Since June 15, social media is awash with photographs of a ventilator machine with “PM-cares” stamped on it, implying that the money donated to PMCARES fund was used to buy such ventilators – life saver of severe COVID-19 cases.
First, many noticed that the same picture was shared again and again from multiple sources, giving rise to the joke that in fact, the government procured a single ventilator. This was born #OneNationOneVentilator
Main-stream news outlets picked up the story, some casting doubts on the impartiality of the company which is set to audit the PMCARES fund.
Others on Twitter wondered what happened to the ventilators that the USA had promised to deliver free of cost and which was publicized as a diplomatic win for the Indian government.
Mr. Saket Gokhale, an ex-journalist and an activist, has produced an in-depth analysis of the numbers involved. He begins by identifying the model as a “Skanray” model. He then points out that “while the market price of the CV200 ventilator is 2.5 lakhs/piece, PM CARES is claiming to spend 2000 crores. Purchasing 50,000 CV 200 ventilators at market price would cost 1250 crores. Then where’s the remaining 750 crores going?”
Though the truth about financial embezzlement is being debated, it is true that many different initiatives were launched for the indigenous manufacture of ventilators. Skanray seems to have emerged as the preferred partner for the government. While the ventilators they produced is not fully indigenous, it still required hard work from a large team of engineers to make it work.
Twitter user @paimaamu posted this image with the message “My ex manager Mr.Arjun Rangaswamy (Rightmost) and Mr.Raghavendra (Leftmost) at Skanray Healthcare with a new ICU ventilator. Took them just 60 days from design to clinical trials at NIMHANS. Moreover, every prescribed design specs were met. These batches were funded by PM cares.” User @svstalin adds in comments ” Dr.Jagdeesh Hiramut, standing second from right also played a pivotal role.”
Indeed Dr.Jagdeesh Hiramut has done the hard work of liaising between the engineering and medical community, the manufacturers and end-users, ensuring that his dream of indigenous manufacture of ventilators came true.
The doctor was an angry man on June 15th. He felt betrayed by the fact that he and his team was not given an iota of credit for the hard work.
Indeed, the good patriotic doctor is right – credit was not given where it was due. We can only hope that PMCARES money indeed is buying correctly functional and fully tested ventilators, and not making the same mistake as Gujrat CM Rupani.
Meanwhile, a round of applause for Dr. Hiremath, and all healthcare and other professionals who are working day and night to alleviate the COVID crisis, is due.