Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation for the fifth time over the Coronavirus crisis on 12 May 2020. He glorified India’s COVID-19 response and efforts made by the citizens to support the Coronavirus lockdown. PM Modi announced an economic package of 20 lakh crore to establish a self-reliant economy in the country. He also called on citizens to be “vocal about local“, as India moves to establish a local supply chain to serve global demand.
Coronavirus count in India stood at more than 73,500 as Prime Minister Modi’s speech broke the news of lockdown 4.0. The country reacted positively over the economic package announcement and a modified lockdown extension. Some experts claimed that PM Modi’s announcement is in line with the global agenda to move major supply chains out of China after COVID-19 outbreak. Officials from USA, Japan, and other countries have earlier hinted to move dependence from Chinese resources.
PM Modi’s speech came a day after he chaired a meeting with Chief Ministers from all Indian states to get their inputs on further lockdown measures. Many chief ministers advocated extending the nationwide lockdown while some other shined light on the economic impact of Coronavirus as death toll in the country crossed 2,100.
The PM started his speech with global Coronavirus where he mentioned how globally more than 42 lakh people have been infected by Coronavirus and 275,000 have lost their lives to it. He seemed to make citizens aware of the harsh reality of the pandemic and its global effect. He then paid condolences to the families who have suffered due to Coronavirus in India and who have lost their loved ones to the pandemic.
He then highlighted India’s potential in the 21st century if the country starts working on self-reliance. He announced the Atma-nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (or Self-reliant India Mission) to make India capable of serving its local and global supply chain needs. “Self-reliance is the only way to take the dream of making India great forward”, PM Modi said during his speech.
Recalling the devastation in Kutch, Gujarat after the 2002 earthquake, PM Modi said that the area was built back with hard work and determination. He emphasized on young human potential in the country that could serve as a backbone for development.
PM Modi also introduced five pillars of India’s self-reliance plan–
We have to strengthen all the five pillars so that they support each other, he said.
He then announced the 20 lakh crore economic package that will be given out to support India’s dream of a self-reliant economy. The total package amount is about 10% of India’s GDP. It includes existing efforts made by the finance ministry and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to introduce liquidity into the economy. After deducting existing contributions by finance ministry and RBI, PM Modi seems to have announced a new funding of only 12 lakh crore.
However, the details about the economic package will be revealed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday, May 13, 2020.
The Prime Minister also said that Lockdown 4.0, starting on May 18, will be different with totally new guidelines and measures. Details about the next phase will be announced by relevant authorities before 18 May 2020.
The speech came at a time when India’s national AIrline announced it had rescued over 6000 nationals in Phase 1 of the massive ‘Vande Bharat Mission’.
Vande Bharat Mission: Over 6000 Indians evacuated in Phase 1
India is conducting massive rescue operation to bring back stranded Indians from across the world. Under the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, thousands of Indian nationals will be brought back from 7 May to 13 May 2020. Several big personalities including artists, actors, and sportspersons have praised the government and Air India for conducting rescue of stranded Indians amid Coronavirus travel restrictions.
Prime Minister Modi has made clear how India will move forward on the economic front of COVID-19 war. However, it is still not known what will the government do to contain the growing cases in the country.