Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launching the country's Covid vaccination drive today, gave a shout-out to frontline workers and appeared emotional as he spoke about those who risked their lives to save lives.
Looking back at the difficult times when the coronavirus pandemic first burst upon an unprepared world, PM Modi choked up as he spoke about people who could not perform the last rites of their loved ones, those who were separated from their families and the elderly who died in isolation.
"Today when we take a look at the last year, we realise that we have learnt a lot as individuals, family and nation. I want to remember those days when the disease kept people away from their families. Mothers wept for their children but couldn't hold them. Old fathers fought the disease alone in hospitals, their children could not help them. We could perform rituals for those who died due to corona," said the PM.
"It makes me extremely sad".
Appearing to fight tears, the prime minister then referred to sacrifices made by healthcare and frontline workers, hundreds of whom lost their lives.
"In times of that crisis and atmosphere of despair, some were giving us hope. They were putting themselves at risk to save us - doctors, nurses, paramedics, ambulance drivers, sanitation workers, police and other frontline workers - they prioritised their duty to humanity. They stayed away from their families and children, they stayed away from home for days... Hundreds never returned home."
They sacrificed their lives to save lives, the PM said. "So today, by vaccinating healthcare workers first, society is paying their debt."
Around three crore health workers will be inoculated in the first phase of the vaccination campaign, one of the world's largest.