Prime Minister Narendra Modi while making the 21-day lockdown announcement. (screengrab)
Ever since India reported its first novel coronavirus case on January 30 in Kerala, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's action plan to contain the spread of COVID-19 has so far seen steps such as a 'Janata curfew' followed by a strict 21-day lockdown besides sealing India's borders by banning all international flights.
Besides two addresses to the nation and one to the citizens of his constituency in Varanasi, PM Modi has reached out to journalists, doctors and health workers through video conferencing to encourage them. To drive home the message of social distancing, PM Modi also announced that he would shun from participating in Holi festivities this year.
Here is how PM Narendra Modi responded to the coronavirus crisis
👉🏽 PM Modi holds summit with SAARC leaders, announces COVID-19 fund
In his first interaction with the global community, PM Modi on March 15 got on board SAARC leaders for a summit via video-conference to discuss the way forward to fight the coronavirus pandemic. In the summit, PM Modi proposed creation of a COVID-19 emergency fund, for which he committed “an initial offer of US$ 10 million”.
PM Modi was joined by Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Health Zafar Mirza.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses other G20 leaders during a virtual summit. (ANI)
"It is clear that we have to work together. We can respond best by coming together not growing apart, collaboration not confusion, preparation not panic. I propose that we create a COVID-19 emergency fund. This could be based on voluntary contributions from all of us. India can start with an initial offer of US$ 10 million for this fund. Any of us can use the fund to meet the cost of immediate actions," PM Modi said.
PM Modi also announced that the government had assembled a rapid response team of doctors and specialists in the country, along with testing kits and other equipment. "They will be on stand-by, to be placed at your disposal, if required," he said at the SAARC summit.
India, PM Modi added, had also set up an Integrated Disease Surveillance Portal to better trace possible virus carriers and the people they contacted. "We could share this Disease Surveillance software with SAARC partners, and training on using this," he said.
Social distancing was seen at a Cabinet meeting chaired by PM Modi last week. (PMO/Twitter)
👉🏽 PM Modi calls for Janata curfew
Four days later, in an address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the people to voluntarily participate in a 'Janata Curfew' for 14 hours from 7 AM to 9 PM on March 22 and follow the mantra of “resolve and restraint” to fight the coronavirus.
"Today, large and developed countries are seeing the widespread impact of the corona pandemic. It will be wrong to believe that this will not have any effect on India. Even World War I and II did not affect as many countries as coronavirus has done," PM Modi said.
On the day of the curfew, people across the country clapped, banged metal vessels, blew conch shells at 5 pm to applaud healthcare workers and doctors who are at the frontlines of the battle against coronavirus. "The country thanked each person who led the fight against the corona virus. Many thanks to the countrymen," Modi tweeted.
A man blows a conch shells at 5 pm in Mumbai during Janata curfew. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)
👉🏽 PM Modi announces 21-day lockdown
One day after the country observed 'Janata curfew', PM Narendra Modi on March 23 announced a complete lockdown across the country for 21 days from midnight to break the coronavirus transmission chain.
Underlining social distancing as the only way to deal with the outbreak threat, the Prime Minister, in his second address to the nation on the pandemic, said the lockdown “is like a curfew” and while “21 days of lockdown is a long time”, “it is equally essential for your safety and that of your family…jaan hai toh jahaan hai”.
“The next 21 days are of critical importance for us. As per health experts, a period of at least 21 days is extremely critical to break the infection chain of coronavirus. If the situation is not handled in these 21 days, the country and your family could go back 21 years. If the situation is not handled in these 21 days, several families will get devastated forever. Hence, you must forget what going out means for the next 21 days. Stay inside your home, stay inside your home, and do just one thing — stay inside your home,” PM Modi said.
View of Gateway of India in Mumbai on Sunday during Janata Curfew. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)
The Prime Minister also announced the creation of ‘COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force’ under Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and requested the people against panic buying of essential goods.
“This decision… has drawn a Lakshman Rekha at your doorsteps. You must remember that a single step outside your home can bring a dangerous pandemic like corona inside.” he said.
👉🏽 Those wearing white coats in hospitals an incarnation of God: PM Modi
A day later, the Prime Minister interacted with the citizens of his constituency of Varanasi via video conferencing and this time his focus was on the healthcare professionals and medical staff who were “risking their lives to keep ours safe”. PM Modi also said strict action would be taken against those discriminating against doctors.
"In this time of crisis, any person wearing a white coat in a hospital is an incarnation of God. It is these people who are saving us all from death. They are putting their lives in danger to do so," PM Modi said.
PM Modi also announced the creation of a Corona Helpdesk, created in collaboration with WhatsApp with the number 9013151515. "You can WhatsApp this number and be connected with it. If you write Namaste on this number, you will be connected."
The lockdown has seen an exodus of migrants from cities to their native villages.
👉🏽 Modi sets up PM-CARES emergency fund
Urging people to contribute in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday announced the setting up of Prime Minister Citizen Assurance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-CARES). The Prime Minister is the Chairman of this trust and its members include Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister.
देशभर से लोगों ने COVID-19 के खिलाफ लड़ाई में सहयोग करने की इच्छा जाहिर की है।
इस भावना का सम्मान करते हुए Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund का गठन किया गया है। स्वस्थ भारत के निर्माण में यह बेहद कारगर साबित होगा।
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 28, 2020
👉🏽 PM Modi seeks forgiveness for difficulties during lockdown
A day later, in his monthly radio address Mann ki Baat, PM Modi sought "forgiveness" for the difficulties caused by the 21-day nationwide lockdown, especially to the poor, while hoping that the country would put the coronavirus crisis behind in a month’s time.
Migrant workers head back to their villages in Rajkot in Gujarat.( Express Photo by Gopal Kateshiya)
"I had to take certain decisions which have put you in a lot of difficulty. Especially when I look at my poor brothers and sisters, I definitely feel they must be thinking, what kind of a Prime Minister is this, who has placed us in this difficulty. Possibly, many would be angry at me for being locked in their homes… I seek forgiveness… I strongly feel you will forgive me,” he said.
With migrant labourers leaving big cities in droves for villages, Modi urged people to help them, saying, "We should be more sensitive towards the poor. Our humanity lies in feeding the poor first in this time of difficulty. India can do this, this is our culture."
Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?