Beedi worker from Kerala donates life savings for free Covid-19 vaccines
At a time when the Kerala government and Centre are involved in a blame game over who should spend money for COVID-19 vaccination, Keralites, in a display of solidarity, are donating their life savings to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) for vaccinating the helpless.
The fund was endorsed by Kerala Chief Minister Pinayari Vijayan as the 'Vaccine Challenge' after which the money started to pour in from all quarters, including people who are already vaccinated, and within days crores of rupees have been deposited by people opposing the pricing of vaccines for people above 18 years.
There are people like Janardhanan, a beedi worker, from Kannur who donated his entire savings of ₹two lakh to the CMDRF so that others could get free vaccines.
Speaking to ANI, Janardhanan, 63, said, "This COVID-19 pandemic is spreading everywhere and taking many lives. Why should I sit on my money when others need to get vaccinated? I heard that the government is going to charge for vaccination. So I decided to contribute so that those who do not have the money should get free vaccines."
Janardhanan's children -- Navana and Naveen -- who are BTech graduates, got to know about their father's effort through social media.
The effort of the good samaritan was known through the officials of Kannur District Co-operative Bank where he went to withdraw money.
"When he withdrew ₹2 lakh, only 850 was left in his account. We asked him repeatedly whether he really wants to transfer it to CMDRF. He told us he was a beedi worker and it's his life savings. But he was adamant and so we transferred," said the bank official.
The employees of the bank also tried to discourage him from transferring all his savings and suggested him to donate ₹one lakh. "But he was adamant to transfer money so that those who can't afford vaccination can be benefited," the bank official added.
His deed was also noticed by Chief Minister Vijayan, who tweeted, "Many heartwarming stories are coming up about donations to the CMDRF, including that of an elderly man who donated 2L from his savings bank account which had Rs. 200,850 in it. It is this love for one another that sets us apart. Once again, thank each and every one of you!"
The Centre on April 19 had announced a ''liberalised'' policy, making all above 18 years of age eligible to get vaccinated from May 1. It has also allowed state governments and private hospitals to purchase vaccines from manufacturers.
As per the central government, manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines will be free to supply 50 per cent doses to state governments and in the open market, for which they will have to make an advance declaration of the price before May 1.