Saturday, January 23, 2021
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Leadership in times of crisis: Narendra Modi

The Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis. Who’d have ever imagined that a city in China would wreak havoc on the rest of the world? The world has been thrown into disarray. As I write this, nearly 3 lakh people across the world have died from Covid-19. The numbers are ever increasing. The world is searching for a vaccine. We have never needed a vaccine so urgently.
When the world was still waking to the reality of the dreaded Covid-19, India was a step ahead. It had already foreseen the danger that lay ahead. In this highly interconnected and globalized world, it takes only a short time for diseases and viruses to spread. As such, India announced that all international flights would remain suspended in/to India from March 19, 2020 and subsequently, all domestic flights were also cancelled from March 24, 2020. In fact, these bold decisions are testimony to the farsightedness, boldness and sagacity of Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi. In the fight against Covid-19, India has done quite well for itself led by PM Modi. PM Modi’s decisive actions are acknowledged and admired by the nation. Although the nationwide lockdown would adversely affect the economy, saving lives was more important to him, unlike many Western leaders who gave more weight to their economies as a result of which they are now paying heavy prices in terms of human lives. International organizations and world leaders have spoken highly of PM Modi’s leadership in these difficult times. After all, being the PM of a country with a population of 1.35 billion was never going to be easy, even more so during a pandemic. But PM Modi has shown exceptional leadership skills to steer the nation in the right path. Time and again, PM Modi has repaid the trust placed in him and in the government by taking timely decisions. A towering example is that of the Rupees 1.7 lakh crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna which ensures insurance scheme for health workers working in government hospitals and health centers, increase in MGNREGA wages by Rupees 20 which would mean an additional benefit of Rupees 2000 annually to a worker ultimately benefitting 13.62 crore families, free gas cylinders to 8 crore families for three months, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna women account holders would also get an ex-gratia of Rupees 500 for three months. Further, 80 crore ration card holders would be entitled to 5 kilos of rice/wheat and 1 kilo of pulses, along with an additional benefit of another 5 kilos of rice/wheat and an additional 1 kilo of pulses – all for three months. The most significant announcement yet by the BJP-led NDA government under PM Modi’s visionary leadership is the announcement of a huge Rupees 20 lakh crore (estimated to be about 10% of India’s GDP) economic package with emphasis on a self-reliant India. It would focus on farmers, labourers, land, labor, liquidity and MSMEs. PM Modi was also very particular about being “vocal about local”- an appeal to all Indians to start promoting local products. In fact, India has already started: from zero, we are already manufacturing 2 lakh PPEs and 2 lakh N95 masks respectively, every day. This is a huge achievement in a very short and difficult time. PM Modi has signalled the beginning of bold reforms in India.
When it comes to the international scene, India under PM Modi has shown its willingness to be a trustworthy partner in the global fight against Covid-19. The international community is highly appreciative of India’s generosity and leadership. As of today, India has exported hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), the anti-malarial drug expected to be a “game changer” in the fight against Covid-19, to 97 countries. US President Trump has stated that, “India’s help will not be forgotten.” Coming from the office of the world’s most powerful leader, it is not a compliment to be ignored. Apart from the USA, countries like France, Germany, Brazil, Nigeria, Oman, Sri Lanka, Netherlands, Bangladesh etc have been the beneficiaries of India’s HCQ exports. Besides that, India is also sending food and essential supplies to different countries. Afghanistan, an important partner of India, is one such example. It had recently received 5022 MT of wheat from India. Maldives, another important partner and India’s neighbor, is also another beneficiary of India’s generosity. Just recently, it had received 580 tonnes of food. Like a true leader and statesman, PM Modi took the initiative in hosting a video conference of the heads of SAARC member nations, whereby, he initiated the setting up of a Covid-19 Emergency Fund to fight the dreaded virus in South Asia. India’s initial donation was $10 million. As of now, the SAARC Covid Emergency Fund stands at $21.8 million.
PM Modi has shown the way and is leading by example. However we cannot leave everything to him and the government alone. Hence, it is imperative on our part, as responsible citizens of India, to practice social distancing and staying safe by staying home. The fight against Covid-19 is not over. Every citizen is a soldier in the fight against Covid-19. As we go about our daily lives in a changed world, let us remember to say a prayer for all those who have lost their lives to Covid-19 and for all those who are fighting for their lives in hospitals. Let us also not forget to pray for all the frontline workers who are putting their lives at risk everyday so that we can stay safe. India will emerge victorious out of this crisis. As PM Modi had rightly mentioned, “The 21st century belongs to India.”
Stay home, stay safe.
Imna Longkumer.

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