How the leader of the world’s biggest, most diversified democracy, one who upholds the responsibility of 1.3 billion lives and almost one-sixth of humanity, should respond to a global pandemic situation?
As we are counting the number of Coronavirus confirmed cases and deaths every hour, it is important to acknowledge that a disease that spreads in the community will require strong community support to contain it. The world needs to acknowledge that to deal with this crisis, the values such as cooperation, compassion, collective efforts will remain indispensable.
Amid this global crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has successfully presented a model before the other democracies of the world to follow. As a champion of social reforms instead of imposing penalties and coercive restrictions on the community, he first decided to place his faith in the moral sensibilities of the common people. PM Modi appealed his citizens to follow a 14 hour long ‘Janta Curfew’ which he said: “will be a symbol of our effort, of our self-restraint, and our resolve to fulfill our duty in service of the nation.”
It takes enormous sensitivity to communicate the message of distancing to a society that is gregarious in nature. In Indian society the guest is perceived as God, ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, the social and religious gatherings form a part of their daily lives. Yet India’s Janta curfew (a curfew imposed for the people, by the people, on the people themselves) was overwhelming at many levels when over a billion voices cheered together for the doctors, nurses, hospital staff, sanitation workers, airlines employees, government staff, police personnel and other fellow citizens who are at the forefront of fighting this crucial battle. It may be surprising to many that instead of getting panicked, the people of India are relatively more prepared to face the challenges and this is the greatest achievement of Sh. Narendra Modi as a leader.
As early as from mid of January, India had put all its international airports on high alert and started thermal screenings, issued travel advisories, gradually initiated restrictions on travel and visa cancellations process too. Later India began initiating large-scale screening of passengers at the airports, set up a robust quarantine system and increased public awareness through campaigns on both print and social media. When two confirmed cases were reported in Kerala, the health emergency response model of the state was quickly initiated.
At the very beginning of his term, PM Modi coined the mantra of ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’ which is the guiding principle of every policy of the government. It is this principle of ‘Collective Efforts’ which inspired the idea of holding a joint meeting of SAARC nations to discuss the corona crisis. In his concluding remarks, Modi remarked “it is clear that we have to work together. We can respond best by- coming together not growing apart, collaboration not confusion, and preparation not panic.” The meeting received an overwhelming response from all SAARC nations.
It is often said that the time of crisis is a test for the character of any individual, society, and nation. Lockdown is not a routine activity for any country especially when it is almost equal to the size of a continent and which is passing through its ambitious development phase. Despite some setbacks, India's economy is in a better position to overcome this challenging time and credit for this goes to the basic character of the Indian society. Whenever a crisis occurs, the highly diversified society of India tends to exhibit its elements of unity and cooperation. The society didn't wait for any government orders to feed the poor, to provide help to the deprived in the society, it is an integral part of Indian’s moral social fabric. Millions of self-motivated individuals are ensuring that lockdown and social distancing should be followed with the utmost discipline but at the same time, the spirit of cooperation and collective efforts should remain intact too. Scenes of people fighting over food items in shopping malls in some wealthy western countries are very common these days but in India, the situation is completely different. Within a few days of the announcement of the lockdown, several community kitchens and shelters have been rolled out by the common people and social groups in the country and many have decided to continue their volunteer services till any further notice from the government. Common people are distributing the self-prepared kits of ration and other basic needs to the poor around them, taking care of the police and security agencies deployed in their societies, and many people are offering their private places as a quarantine facility to the government. All these are the self-motivated efforts of the individuals. On 28th March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the PM-CARES fund (Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund) and asked the people to make donations for combating, containment and relief efforts against coronavirus outbreak. Immediately after this announcement, from millions of common people with frugal means to businessmen, celebrities and politicians, everyone came forward and made generous donations from their sides.
In India the culture of giving back to society is not limited to businesses; the religious groups are also a partner in it. Several Hindu temples across the country, irrespective of their size, are helping the government agencies in whatever possible ways they can. The temples have closed the doors for the worshippers but initiated many parallel welfare services for the societies- from distributing food to medical emergency help. Many temples have opened up their complexes to the local governments for setting up quarantine and isolation facilities and are donating the huge sum of money in their state government’s relief funds too. One person’s act inspires the other and this is how the cycle of ‘Collective Efforts’ is progressing in India at this tough time of crisis. While there are countries like China that are determined to negate the idea of humanity itself, there is hope too and today India is leading that hope.
Devsena Mishra promotes advanced technologies, startup ecosystem and the Indian government’s business and technology-related initiatives. like Digital India, Make in India, Smart Cities, Startup India, etc. https://www.linkedin.com/in/devsenamishra/
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