In Chandigarh, Chhole Bhature free for those taking a Covid booster dose

Mr. Rana runs a food stall and sells “Chhole Bhature” on a bicycle.

Chandīgarh:

A vendor in Chandigarh, who last year drew praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is offering free Chhole Bhature people taking the precautionary dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the midst of slow absorption of the third vaccine.

Salesman, 45, Sanjay Rana, worries about the “complacency” that has set in among the public, and says few who are eligible for the booster shot show up to receive the shot.

A year ago, the street vendor distributed free Chhole Bhature to people who get vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of it on the same day had won praise from Prime Minister Modi on his monthly radio program “Mann Ki Baat”.

“Being able to savor the Sanjay Rana ji Chhole Bhature free, you will have to prove that you took the vaccine on the same day. It will give you taste Chhole Bhature as soon as you show him the vaccination message,” Prime Minister Modi said at the time.

Appreciating his efforts, the Prime Minister had said: “It is said that to work for the good of society requires a sense of service and duty. Our brother Sanjay proves that right.”

Mr. Rana runs a food stall and sells Chhole Bhature on a cycle. He says he has been running this stand for over 15 years.

He said his daughter Ridhhima and niece Riya gave him the idea last year to give away for free Chhole Bhature to those who fired.

Concerned about the slow take of the third shot, Mr Rana told PTI here: “I give the Chhole Bhature free for those who present proof of the precautionary dose on the same day”.

Mr Rana, who says he took the precautionary dose, is concerned that few people show up for the booster dose.

“All eligible should come forward and not hesitate. Already we are seeing an uptick in infections in many parts of the country. Why should we wait for the situation to spiral out of control? Lessons need to be learned from the type of situation that has prevailed in April-May 2021,” Mr. Rana said.

Mr Rana said that last year he offered free Chhole Bhature for more than seven months from May and he won’t mind giving it away for free this time for a few weeks.

“As a child, I had a great desire to serve the country and join the armed forces. But fate had something else in store for me. But now I want to do my part in another way, it gives me great satisfaction.” Mr. Rana said, wiping the sweat from his face on a hot, humid afternoon.

As Mr. Rana chats, a few people come back disappointed when he tells them everything Bhature he had brought for the day were sold.

Then take at least a few chholeone of them quips, but Rana opens the lid of another container and looking deep inside, says to him in a low voice, “Brother, this stock is out too.”

Mr Rana, from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, says his wife is a housewife and they have a daughter.

“It was a great honor for me when the prime minister mentioned my name in his Mann Ki Baat,” he said.

Mr Rana said he had studied up to class 10 and when his father passed away, family responsibilities fell on his shoulders as he had to care for three sisters and two brothers.

“Several years ago, I also worked in a private company here,” recalls Mr. Rana, whose dream is for his daughter to receive a good education.

India had started April 10 to administer precautionary doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all people over the age of 18.

On July 15, the Union Government launched a special 75-day campaign to administer free precautionary doses to all people aged 18 and over at government vaccination centres.

The “COVID Vaccination Amrit Mahotsava” campaign, aimed at boosting the uptake of Covid precautionary doses among the eligible population, is taking place as part of the government’s Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the independence of the ‘India.

An official source had recently said that only 7, 30, 96, 284 out of 68, 97, 62, 152 people eligible for the precautionary dose had taken it so far.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Christy J. Olson