In a clear message to the Chief Ministers that Indians must plan for the new world reality, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that public activities should be increased while reducing the chances of the transmission of coronavirus.
“We can now further focus our strategy in this battle against coronavirus, as should be the case. We have a two-fold challenge — to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and increase public activity gradually, while adhering to all the guidelines. We will have to work towards achieving both these objectives,” the Prime Minister said while addressing the Chief Ministers of all the states through a video conference, the fifth after the Covid-19 outbreak.
Modi also stressed that all efforts should be made to stop the spread of Covid-19 to rural areas. By and large, rural India has fared better than urban India in the battle against Covid-19 so far. Modi also said that the states’ suggestions on a roadmap for economic rejuvenation have been given due consideration.
Several Chief Ministers pointed out that with the return of migrants, there is a need to concentrate on strict implementation of social distancing guidelines, usage of masks and sanitisation in order to curb the spread of Covid-19, especially in the rural areas.
Most of the CMs pointed towards the need to strengthen the medical and health infrastructure in the country. The CMs also highlighted the importance of compulsory quarantine for all those who have returned from abroad.
Giving their suggestions to improve the economy, the Chief Ministers sought support to MSMEs, infrastructure projects like power, easing of interest rates on loans and assured market access for agricultural produce.
In a significant statement, Modi said the world post the pandemic won’t be the same, just the way it wasn’t the same after the World Wars.
“Now the world will be pre-Corona and post-Corona. And this would entail significant changes in how we function,” he said.
While asking the CMs to be prepared for the new reality, Modi used the term “Jan Se Lekar Jag Tak” (from an individual to the whole of humanity), which he claimed to be the new way of life.
In the absence of a vaccine, he cautioned the CMs to enforce social distancing even though industries are being opened up. “As we look at the gradual withdrawal of the lockdown, we should constantly remember that till we do not find a vaccine or a solution, the biggest weapon with us to the fight the virus is social distancing,” Modi said.
Asking for state specific customised suggestions, the Prime Minister said, “I request you all to share with me by May 15 a broad strategy on how you each one of you would want to deal with the lockdown regime in your particular state. I want states to make a blueprint on how to deal with various nuances during and after the gradual easing of the lockdown.”
While a couple of Chief Ministers objected to the resumption of train services, the Prime Minister said that it was needed to boost economic activity, but maintained that all the routes won’t be resumed. Only a limited number of trains would operate, he said.
The Prime Minister didn’t give any clear indication as to will the lockdown be extended further. But will there be more relaxation? “Very likely,” he said.
“I am of the firm view that the measures needed in the first phase of lockdown were not needed during the second phase, and similarly the measures needed in the third phase are not needed in the fourth,” he said.
Thanking the Chief Ministers for sharing their experience, Modi said that India will fight the pandemic as a team.
This was Modi’s fifth interaction with the Chief Ministers since the imposition of the nationwide lockdown.