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A derivatives game, folks – BusinessLine

The nation is in a tizzy to get vaccinated. Now, here is the situation that they taught us about — high demand and low, fractured supply. The situation, as per textbooks, leads to a price hike. The situation, as per life, has led to a tizzy. Imagine you are walking down the street (you can only imagine this in the current situation), when all of a sudden the house you are walking past emits whoops of joy, those shrieks of happiness and people running hither-thither. You can bet your life on this, one of those fellas in that house has got a confirmed booking slot.

Now, the entire country has only one major pre-occupation — how to book a slot on the CoWin app. Opening up the 18-44 age group when there are not enough jabs for the 45-plus is a master-stroke by the government to keep all the youth of the country firmly at home.

Well, you can’t go out even if you want to. Your eyes move away from the screen for just a second, and you have lost your booking. Imagine, just a month ago, mothers used to be screaming at youngsters in the house, “Beta, how much time are you spending on phone!” Today, the only thing they yell is, “Beta, back to the screen!”

The poor 20-year-olds are now to be found looking completely confused and bleary-eyed after having got their parents, friends of the parents, uncles and aunts booked on the app. After this thing is over, we will have an entire youth populace having permanently moved away from screens forever. Bye-bye, digital craze. Master stroke by the government again.

Interesting solutions

So, by now, the market has spawned some truly interesting solutions for the present ruckus. There are now websites on which you register yourself. The website will send you an alert when the booking slot at a location within your preferred pin-code opens up. This is a derivatives game, people!

The underlying commodity is the vaccine, for which the demand is greater than supply, but prices are rendered immobile due to government intervention. So we now have a layered product, wherein the websites that give out these alerts have created a market without government intervention for advertisement spaces! Advertisers, especially those connected to any ‘health’ product, are now falling over themselves to showcase their products on the websites which work the best. Obviously, there are a lot of start-ups creating slot-booking apps.

There are also multiple videos being posted on how to register yourself on CoWin, followed by how to register yourself on the app that will send you the slot booking notification. These videos are normally only played after those highly irritating, mandatory 25-second advertisements in which you are taught the many mercies of e-commerce websites, mediclaim, health insurance, turmeric milk, fortified atta and obviously those germ-killing cleaning agents that leave 0.01 per cent germs wriggling menacingly at you after the rest have been nuked. How do I know all this? Sigh!

Given that we are talking about a country that is literally obsessed with tuition classes, it is only a matter of time before we get a super-layered derivative, namely coaching classes, which will then teach entire populations about how to register themselves on an app that then gives them access to an alert. And then, of course, these coaching classes will have entrance exams wherein the aspirants will be checked for mental abilities, apart from which they will be put through a fastest finger first test. Lucky us! We will now have to enrol ourselves into the fastest finger classes, so that we can get entry into tuition classes, through which we will learn how to register on apps that then give us an alert about the slots getting opened up. Mind you, the alert is no guarantee of you getting the slot booked.

Once the alert comes in, you need to have three laptops and three mobiles running and frenzied activity on the aforementioned fastest finger first skill. It is a matter of nanoseconds, people! We are now competing with those superhumans whose finger dexterity stands at 38 clicks per second.

No wonder then, that the jab is such a festival. It is only a matter of time before those apps will start offering add-on alerts on mobility, fashion and photo-ops together with the slot booking alert service. Youngsters, bored to insanity through home confinement, are looking forward to the many dating opportunities that the two jabs will offer.

Some youngsters were even found suggesting that there should be five jabs to get completely and fully Covid-proof. It is after all, ‘jab’ we met!

The writer is a brave economist trying to laugh against the odds