The entire world including India is dealing with the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19. Globally, this pandemic has brought life to a standstill. The Government of India under the dynamic leadership of Narendra Modi has left no stone unturned to tackle the pandemic. His public appeal for ‘Janta Curfew’ followed by bold and tough steps to enact a national lockdown played a big role in curbing the spread of virus in the early stages. His administration capabilities, profound communication skills, vast experience has proven to be an asset for the nation for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
On 12 May 2020, the PM announced economy packages of up to Rs 20 lakh-crore (nearly 10% of the national GDP). Subsequently, on 12 October the finance minister announced Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package 2.0 and Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package 3.0 on 12 November 2020. The total amount of stimulus measures presently accounts for Rs 29,87,641 crore. Some of the key schemes under these stimulus packages are - PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbharNidhi (PM SVANidhi), Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana, Covid Suraksha Mission. Other key initiatives in this regard include credit boost for 2.5 crore farmers through Kisan Credit Cards, Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), additional emergency working capital funding for farmers through NABARD, Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme, Atmanirbhar manufacturing production-linked incentives for 10 champion sectors, additional outlay for PM Awaas Yojana (PMAY)-Urban, subsidised fertilisers for farmers, EXIM bank for lines of credit, capital and industrial stimulus for domestic defence equipment, industrial incentives, industrial infrastructure and green energy. Free Ration to about 80 crores beneficiaries under PMGKY Anna Yojna has brought major relief to millions who lost earnings due to Covid-19. The stimulus package puts India on the path towards greater ‘self-reliance’.
PM Cares Fund
A public charitable trust under the name of Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM Cares Fund) was registered on 27 March 2020. The main objective of PM Cares Fund is to undertake and support relief relating to a public health emergency or any other emergency, calamity or distress, either human-made or natural, including the creation or upgradation of healthcare or pharmaceutical facilities, other necessary infrastructure, funding relevant research or any other type of support. In May 2020, Rs 3100 crore was allocated for fight against Covid-19. Out of this, approximately Rs 2,000 crore was earmarked for the purchase of ventilators, Rs 1,000 crore was used for care of migrant labourers and Rs 100 crore was given out to support vaccine development. In January 20201, the trust allocated Rs 201.58 crores for installation of additional 162 dedicated Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants with a total capacity of 154.19MT inside public health facilities across 32 states/UTs before the second wave.
The PM also announced ‘PM-Cares for Children’ scheme for all children who had lost both the parents or surviving parent or legal guardian/adoptive parents due to Covid-19. The scheme provides fixed deposit in the name of the child, support for primary up to higher education and health insurance. The generous donation to PM Cares speaks volume about the amount of faith and trust on PM Modi’s leadership. The timely use of funds for the emergency situation is helping the country to mitigate the calamity.
Fostering Global Partnership
The pharmaceutical industry in India is one of its strongest pillars. India has been exporting vaccines and medicines to other countries. Making Covid-19 vaccines available to countries in need was thus a natural outcome of India’s medical diplomacy. India launched ‘Vaccine Maitri’ to provide indigenous vaccines to other countries. About 66 million vaccines (granted and commercial) were exported to 95 counties till May 2021. India also donated 2 lakh vaccines to UN peacekeepers across UN Missions. The country gained massive goodwill by providing assistance to other countries and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres lauded India's effort. He said, “India played a very important role in the production of generics for use that was a very important element of democratisation of access to medicines all over the world”. Others who praised India’s efforts include US President, Brazilain President, and WHO Chief.
India’s effort was reciprocated when India was hit by the second wave. Nations all over the world provided oxygen cylinders, medical equipment and medicines. Despite huge domestic demand for vaccines, India stepped up to provide other nations with the much-needed vaccines. In this sense, the PM successfully implemented India’s old philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’.
Leading from the front
On 7 June 2021, the PM announced free vaccine programme for all Indian citizens above 18 years of age. Earlier, respecting the demand of few state governments to procure vaccination and administer the same, the Centre had allowed states to procure vaccines up to 25% from 1 May. However, they failed to address the problem and again sought central government’s intervention for vaccine procurement. By 20 June 2021, 23.6 per cent of eligible population had taken at least one dose. Rapid vaccination was made the top priority of the Modi government. When nation was in the grip of the second wave the opposition parties started a blame game while flouting guidelines of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in their states. There is no denying that the virus had hit the country hard but instead of playing the victim card the PM Modi chose to take the bull by its horns. From regaining economic progress to ensuring national security, India is rebooting under his strong leadership.
Modi’s highest Global Approval Rating in the latest survey conducted by American data intelligence firm 'Morning Consult’ is proof of his undented popularity among the masses. Around 82 lakh people were vaccinated on the International Yoga Day under world’s largest vaccination drive – this is just one of the many examples of his performance-led-governance.
(Author is a Research Scholar of Public Policy & Public Administration at Central University of Jammu)