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Modi Photo on Vaccine Certificate Spreads 'Awareness on COVID-Appropriate Behaviour,' Says Govt

Though the PM is shown without a mask, and masks are considered necessary even for the vaccinated, the MoS for Health said the certificate aims at ensuring "critical messages are disseminated to people in the most effective manner."

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New Delhi: The Union government has defended its decision to include Narendra Modi’s photographs on vaccination certificates by saying that the prime minister’s image, along with his words, help create awareness on COVID-19-appropriate behaviour.

Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha that the formats of COVID-19 vaccination certificates being issued from CoWIN are “standardised and conform to the evolving WHO guidance on verifiable inoculation certificates.”

Pawar was responding to a question on whether it is necessary and compulsory to print photographs of the prime minister on the COVID-19 vaccination certificate.

As The Wire has analysed, India is perhaps the only country so far whose leader is using vaccination certificates to “promote his own politics and cult of personality”. But the Modi government is having none of that. “Given the context of the pandemic, its evolving nature and the fact that following of Covid-appropriate behaviours has emerged as one of the most critical measures for preventing the spread of disease,” Pawar said.

Also read: Modi Only World Leader to Use COVID Vaccination Certificate to Push Cult of Personality

“The photograph along with the message of the prime minister in the vaccination certificates reinforces the message for creating awareness about the importance of following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour even after vaccination, in the larger public interest,” Pawar said.

Pawar said that it is the “moral and ethical responsibility” of the government to ensure that such “critical messages are disseminated to people in the most effective manner.”

What he did not explain is how the photograph of a maskless Modi will help reinforce the message that even the vaccinated need to follow the guideline of wearing a mask in the public.

“The format of vaccination certificate, compliant with WHO norms for vaccination certificates, including the message and presentation about the importance of following Covid-appropriate behaviour even after vaccination, has been decided keeping all these factors in consideration.”

“All states and Union Territories are using CoWIN application for COVID-19 vaccination and vaccination certificates are generated through CoWIN in a standard format,” the minister said.

Before the West Bengal assembly election, the Election Commission had sought the health ministry’s response on the “factual position” on the use of Modi’s photo on vaccination certificates, days after the Trinamool Congress had registered a complaint saying it violated the model code of conduct.