Beyond claps & lamps, there's more to Modi's fight against coronavirus

Unfortunately, we share this country with dangerous elements, that, even in such unprecedented times, fail to rise above petty politics and failed ideologies. These self-absorbed, inward-looking characters often assume the guise of intellectuals, wax empty eloquence laced with heavyweight vocabulary, draw fatuous parallels and deceive the naive populace.

These ‘proxy intellectuals’ have now drummed up a new narrative: India is fighting coronavirus pandemic with claps and lamps. They even muster up the audacity of questioning the collective IQ of a country of 1.3-billion people. 

Modi lighting a lamp

No, India is not ‘fighting’ COVID-19 with claps and lamps 

India has braved what the most developed western countries couldn’t muster up the guts to try: bringing an unprecedented lockdown on the world’s 2nd largest population, a measure so daunting, even an absolutist like Chinese Premier Xi Jinping shuddered to dare try. US President Donald Trump hid behind the rhetoric of, ‘Our country is not built to shut down’, and despite registering a petrifying eight-fold rise in 7 days, President Bolsonaro of Brazil dismissed the coronavirus threat as a ‘little flu’. 

Anyone studying the global trends closely knows that a recession is in the offing regardless of COVID-19 or the lockdown it led to. But in India, it will now be blamed on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he knows it.

Aware of the economic collapse that perhaps awaits us on the other end of the lockdown and the pernicious effects it will pose to his political career, the Indian prime minister held the lives of his citizens paramount. Having jeopardized his political future for us, he came out apologizing for the little hardships we are experiencing, albeit for our own wellness. 

India had started its fight against the coronavirus way before it ballooned into a pandemic. We airlifted 645 Indian students from China and 236 Indians pilgrims performing religious duties from Iran and quarantined them in Army facilities.

Some of the biggest cities in the world can’t compare to the stern medical advisories followed at our airports which are conducting necessary medical check-ups on every passenger arriving from overseas and recommending subsequent action. 

Making provisions available and procuring supplies for India’s massive population is not child’s play. Nor is it easy to map out the economic sanctions for this economically diverse demography overnight.  But we have one in place now that includes insurance of up to Rs 50 lakh for medical and sanitation workers.

Rs 2,000 is being rolled out via DBT (Direct Bank Transfer) aiding over 8.6 crore farmers, MNREGA minimum wages are increased to Rs 202 per day from Rs 182.

Other grants comprise Rs 1,000 per month to the widows and the disabled, Rs 500/month for three months to over 20.5 crore women holding Jan Dhan accounts and free LPG cylinders to women covered under the Ujjawala scheme.

An amount of Rs 31,000 crore has been directed to the construction workers’ welfare funds. Extra 5 kg rice or wheat per person, along with 1 kg pulses, is being given to underprivileged families. 

The middle class gets a breather with EMIs being deferred for 3 months. The Reserve Bank of India has voted for a massive repo rate cut to maintain stability and revive growth. COVID-19 tests costing Rs 4,500 have bee arranged for free for those in the Ayushma Bharat scheme in government and private hospitals.

The government has repeatedly requested corporates to allow ‘work from home’ and issued an advisory to companies operating in the private and public sector to not lay off employees during this period or cut any salaries.

Compare this to the land of opportunities, the United States of America, which is reeling under the threat of unemployment with over 6 million already laid off in the wake of the pandemic. 

Salaries of Members of Parliament will be reduced by 30% for a year, allowances and other perks will be cut also. Rs 10 crore from the MPLADS funds from every MP has been directed toward the fight against the coronavirus for two years. 

With transportation having been brought to a halt, railway coaches have been converted into quarantine facilities. Arrangements are being made to turn schools, hotels, stadiums, miscellaneous buildings into quarantine facilities. The DRDO has been assigned the task of producing produce 5,000 ventilators per month. Private companies are likely to chip in.

Over 6,000 liters of hand sanitizers have been sent to Armed Forces, the Parliament and security establishments. 51 military hospitals in major cities are being prepared to operate as dedicated coronavirus facilities, with intensive care units equipped to tackle outbreaks if any.

Yes, we were faced with scarcity of protective gears. But, gradually 4,66,057 PPEs and 25,28,996 masks have been dispatched to states, another batch of 1,54,250 PPEs and 1,53,300 will be procured and sent shortly, and the government is trying to import 10 lakh PPE for its front-line warriors also.

The Centre has commanded states to sell masks and hand sanitizers through ration shops imposing a ban on export of sanitizers and ventilators. The Uttar Pradesh government has arranged for over 10,000 vehicles to take essential commodities like vegetables, milk, fruits, medicines at the doorstep of people throughout the state.

In a move benefiting 60 lakh families, the Gujarat government has committed free 3.5 kg wheat and 1.5 kg rice along with sugar, salt and pulses to every Ration Card holder. Keeping up with its IT savvy generation the Karnataka government has introduced an Official Telegram channel where medical professionals answer queries and clarify doubts 24*7.  

The much-vilified Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has sent food to over 100,000 needy Mumbaikars, and is operating out of 52 kitchens in the national capital to provide food to the hungry across 8 zones and distributed 250 food packets to sex-workers in GB Road for free.

Democracy is a bilateral deal

As much as it is the responsibility of the state to assure the safety of its subjects, the people too have duties towards the state. They cannot defy the lockdown, gather in thousands, disregard repeated police notices, and melt into the general population as carriers of this deadly contagion. They cannot assault officials and pull out the ‘minority card’, or ‘victim card’. They cannot ride high on the celebrity horse or bureaucratic rank. COVID-19 shows no discrimination for socio-religious-economic identities. 

There has been enough demonizing of Prime Minister Modi for reasons that warm up personal agendas of the selected few. In dangerous times like these, Indians must not be deluded with their chicanery. Industrialists of this country, sports personalities and well-meaning artists have donated generously for the cause.

Commoners have not shied away either. Our bustling streets are wearing a deserted look not for nothing. The lockdown is ‘comprehensive and robust’, said WHO Representative to India Henk Bekedam. A lot has been done, a lot more need done, too. We must not believe that we are not being taken care of. 

Aside to the quasi intellectuals

Had you been qualified enough to control people on the roads, you would have been a police official. Had you been qualified enough to treat patients, you would have been at hospitals attending to them. Had you been qualified enough to put together a vaccine or a pill to fight COVID-19, you would have been in an R&D lab. Even a 12-pass delivery boy making food available at every door has qualifications that are vital for this nation, and his services are being put to use. When it comes to worthwhile qualifications, seemingly, you have none. 

You don’t want to heed to the call for claps or lighting lamps, which is okay. It wasn’t a mandate, it was optional. We forgive your linguistic limitation with Hindi, for the prime minister never promised to cure COVID-19 with claps and lamps. He summoned his countrymen to stand in unity.

It was an easy ask for those who didn’t possess the aforementioned expertise, but had a heart to uplift our combined morale. We let our unity echo through coordinated claps, our glimmer through flickering flames. Alas! You failed at these responsibilities, also.  

Your only area of excellence is ‘pessimism’ and you are masterful at cascading gloom. Your proficiency lies in lies. But we have no demand for the commodities you sell.

So, do us a favor: sit down and read a book. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. These opinions do not reflect the views of Yahoo.

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