Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday extened the nationwide lockdown till May 3 to contain the spread of coronavirus. In a televised address to the nation, Modi lauded the spirit of India and said the world had appreciated country’s quick action, but more needed to be done to keep the virus in check. Even as he listed out various steps taken by the government, the PM announced the stringent measures the would follow till at least April 20.
In his speech, Modi appreciated the medical staff as well as others employed in essential services for their efforts. At the same time, he called upon the people to be patient and to cooperate with the government in helping fight the pandemic and stopping it from getting a toehold in their districts.
Here are five things that the PM referred to in his speech:
1) PM announced restrictions may be lifted from certain areas and states that show improvement after April 20.
"Till April 20, every town, every police station, every district, every state will be tested on how much they are adhering to the lockdown; how much the areas have protected themselves from coronavirus. It will be observed.
"Some necessary activities may be allowed in areas that will pass this litmus test; areas which will not be among the hotspots and are less likely to turn into hotspots," he said.
2) New guidelines promise relief to farmers who are unable to harvest Rabi crops.
3) Has appealed to business and industry not to terminate services of employees. “Be kind to people who work with you in your business, your industry, do not lay off anyone,” the PM said.
4) He highlighted India’s success in checking the spread of coronavirus as compared to other developed countries. "If India would not have adopted a holistic approach, if an integrated approach was not initiated, India's situation would have been different (compared to many developed countries). It is clear from the experiences of the past few days that the path we have chosen is right," the prime minister said.
5) Lauding the country’s preparedness to fight coronavirus, he said the country has more than one lakh beds and 600 hospitals for Covid-19 patients.
"We are making rapid progress in ramping up health infrastructure as well. From having only one testing lab for COVID-19 in January, we now have more than 220 functional testing labs. Global experience shows that 1,500-1,600 beds are required for every 10,000 patients. In India, we have arranged more than one lakh beds today," he said.
"Not only this, there are more than 600 hospitals which are dedicated for COVID-19 treatment. As we speak, these facilities are being increased even more rapidly," he added.
However, his speech came under sharp criticism from the opposition parties. In several tweets, they listed out various things the PM did not touch upon.
Here are five things that the PM did not refer to in his speech:
1) No relief for the poor
In a tweet, while supporting the extension of the lockdown, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said, “But he should have also announced serious relief for those who cannot make ends meet. MNREGA payments, JanDhan accounts, GST dues to states,&aid to sweeten the pill.”
2) Silent on stabilisation plan for the economy that has seen massive disruption due to the lockdown
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram expressed disappointment that the poor had been left to fend for themselves "for 21+19 days, including practically" soliciting food. "The poor have been left to fend for themselves for 21+19 days, including practically soliciting food. There is money, there is food, but the government will not release either money or food. Cry, my beloved country," he said on Twitter.
3) No word on industrial production and distribution that have been severely curtailed.
4) No response on demand for additional money to fight Covid-19 by the chief ministers.
5) While asking people to respect corona warriors like doctors and nurses, PM was silent on procuring health essentials like PPEs and testing kits.