R. K. Sinha Opposition leaders were demanding testing of more and more people. It was okay.Were the people ready for it?Besides, where were testing kits. At that time we did not have a single Personal Protective Equipment or Personal Protective Armor or “PPE”, which doctors and medical staff wear during treatment of infectious diseases. PPE was not being made in the country. The N95 face mask, which is able to prevent 95 percent infection, was used only at some places like laboratories. Therefore, the Prime Minister chose lockdown. However, the lockout could not be completely successful. This was probably because it is a large country where there is such a large population, and the density rate is high and a large number of people are semi-literate or uneducated. Yet at least 90 to 95 percent of the lockout has been successful due to administrative and police efficiency. Despite having such a large population, India has emerged as the country where least damage has been done due to corona. On Tuesday evening, the Prime Minister said very inspiring and interesting thing in his address to the nation. He said that this is a big challenge. It may last long and lockdown-4, i.e the lockout after May 18, may be unavoidable.But that will be different. He meant to say that we will now return to work but with caution.Violation will not be tolerated. The Prime Minister said that “Self-reliant India Scheme” is being launched to turn this challenge into an opportunity. A huge financial package is being announced in connection with this scheme, which is worth Rs 20 lakh crores. This means about Rs 15,384 for each citizen. Till date, no Prime Minister in the country could think of such a large package. What was the reason for this? The reason is very simple. Excepting two,no Prime Ministers had seen poverty and hunger and had struggled hard to rise and move forward. The first was Lal Bahadur Shastri and the second is Narendra Modi. The rest of the Prime Ministers were born in families which had never seen poverty and hunger. That is why the Prime Minister talked not only about farmers, labourers, small industries but also about street vendors, handlers, cattle rearers, vegetable growers and sanitation workers. This Rs 20 lakh crore package will benefit all. The finance minister will give full details of the measures proposed in this regard. But, this is a very big package.It will open avenues for the country’s economic progress. The Prime Minister gave two-three examples to explain why he thought that we can turn this challenge into an opportunity.First , the Prime Minister said that if any work is done with determination success is ensured. He said that on the day the lockout was started in the country, not a single PPE was made in India and N95 face masks were also not made by many. That too in small quantity. Today the situation is that India has not only been able to make both these products, but is also ready to export. Today, 2 million PPE and 2 lakh N95 grade face masks are being made in the country every day.The Prime Minister gave another example of Bhuj in Gujarat. Bhuj was completely destroyed in 2002.There is no appropriate word to describe that kind of earthquake. Those days I was myself associated with many institutes which were involved in relief work. I used to go to Bhuj. The condition of Bhuj was terrible. There was nothing left there. Today you go to Jamnagar. If you go to any area of Bhuj which was affected by earthquake, you will see a sea change. In no other place you will see village, town or city so developed in the country. Today Bhuj is making all round progress. The entire Kutch region is progressing. There the challenge has been turned into opportunity. Prime Minister gave these examples because of these reasons. The Prime Minister has said another good thing. He has said that it was the local supply chain, handled by small businessmen, which has protected our lives. They brought us food, fruits, vegetables, milk other things. That is why the Prime Minister said we will have to be vocal on the local.We will have to depend on local manufacturers,local suppliers instead of international brands.We will have to respect them.We will have to publicise them and tell every one that they are better than every one else.Even the international companies had made small beginnings.The people in those places popularised them and they became brands.We can do the same for our products.Unity is the need of the hour.We have to work together to make a better and self-reliant India.The future belongs to us.We can make India the country of the century if we rise to the occasion and push hard. (The writer is a Senior Editor, columnist and former MP)
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