a scarce commodity here and the fear of the situation when you are in the shower if the water goes out. Little did we know that this inbuilt fear of falling short of water while taking a bath would save our country from the current pandemic.

We Indians cannot relate to our international counterparts in the USA, Europe, or even Australia. As the anti-vaccine protests catch fuel worldwide, what an average Indian cannot identify with is all the anti-vaxxer’s fuss? While here, we have been happily standing in queues for 3–4 hours or more and getting vaccinated with our trophy selfies. No wonder we Indians are regularly breaking records of over two crore vaccination per day to getting around 70% of our eligible population vaccinated with a single dose by now. It is no small achievement by itself with the people we have and the otherwise disorganized way things are in the country; the odds were always against us. I am not taking anything away from the front-line workers responsible for this milestone and more to come. Take a bow, all of you; you have saved our country from a catastrophe.

But there might be few other factors that also helped us get here. Well, but to understand why things are looking so great for us in the vaccination rate. We need to go back and understand how a typical Indian thinks and what they fear in growing up or even now. Besides front-line people and the infrastructure around the goal, some inbuilt Indian factors might have contributed to the quick acceptance of vaccination in the country:

1. Limited resources: We Indians are always swimming against the tide when it comes to having sufficient resources for ourselves. We are always trying to get to the race to get the necessities, whether food, water, or any other limited resource that is always falling short for an ever-increasing population. This situation makes us always trying to get in the line first, or we get left behind when our chance comes. May it is to catch your bus, train, or even your college admission line, we are always trying to beat the rush here.

2. Freemium works: We Indians love anything free. And we take it even if you don’t need it. So if the vaccination is free, we will happily accept the jab. Also, with the limited resources, fear will double-up for us here as we tend to hurry up when things are not to be paid. Because if it is free, it isn’t going to cover the whole population as the sheer size of people here makes it difficult to cater to the 100%, so we rush to the chance of getting things free, even if it is a jab or if you are lucky then two.

3. Herd mentality: We as a nation like to follow the herd in the majority. Sticking our neck out is most likely not in our comfort zone, and those who do for us, we ought to become followers of such brave souls. We typically want to follow the herd and not step out of it to be pulled out, even if don’t believe what people are saying we will still go along. So out of the box, thinking beyond what is observed can be a little thought for us.

4. Queues are good: We have been trained to queue up for things. We have stood in lines for our daily commute, filling water or even at the banks. We are accustomed to standing in line and wait for, and if there is a line and people are waiting, then the general assumption is things are worth it.

The longer the line, the better the product, is the consensus. We don’t get into much detail or ask questions if there is a queue for it.

5. Fear of losing out: The fear of losing out an opportunity makes us do weird things. It pushes us to do something that we don’t want to do it immediately. These things may not be what you want or would’ve thought about it if you need it or not. But you still would do it as you don’t want to lose out if it is good. You take the gamble. If it is terrible, you will take your chances as you wouldn’t want to lose it, as there are chances it is good. Typically seen during Indian weddings, you will have the majority filling out their plates with all possible food that it can hold. Who doesn’t want to have that Indianised Chinese fried rice even if it looks average and won’t go well with the dal makhani occupying a good portion of your food plate already?

6. Neighbours envy: “Padosi ke bete ke number tho jada nahi aa gaye” (Hope the neighbour’s son hasn’t scored more than you.) It is the usual competitive pressure of our parents that we grew up with during our in schooldays. So much so you end up in the competitive race with your neighbour or friends where you don’t get things that you want but do something that they are doing or getting may it be getting a new car or getting the house painted. You, with the sheer peer pressure, end up doing things that your peers are doing. But without constantly thinking about the pros and cons for you around it.

Ultimately these factors would’ve contributed to us getting the vaccination quickly, and if all goes well, we would be winning the war against the pandemic soon. These fear factors of the Indians has helped us in getting to this high vaccinated population number. The general thought the process of an average Indian would, by default, be competitive and be thinking about how to survive the scarcity of resources. And as you and I all know, this pandemic isn’t the first and won’t be the last. The fears have helped us get to this level, and the future beholds better things for us as we won’t be carefree because of our phobias. The odds might be all against us having a vast population, disorganized systems, or limited infrastructure to support, but the willpower and our Indians’ fears cannot be matched. So thanks to the fear engraved in us of water not coming from our taps, we will survive the pandemic!




Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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