Modi — The Guardian in Chief in the testing times of COVID-19


Published: April 16, 2020 7:49:53 pm


Narendra Modi addressed the nation on 14 April 2020 as the Guardian in Chief of the country and his address had a powerful underlying message of unity and optimism. (File Photo)

During the testing times of COVID-19 faced by the entire globe, India as a nation has become a symbol of resilience and hope in the world. India has displayed that even with its share of handicaps like low literacy rate and poverty; unique diversity is its strength. The resolve of India as a Nation to fight this disease together, is visible in a million plus real life heroes clad in white coats and khaki uniforms. The world has witnessed the power of a billion plus people working with single minded pursuit to defeat the Corona virus.

It is definitely no mean feat that with a population four times the size of the USA, the number of reported cases in India are only 2 % of that of the USA.

Narendra Modi addressed the nation on 14 April 2020 as the Guardian-in-Chief of the country and his address had a powerful underlying message of unity and optimism. His indomitable spirit was evident when he decided to extend the lockdown till 3rd May 2020 and shared the 7 commandments with the citizens urging them to take care of the elderly, wear face masks, strengthen immunity etc. He sounded optimistic that as a country we will prevail over this tough time.

It is his ability to take bold and timely decisions that has ensured India is far better prepared than any other country to fight this dreadful pandemic. It was clear in his address that though the lockdown has an economic cost attached to it but saving human lives, ensuring welfare of poor and the farmers remains his top priority.

He reminded India that this fight against the pandemic is not about regions, this fight will never be about being a Hindu or a Muslim, it is also not about being a BJP supporter or a non BJP supporter, this fight is about “Oneness”. The only way India can defeat, eradicate and demolish COVID is by being united.

No democratic head of state in the world is shouldering the weight of expectations of 130 crore citizens and valuing the rights of the citizens. A leader with extraordinary capability will also crumble under the pressure and weight of such gigantic expectations. India is lucky to have a strong, decisive leader like Narendra Modi at the helm of affairs, he could foresee the ramifications of not implementing a complete lockdown in time and took an extraordinary decision to call for a nationwide lockdown on the 24th of March 2020 when there were only 550 COVID positive patients in the country. This was done much earlier than many of the developed nations, who are facing the wrath of the pandemic due to decision making paralysis.

A leader is one who inspires his team. Mr Modi has just done that. As Ralph Emerson famously said, “do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” To the credit of the Central Government it has been proactive rather than reactive in curbing the menace of COVID.

The Home Minister Amit Shah is micro managing the deployment of the security forces to ensure there is no issue pertaining to public order and safety. The health minister Harsh Vardhan leading from the front has been instrumental in ensuring that decisions taken by the government are effectively implemented at the grass root level. He is to be credited for ensuring State Governments are made equal participants and their demands are effectively met.

The resources of the Government during this testing time are limited but the will to reach the poor and marginalized is unlimited, the Finance Minister Ms Nirmala Sitaraman ensured through a timely package of 170,000 crore, farmers get their Kisan Samman Nidhi instalment early, women get 3 free gas cylinders under the Ujjwala Yojana and Rs 500 in their Jandhan account. The poor are getting free ration so that no one in the country sleeps without food. These are some efficacious steps amongst many.

Mr Piyush Goyal, the Railway Minister was quick to implement the novel idea of converting railway coaches into isolation wards thus adding to the much needed capacity by 80,000.

When the government felt that there might be shortage of PPE kits, the very efficient and persevering Ms Smriti Irani worked tirelessly to ensure that we have enough stock of PPE kits by encouraging Indian companies to produce the same.

Keeping in mind the need for higher testing, the government has put the pedal to the metal, and has conducted over 210,000 tests so far. Some critics blame the government for low level per capita testing compared to other countries but the naysayers easily ignore the low per capita fatality rate in India. In India, deaths per 1 million population stands is very low at 0.2, compare this to the death rate in the USA at 67, Spain 368, Italy 329, France 221 and UK 156. The government is also encouraging Indian companies to produce testing kits indigenously and the result has been encouraging so far.

An appeal earlier made by the Prime Minister for the Janta curfew and “taali bajao & thali bajao” was also well received by the people of the country and gave them a sense of participation and purpose in this fight against COVID19. It was a way to show their gratitude towards millions of selfless doctors, paramedics, police personnel, security guards, local delivery boys and many other heroes without faces and names.

Narendra Modi as a statesman is providing succor and relief not just to India but also to developed nations like the US by providing them with much needed local drug Hydroxychloroquine. The first shipment has been received by them. As a global leader he took lead and gave direction and a sense of purpose to the discussions to fight the pandemic on forums like SAARC and G20.

Many wonder what it would be like for the man himself, to shoulder this herculean task. Would there be moments of grief listening to the unfortunate news of Indians succumbing to the disease. Would he sometimes feel dejected with constant criticism and politicization from some of the irresponsible opposition quarters? India knows that there is one man who is the modern day Arjun in this COVID Mahabharat, aiming only for the eye of the fish and that Man is Narendra Modi.

India is posited well to overcome this pandemic and the only way we can win the COVID war, is by strictly adhering to Lockdown 2.0. It is imperative that every citizen comes forward to fulfill his / her duty under the Constitution of India and with our collective effort “We the People” of India will surely set an example for the World to emulate.

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https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/narendra-modi-guardian-in-chief-covid-19-coronavirus-6365713/

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