Prime Minister Narendra Modi today addressed the nation, facing the expectation that he would either say something about the Ladakh standoff or announce measures that would boost the economy, neither of which he met. It was his sixth address to the nation since the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a refreshing change, the prime minister joined his hands in the posture of a pranām to thank India’s taxpayers, which made his welfare schemes possible, while thanking farmers too, which all politicians do.
Prime Minister Modi said today that a key government scheme to distribute free food grains to 80 crore of India’s poorest — 2.5 times the population of US — would be extended up to the Chhath Puja in November as relief for them amid the spread of coronavirus infections still raging in the country.
“Keeping in mind all the festivals that are coming up in the next few months, this scheme to provide 80 crore people with 5 kg free ration and 1 kg dal (pulses) per month will now be extended till Diwali and Chhath Puja, or till the end of November,” Modi said, addressing the nation.
Following the announcement by the Indian government to ban 59 Chinese mobile applications, including top social media platforms such as TikTok, Helo and WeChat to counter the threat posed by these applications to country’s “sovereignty and security”, there was no mention of China. Even without naming the hostile neighbour, the prime minister could have detailed how India would cope in the absence of imports from that country — which dominate the electronic goods market, pharmaceutical industry and also organic products — but he did not.
Amid the Union ministry of home affairs extending the lockdown in the containment zones till 31 July under ‘Unlock 2.0’ The government plans to spend Rs 90,000 crore on expanding the free ration scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana, till November.
More than Rs 90,000 crore will be spent in the expansion of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. And if you add the expenses of the last three months to it, then it becomes almost Rs 1.5 lakh crore, Modi said.
Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, we announced a package of Rs. 1.75 lakh crore. In the last 3 months, ₹31,000 crore deposited in bank accounts of 20 crore poor families. Also, ₹18,000 crore deposited in bank accounts of more than 9 crore farmers, he added.
He said, PM Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana will be extended till the end of November, extension to cost over ₹90 thousand crore.
During lockdown, rules were strictly abided by. Now, governments, local administration and citizens again have to show similar caution. We need to have a special focus on containment zones. If you see someone flouting norms, tell them to not do so, Modi said.
The prime minister urged the people of the country to keep following social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols as the country enters in the phase of relaxations, called Unlock 2.
“It’s correct that India is in a much better position in terms of COVID-19 fatality rate. And that has happened because we implemented the lockdown at the right time. But since Unlock 1 started, we have been careless. We were maintaining social distance, wearing masks and washing hands to more than 20 seconds when the lockdown was in place,” PM Modi said in his address to the nation.
“But today, when we need these things more than anything, we have not been following these protocols,” he added.
“The state governments, local administration and citizens again have to show similar caution. We need to have a special focus on containment zones. If you see someone flouting norms, tell them to not do so,” PM Modi said.
This was the prime minister’s sixth address to the nation since the pandemic began in March this year. He had first announced a Janta Curfew as a means to practice social distancing to fight the coronavirus pandemic.