How India Braved Covid ‘Viral Storm’; Book Reveals PM’s Belief in CoWIN, A Call to A Retired IAS Officer


Last Updated: January 08, 2023, 09:53 IST

PM Narendra Modi wore the Assamese gamosa while receiving the first dose of the Covid vaccine. (Image: News18)

PM Narendra Modi wore the Assamese gamosa whereas receiving the primary dose of the Covid vaccine. (Image: News18)

Retired IAS officer RS Sharma was recalled from retirement few days earlier than the vaccination drive began. He informed PM Modi in regards to the platform not being totally prepared. Sharma anticipated the PM to be sad however he informed him to make sure the digital platform was totally scaled by the point second dose was administered

Retired IAS officer Ram Sewak Sharma was enjoyable at his ancestral village in Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh when he obtained a name from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 7, 2021.

The PM talked about his earlier dialog with Sharma from May 30, 2020 relating to the roll-out of a expertise for easy working of Covid-19 vaccination in India, and promptly recalled Sharma to Delhi to be a part of the group that launched the CoWIN platform. CoWIN proved to be the spine of India 2-billion plus vaccine dose programme.

These particulars have been revealed based mostly on an interview with Sharma in the upcoming e book, ‘Braving a Viral Storm, India’s Covid-19 Vaccine Story’ by Aashish Chandorkar and Suraj Sudhir, revealed by Rupa Publications and slated to be unveiled by the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya subsequent week. This exhibits that PM Modi had envisioned CoWIN as early as May 2020.

The former chief of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which had launched Aadhaar, Sharma was the Chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) when the PM met him on May 30, 2020. “At this stage, there were no vaccines and no plan for a national vaccination drive. But the government was cognizant of challenges that a nationwide vaccination drive would face in execution. There was also a keen belief that use of technology could potentially help…” the e book mentions.

Sharma’s Presentation

Sharma made a presentation to the PM on the May 30 assembly, stressing the Aadhaar-linked file of vaccination. What the federal government wished additionally was a citizen-facing platform. The authorities repurposed its eVIN platform and examined it in greater than 700 districts earlier than the launch of CoWIN. The e book mentions sensing that the technological spine would want extra robustness, PM determined to revive the group that had delivered Aadhaar and introduced RS Sharma on board.

“The PM raised issues like the international recognition of certificates and emphasised that India had to be prepared in the best possible manner to ensure that proof of vaccination would not be questioned,” the authors say.

PM made the decision to Sharma on January 7, 2021, and by that point, he had retired. Within days, Sharma was appointed head of the empowered group of expertise and information administration, member of NEGVAC administration and in addition the CEO of the National Health Authority (NHA).

The Challenges

Hitting the bottom working, Sharma received on the job, however on January 14, 2021 — two days earlier than India’s vaccination drive began — Sharma met the PM with a foul information that the platform was not totally useful but. The authors say Sharma was anticipating the PM to be sad however he instructed Sharma to make sure the digital platform was totally scaled by the point the second dose was administered to well being and frontline employees, giving him therefore a month.

Sharma’s five-member group labored on CoWIN they usually put classes from the Aadhaar platform growth to good use for constructing robustness of the back-end, the e book says. “The power of Digital India was proven when it was most required. CoWIN handled the volume of 25 million doses in 24 hours on September 17, 2021 without any glitches. By the end of 2021, India administered 145 crore doses. Each of them was recorded on CoWIN,” the e book mentions.

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