Modi’s vigorous and convincing personal style of communication in an otherwise gloomy phase, provided a breath of fresh air and set new goals for the common people.
Prof. Saumya Maniny Sinha
Unraveling the mystery may still take some time, in terms of whether the COVID-19 is
the result of some natural genetic mutation of Corona virus or is it an ‘lab-made Chinese virus’ ,but at present the pandemic has unleashed a range of challenges for governments at the domestic front. The only certainty today is uncertainty in almost every field and
governments across the world are doing their best to cope up with the disruptions
caused by the Covid-19 crisis.
The Indian Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done a commendable job in imposing one of ‘the tightest lockdowns’ in the world, which has helped in containing the
spread of the contagion in an otherwise densely populated country. The Indian Democracy
has stood the test of times and exhibited its truly co-operative federal nature as the
States and Union Territories, irrespective of their Governments’ party affiliation, have stood
in good faith with the central government in this hour of crisis. The Prime Minister’s decisive
leadership and regular connect with the Indian masses has helped in establishing social
solidarity and acceptance of lockdown directives. India had imposed one of the
world’s strictest lockdowns where almost everything, except essential services like
health and food supplies were, closed. That helped in staggering the rise in cases. India crossed the figure of one lakh in 64 days, where it took just 25-30 days in US
and other Western countries. According to researchers at Oxford University, India’s
lockdown scored the highest rating of 100 in the world. Despite poor health
infrastructure, the recovery rate of COVID-19 patients is increasing everyday and at
present it is more than 40% with almost 26 lakh tests conducted till date.
The style and character of a country's leader has a great impact on the credibility and reputation of governments and nations in times of crisis.
Modi’s vigorous and convincing personal style of communication in an otherwise gloomy phase, provided a breath of fresh air and set new goals for the common people. Whether it was clapping for those at the frontline of Covid-19 battle (Taali-Thaali magic) on 23 March 2020 or the lighting of lamps on 9 April 2020, people were kept engaged and involved.
Similarly, Prime Minister’s address to the nation was watched widely with anticipation
and helped a lot in developing a sense of national unity in times of an unprecedented health emergency. Recently, the announcement of a package of Rs 1,000 crore to West Bengal and Rs 500 crore assistance to Odisha in the wake of Cyclone Amphan immediately, after his aerial survey, built confidence among the people.
India has been doing active footwork in global diplomacy also. The exemplary
management of COVID-19 crisis by the Modi government is creating admirers across the world. India has emerged as the ‘Pharmacy of the world’ with swelling demand of drugs like
Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and Paracetamol produced in India. India has been supplying
these drugs to 133 countries including USA, Russia, Spain, UK, Brazil, Jordan, Egypt,
members of SAARC, BIMSTEC, GCC, Latin America and Africa. The Ministry of
External Affairs has taken many initiatives that won hearts: i) Early evacuation of Indian nationals from worst affected countries like Iran, China along with sending complimentary humanitarian aid to these countries
ii) Operation Sanjeevani which delivered 6.2 tonnes of essential medicines and hospital consumables to Maldives
iii) Deployment to Maldives and Kuwait of Rapid Response Teams from India which consist mainly of medical staff
iv) Mission SAGAR under which Indian Naval ship Kesari was sent to Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles carrying on board two medical assistance teams and consignment of COVID-19 related medicines
v) Repatriation of around 20,000 Indian Nationals under Vande Bharat Mission and Indian Navy’s Samudra Setu
A great crisis has also created great opportunities for India. Indian soft power has got a new boost in the global community with the Indian Namaste, yoga, spices, Ayurveda and indigenous medical treatments playing a pioneering role in combating this virus which has acquired global qualities.
Covid-19 has been an exogenous shock to the poor and business in India. The ‘Reverse migration’ of laborers back to their villages has been a painful sight for every Indian.
At a time, when all the economic activities have come to a sudden standstill indicative of the fact, that post-Lockdown, the country shall be facing an economic challenge in terms of rising unemployment, poverty and global recession, the Indian government has come up with a well-conceived and carefully calibrated plan of action.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a stimulus package known as Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan or Self-reliant India Mission as the marshall plan of the country to tide over the Corona crisis. The Rs 20lakh-crore package is based on the principle of Reform, Perform and Transform. This package is about 10% of India’s GDP in 2019-20 and is not entirely in new spending but includes Rs 1.7 lakh crore package announced by the government in March to provide food-grain ration supply to poor and direct cash transfers under Jan-Dhan Yojana and Ujjwala scheme. This cash transfer scheme is one of the largest welfare schemes of its kind benefiting crores of people, particularly those below the poverty line. This was followed by Rs 3.7 lakh crore of liquidity support by the RBI in March and another Rs 2lakh-crore in April.
As part of the process of acting locally and thinking globally, the package gives special attention to agriculture and allied activities, MSMEs, civil aviation, space and indigenisation of defense. Modi’s model of inclusive globalisation and ‘Make in India’ is based on the principle of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which will help tap investors preferring to invest in India instead of China in the present times. The scheme is in line with Prime Minister Modi’s call of ‘Vocal for Local.’ Accordingly, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced major structural reforms for almost all sectors which will take the economy in the right direction.
Corona virus is here to stay, till a major medical breakthrough does not come about in terms of vaccine and treatments. The fight against Corona virus has reached a new stage in India.
The Indian government has adopted a pro-active approach both on the domestic and external fronts. New Delhi needed a strategy for the post-Covid 19 period which would further build upon India’s natural geographic complexities, pressing economic issues, historic role as the regional security provider and a shared cultural inheritance. The government has adopted a people-centric approach trying to strike the right chord between life and livelihood. Smooth transition to the ‘new normal’ will depend on the synergy between Centre and states. Or, to put it in other words, Indian democracy shall become maturer while fighting the Novel pandemic.
(The author is an Assistant Professor teaching Political Science in St. Xavier’s College,