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In an address to the nation last evening broadcast over radio and television, Prime Minister NarendraModi sounded a high alert against the Corona pandemic. He appealed each and every citizen to not be complacent, or remain in a state of denial. He underlined that the deadly and devastating disease, which is wreaking havoc almost in the entire world, has touched the Indian shores and no longer remains something we can ignore. He said that in the last two months 1.3 billion Indians have fought resolutely against Corona by taking necessary precautions. Yet, he cautioned that no one should be under any delusion about the relatively small number of people infected so far in India and feel that worst has passed by.
Prime Minister Modi said, data from the worst affected countries show how numbers skyrocketed after initial phase. So, India cannot afford to drop guards and each and every citizen needs to remain alert. Countries which took prompt and early action in isolating people did better in containing the spread of this deadly disease. He assured the nation that the government both at the centre and states are keeping a close track on the unfolding conditions, and are geared up fully to meet the challenges. However, the Prime Minister said alongside the governmental efforts, 130 crore citizens have to show grit and resilience to fight this pandemic. At this hour of unprecedented crisis when there is no medicine available for the deadly virus, Resolve and Restraint are the two key factors to combat the scourge. Every citizen needs to resolve that they would keep themselves healthy, not get infected nor would infect others. This can be achieved by restraining oneself from moving around and practicing social isolation. He appealed that the entire country should observe a ‘Janta curfew’, that is people supported curfew on Sunday, the 22nd March, from 7 am to 9 pm – where people should voluntarily not step outside the confines of their homes and refrain from all social activities.
In the last few weeks both Central and State Governments have taken a slew of measures to contain the spread of COVID 19 in the country and keep the citizens safe. This include both domestic and international travel restrictions, closure of educational institutions, adoption of ‘work from home’ as far as possible both in private and government establishments, temporary closure of Shopping Malls, Cinema Halls, large eateries, restriction on movement of children and elderly etc to minimize outdoor activities, human congregation and physical movement of people barring those responsible for the essential services.
Since India is on the cusp of entering the most critical third phase of the COVID 19 cycle, where it spreads like wild fire through community contacts, wholesale and effective social isolation is the only answer. As a popular mass leader and head of a large, diverse and democratic country, Prime Minister Modi is aware of the fact that no amount of governmental efforts or forced lockdowns would be fully effective unless people are awakened to the gravity of the situation and voluntarily partake in Government’s efforts. Given that India has one of the largest workforce in the world in the unorganized sector, as a humanitarian leader, the Prime Minister is also aware of the plight that might befall on the poor and marginalized, small businessmen daily wage earners etc. due to the restrictions imposed and the impact of the economic slowdown gripping the entire world including India. While announcing the creation of a high power Economic Response Task Force to look into the ways and means to minimize the impact of Corona on economy and providing succor, he also appealed to the employers both in unorganized and formal sectors to have a large heart and not cut the salaries of low income groups, including domestic workers.
Being aware of the kind of pressure that might be faced in the coming days on the healthcare resources and infrastructure, Mr. Modi appealed to the people not to burden medical facilities for routine and non-emergent treatments. The Prime Minister extolled and appreciated the large number of health workers, doctors and paramedics who are dong a yeoman service at this hour of grave national crisis at the cost of their own personal safety. He appealed everyone to specially appreciate these unsung heroes.
Through his exhilarating address Prime Minister made a valiant attempt to keep the morale and spirit of the nation high which is the need of the hour to meet this menace frontally as India’s success is critical in global fight against Corona.
Script:Amlanjyoti Mazumdar, Director, ESD