Concern for the people, especially the underprivileged, was at the heart of the address by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the nation today on meeting the challenge of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has acquired the proportion of a pandemic worldwide and registered its alarming outbreak in India. On the occasion of Navratra, Prime Minister made nine requests to the people.
The prime minister said that patience and resolve of all Indians were vital in fighting the global pandemic, which has wreaked havoc all over the world. He requested citizens to follow certain measures to ensure the containment of the fast-spreading virus. He emphasised the importance of not taking the outbreak in the country lightly and the need to be aware and proactive towards prevention of COVID-19.
A special thrust of Modi was on the rich and the middle class to not deprive the poor who work at their homes and industries, letting them work from home or not work at all without deducting their wages.
Prime Minister Modi urged the business community and higher-income groups to look after the economic needs of those from lower-income groups, from whom they take various services, urging them not to cut their salary on the days they are unable to render the services due to inability to come to the workplace. He stressed on the importance of humanity during such times.
The prime minister urged citizens to follow the mantra of “when we are healthy, the world is healthy”. He stressed on the importance of following self-imposed norms like “social distancing”.
Requesting citizens to patiently abide by the norm, Modi urged the need to isolate oneself and come out of the house only if imperative, while trying to work from home and avoid unnecessary travel.
Modi also urged that senior citizens above the age of 60 should not come out of their homes for the coming few weeks. Highlighting the stress on the hospitals, he urged everyone to avoid routine check-ups during this time and to extend the date of surgeries scheduled, wherever feasible.
Modi proposes ‘janata curfew’
Prime Minister Modi urged citizens to follow the concept of “janata curfew” on 22 March from 7 AM to 9 PM, wherein no one apart from those involved with essential services is supposed to venture out of his or her home. He said that the success of such a people’s movement and the experiences gained from it would prepare the nation for the challenges ahead.
Modi added that the efforts of Indian on 22 March would be a symbol of the nation’s self-restraint and determination to perform duty in the national interest.
Urging state governments to take the lead, the prime minister asked all youth organisations — including NCC and NSS and civil societies — to generate awareness among people about the “janata curfew”. He urged everyone to try to inform at least 10 other people over the phone about this self-imposed curfew.
Thanking selfless service providers
Prime Minister Modi said that there were many brave people who were on the forefront of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic like medical staff, police, government servants, airline staff, media persons, bus/train/auto operators and those involved in providing home delivery. To pay respects to their yeoman service to the nation during such trying times, the prime minister suggested that on 22 March at 5 PM, all citizens should acknowledge and salute their efforts by standing in the balconies and at the doors of their houses and clap or ring bells for five minutes as a show of appreciation.
Modi urged the local government across the country to indicate the timing through blaring out a siren at 5 PM.
Meeting economic challenges
To deal with the economic challenges caused by the pandemic, Prime Minister Modi announced the creation of the “COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force” under the finance minister. The task force will consult stakeholders, take feedback, on the basis of which decisions will be taken to meet the challenges. The task force will ensure also the implementation of decisions made to meet these challenges.
The prime minister also assured the countrymen that there would not be any shortage of essential items like food, milk, medicines etc. He urged people to not resort to panic buying.
Prime Minister Modi exhorted everyone to work together and contribute fully to overcome the crisis of COVID-19. He urged the citizens not to fall prey to misinformation. Prime Minister said it was important to ensure that “humanity wins and India wins” during the time of such a global pandemic.