New Delhi: Affirming that India is in a “war-like situation” against the dreaded Coronavirus but that the country would “win the battle”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologised to all Indians for the difficulties they are facing due to the three-week national lockdown that began on March 25 but said there was no other way but to take this harsh decision that was necessary as it is a “fight between life and death”. He said the lockdown would keep the country safe.
“I apologise to all countrymen. I know you will forgive me. This decision has led to difficulties especially for the poor. They must have wondered how I could do it. Some people must be angry. I understand. But there was no other way. It is a fight between life and death,” PM Modi said in his “Mann ki baat” address via radio. “It was necessary to take such a harsh decision. It was the only way out. We must win the battle,” he added.
Referring to lockdowns throughout the world in various countries, PM Modi said, “The Coronavirus has imprisoned the entire world. ... The virus threatens humanity.” He said the virus cares for neither borders nor weather conditions when it strikes people.
Sounding a word of caution to those defying the lockdown for frivolous reasons, PM Modi said, “You have to save everyone by following the lockdown. Follow the ‘lakshman rekha’. Don’t break the law. Unfortunately, some people are breaking it. They don’t understand the gravity of the situation. Don’t play with your lives”.
He further said, “The decisions taken (by countries) have never been heard of before in the world. India’s steps will bring us victory. We have to adhere to the lockdown now but Indians in future will break all barriers and march ahead. We have to win. We will win.”
Striking a philosophical note, PM Modi said the duration of the lockdown was a time to “look within ourselves” and “end emotional distances” by communicating with others in various ways while maintaining social distance and remaining confined to their respective homes. “Social distance does not mean emotional distance or ending social interaction. Renew your interactions, reduce emotional distances,” he said.
The Prime Minister also told people not to misbehave with those who had risked their lives to help the nation in the fight against the dreaded Coronavirus. He said those who had been abroad had been quarantined as per norms but that they should not be stigmatised. He also exhorted people to take care of the poor and hungry in these difficult times, saying it is “part of our culture”.
PM Modi also praised the efforts of the “frontline soldiers” including doctors, nurses, health workers and sanitation workers in the war against the Coronavirus and also saluted the courage and resilience shown by survivors who had been infected but had recovered. In this context, the PM spoke to an IT professional from Hyderabad Ramgampa Teja who had been infected with the virus while on a work-related visit to Dubai but had been subsequently treated in a hospital in Hyderabad. “I recovered after two weeks but it was scary,” Mr. Teja told PM Modi.
An Agra-based businessman Ashok Kapoor told PM Modi how his two sons and son-in-law had been infected while on a business trip to Italy leading to his entire family being infected on their return but that they had recovered. A Delhi-based doctor Nitish Gupta told PM Modi that doctors were upbeat and deployed in the fight against the Coronavirus “like the Army on the border”.
PM Modi also spoke about the challenges before nurses and recalled that the year 2020 had been dedicated to this noble profession, even as he remembered the sacrifices made by Florence Nightingale, the 19th century founder of the modern profession of Nursing whose 200th birth anniversary is being commemorated globally. He also appreciated those providing essential services at this time including in e-commerce and the media.