Wipro founder Azim Premji said the Narendra Modi government should allow the private sector to help to boost the vaccination rate and if done, it would ensure covering 500 million people within 60 days.
“Vaccines have been developed in record time. Now the key is to deploy and administer it in large proportions. The government is doing the best it can but I suggest that it supplement by involving the private parties,” Premji told Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The IT czar made this remark at an interaction at the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
“There is a possibility that we can get the Serum Institute to supply vaccine at about 300 per shot, and hospitals, private nursing homes can administer this at a cost of Rs 100 a shot. So, within Rs 400 a shot, it is possible to do mass vaccination of the population.
I think if the government were to engage the private industry quickly, we can be sure of achieving coverage of 500 million people within 60 days. That’s practicality. And I think it is very important that government considers this as a major supplementation to the effort,” Premji said.
Premji said a pandemic is a wake-up call to solve problems related to public systems like health.
On February 20, Premji had noted that the pandemic has had a very unequal impact on the disadvantaged who suffered exponentially more, therefore it was necessary to start on the path of philanthropy early.
“Start right away, even if you start small. Try to help build institutions and support programs. We must have a strong set of civil society institutions that we can contribute to. Your experience in business has eminently qualified you to build scale, this is an integral part of nation-building,” he said.
Premji donated Rs 7,904 crore in 2020 in the fight against COVID-19.
Premji is one of the richest men in India and is into philanthropy, an inspiration which he imbibed from his mother and Mahatma Gandhi’s views.
He spoke about how his mother Gulbanoo MH Hasham Premji, spent a lifetime helping a children’s orthopedic hospital despite facing a number of challenges. “All because she wanted to serve. Nothing fazed her, she was amazing. This is my core inspiration. This is what I saw while growing up and that really inspired me to look at philanthropy very seriously.
“And then there was Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of trusteeship of wealth that the wealthy must act as custodians of wealth for the benefit of society, and not as owners of wealth. That influenced me a great deal later,” he stated.
Premji plans to set up four more universities in the next 10 years.