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India Eyes Record Vaccination on PM Modi's Birthday, But Opposition Observes It as Unemployment Day

© REUTERS / ADNAN ABIDIPeople wait to receive a dose of COVISHIELD, a vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) manufactured by Serum Institute of India, at a hospital in Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, August 30, 2021
People wait to receive a dose of COVISHIELD, a vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) manufactured by Serum Institute of India, at a hospital in Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, August 30, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.09.2021
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A slugfest of sorts is playing out in India on the occasion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 71st birthday as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition vie to outdo each other. While the BJP is promoting Modi for his "visionary" leadership, the Congress Party holds him responsible for "policy failures" in the country.
India is eyeing to break its earlier record of over 10 million COVID-19 vaccines administered in a single day to mark the 71st birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
Leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been urged to promote the jabs, and state officials have been asked to double the daily rate. The party has set a target of 20 million doses and has trained 800,000 volunteers to achieve the objective.
A key opposition party, the Indian National Congress, has announced that the day will be observed as National Unemployment Day, with the Youth Congress wing of the party organising a series of programmes throughout the day to highlight the plight of unemployed people.
The Indian Youth Congress claims that the unemployment rate in the country has increased from 2.4 percent to 10.3 percent in just one year.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is set to light up the Bharat Mata temple in Kashi, in the constituency of Varanasi that Modi represents in parliament. Along with the lighting of lamps, the BJP will distribute 140 million ration bags with "Thank-you Modiji" printed on them.
Fifty million postcards with the PM's photo will be mailed from post offices across the nation too. The party is launching a 20-day mega campaign titled "Seva aur Samarpan Abhiyan" (Service and Dedication Campaign) that will feature various activities including blood donation camps, clean-up drives for rivers, and distribution of ration cards.
The Ministry of Culture is organising an e-auction of gifts and memoirs received by the PM. About 1,300 items, which include the javelin thrown by Olympic gold medalist Neeraj Chopra that he had presented to the PM, are up for grabs.
Chopra's javelin is expected to fetch over $136,085. The t-shirt worn by Avani Lakhera, the first woman from India to win a gold medal at the Paralympics, is also part of the auction along with Lovlina Borgohain's boxing gloves. The latter won a bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Twitter was flooded with supporters of the PM as well as comments by his adversaries on Friday as #HappyBdayModjiji is trending along with #NationalUnemploymentDay.
A national youth movement called Yuva Halla Bol is observing the day as "Jumla Diwas" with activities like banging utensils and clapping - a method PM Modi had popularised to keep citizens upbeat during the first lockdown last year. Members of the movement will organise awareness campaigns on how the Modi government has, purportedly, failed the country's youth.
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