Skip to main content

Prime Minister’s speech people of India wished they could hear at 8 pm yesterday

PM addressing the nation on March 19. Click here to listen
By Leo Saldanha*
My dear brothers and sisters,
The global pandemic of COVID-19, a viral flu, has cost thousands of lives and made thousands more sick. It has brought the world to a grinding halt.
As humanity faces its gravest challenge in recent decades, it is a time for the world to reflect on what we must do right, from now on. While India joins the community of nations to tackle the pandemic, this requires us to take effective steps within our country to contain the disease, so we can save lives and ensure a secure future for all.
I am aware of the massive impact this viral outbreak has on the lives and livelihoods of crores of people. On behalf of the nation, I extend our gratitude to every street vendor and vegetable seller, and small traders, who provide us fresh food every day. I profusely thank every doctor and nurse involved in securing our health. Every Safai Karmachari deserves our deepest gratitude for keeping our villages, towns and cities clean and healthy.
I thank on behalf of all of us every bus, train and taxi driver, and those who keep our public transport systems functional, so we can travel in safety. I am deeply grateful to every soldier who unmindful of the risks are defending our security in these testing times. And in the same way think of every police person working long hours to maintain law and order respectful of our human rights. Every person working in public and private sectors, every student and elder, is in my thoughts, as we brace up to overcome this pandemic.
I have spoken with each and every Chief Minister and Lt. Governor, and assured them that Government of India will back fully and tirelessly their efforts to tackle this epidemic. As a nation that thrives on federated governance, we must value our deeply democratic traditions and work together to overcome this challenge. States must lead the way and the Centre will back them to the hilt. At the same time, Local Governments are the frontline warriors in this campaign against this epidemic, and we must take the opportunity to strengthen them and ensure they are function optimally to keep our villages and cities healthy and productive.
Tonight I come before you to announce certain steps we need to take as a nation, so we can tackle this epidemic on a war footing and ensure we come out of this crisis stronger. I am directing these actions with due consultation with the Union Council of Ministers and the consent of all Chief Ministers and Lt. Governors.
1. The Union Health Ministry will constantly develop guidelines to tackle the epidemic in collaboration with World Health Organisation and Indian Council for Medical Research. These guidelines will be reached to each and every Panchayat and Ward across the country, so that ground level workers are empowered with the most up-to-date knowledge of how to tackle the epidemic and guide the public at large effectively.
2. All State Governments and Union Territories will ensure all public hospitals (primary, secondary and tertiary) are fully functional and treat everyone who comes seeking treatment and care. Specialised public hospitals will also prepare plans to assist general care hospitals in meeting this challenge. No person will be turned back for want of access to a health facility.
3. All private hospitals with a bed strength of over 20 will be required to set aside 30% of their beds to attend to COVID infected persons with immediate effect, at prices regulated by the Union Health Ministry. If essential, State Health Departments through their district level functionaries can increase demand of the proportion of beds from private healthy providers on a need basis. On the basis of a fortnightly review, this demand may be revoked.
4. There will be dynamic communication between the Union Health Ministry, State Departments of Health and the ground level health units (private and public) to report on new cases, how it is being dealt with, and to ensure there are no information gaps. This quality of communication is critical to ensure infections are contained and those in need of help will be attended to with urgency. To ensure there are no communication failures, internet access to all health units across the country are declared free henceforth. Public and private internet operators who provide internet services will be compensated by the Dept. of Telecom.
5. Every District/Metropolitan Planning Committee (constituted per Articles 243ZD/E of the Indian Constitution) shall within a period of a week develop a district level action plan to tackle COVID outbreak, keeping in mind the steps proposed would help develop strategies to secure public health in future. These plans will be forward to the nodal Departments and the State Finance Commissions, so the cost of support a country-wide action to secure health of all can be assessed. If necessary, I am willing to request an emergency meeting of the Parliament to approve a Special Health Budget Package to tackle the epidemic, and to ensure the investment will ensure Health for All becomes a reality.
I will request Parliament to approve Special Health Budget to tackle the epidemic and to ensure Health for All becomes a reality
6. It has been widely acknowledged that movement of people is a major cause of the transmission of the disease. In order that we can minimize travel within districts and across states, for the next three weeks all forms of public transport (road, rail and air) will be limited to essential travel as per guidelines issues by Union Ministry of Transport. Domestic and international air travel will be restricted for the next three weeks only to highly essential travel, with airline and shipping operators given the responsibility of establishing due necessity as per guidelines issued by Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.
7. As and when essential, District Commissioner may decide if a district, or a part of the district, should be placed under lockdown to block spread of infections, and with appropriate reasoning.
8. All public institutions and public sector enterprises, voluntary sector and corporate organization with a staff strength of over 50, will be on notice to assist public health and welfare measures in tackling this epidemic effectively.
Leo Saldanha
9. The Union Finance Ministry will work with Reserve Bank of India and all banks and financial institutions to recover Non Performing Assets within a period of three months, so the money recovered is available to States and Local Governments to build our public health systems. I have requested the Union Finance Minister to list out the top 50 offenders and ensure they are immediately tackled to recover bad debts, so the maximum benefit fo this financial recovery is made available for public welfare.
10. I have requested Union Human Resources Development Ministry to work with State Education Department to develop appropriate communications to each and every student of this country, explaining to them the need to postpone exams, and how the country will safeguard their futures. As a part of this measure, all student loan payments are suspended for the next three months, and without any additional interest.
11. All leave of the Central and State Government employees will be cancelled for the next two weeks, and this date may be extended if the situation so demands. They will be required to assist governmental efforts on demand. Each department will also develop a policy for their work so that they can work safely, if possible from home, on staggered hours, and as the situation warrants.
12. All families below poverty line, and those who work with the small and medium enterprises, small businesses, small and marginal farmers, fisher communities and adivasis, will be assisted with a special economic package so that they do not suffer during this period of slowdown of our economy. This will include extending special pay without work for a period of 30 days.
13. I have also requested the Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, and their central and state environmental regulatory instrumentalities, to suspend all clearance according activities for a period of a month from today. During this period, all clearances accorded over the past five years for developmental projects will reviewed to ensure they are not adversely affecting our forests and ecologically sensitive areas, keeping in mind the fact that such epidemics could be a direct result of subordinating environment and health to economic imperatives. I have advised them, as I have advised all Union Ministers, to ensure that henceforth their activities will meet the standards set in Article 39 of the Contitution of India.
14. I also would like to share with you that I will be meeting with the Daadis and others who are at Shaheen Bagh, to request them to defer their protests, and to also assure them that the Government of India is most willing to listen to their concerns. In this regard, I have requested the Union Home Minister to join me in this visit, so we can work out an harmonious solution. I would like to assure the people of India, that the Government of India is theirs, and if they so decide our actions are not within the bounds of Constitutionality, we must listen and correct ourselves.
15. Accordingly, I have requested the Union Home Minister to keep on hold activities relating to NRC and NPR until we can come to terms with its implications, and have requested the matter be comprehensively enquired into by a Joint Parliamentary Committee and a report tabled in Parliament during the Monsoon session. I have also requested Chief Ministers to meet with any group or community who feel they are marginalized or believe they are losing their fundamental rights, so they can be assured the Government of India has only one intention – to take us all forward together. When we join the community of nations to tackle a global pandemic, we must first all be together and look out for each other, celebrating our diversities.
Brothers and sisters, I acknowledge that these measures should have been in place much earlier. We did not need this epidemic to remind ourselves of our responsibility to each other, and to future generations. However, we have now woken up as a nation and we shall work together and step forward in unity, with amity and to safeguard our individual health and collective progress.
Jai Hind
---
* With the Bengaluru-based Environment Support Group. Source: Blog Public Matters. Click here to listen to PM's address to the nation

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They

Govt of India 'compromising' on mandate to regulate gene technologies, protect nature

Counterview Desk  In a letter sent to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and other related ministries and departments, the Coalition for a GM-Free India has raised "serious concern" over the guidelines notified for Genome Edited Organisms, in which major exemptions from regulations have been offered to certain categories of Genome Edited Organisms/Plants and products. A letter signed by Sridhar Radhakrishnan and Kapil Shah, co-convenors of the NGO network, addressed to Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Bhupender Yadav, said, the Office Memorandum, dated May 17, 2022 of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology about Safety Assessment Guidelines, which follows the Office Memorandum dated March 30, 2022 of the MoEFCC, said, the move "essentially amounts to entry of risky GMOs through the backdoor. Text : Coalition for a  GM-Free India is a national volunteer-driven platform of hundre

A Marxian trend that queries undemocratic customs and traditions of capitalism

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  A very well-meaning comrade called me a pluriversal Marxist with a wild smile full of English irony, while chairing my book release function in the Marx Memorial Library, London. I dedicate this piece to her… There is no other philosopher who is more abused and misunderstood like Marx. There is no other philosophy like Marxism which is more demonised on a regular basis. The mindless vilification campaign against Marx and Marxism continues without any form of reason. The propaganda and portrayal of Marxism as a devilish doctrine signify its importance as a philosophy of human emancipation from the very forces who demonise it. Marxism is a philosophy of praxis which helps us to understand the centrality of creative power of labour in producing socially meaningful value. It helps us to analyse the laws governing production, distribution, consumption, exchange, market, profit, pricing and private property in the development of class-based society. As a humanist p