When the Prime Minister addresses the nation, big revelations are generally expected. But Narendra Modi’s address on Tuesday carried little more than a promise that the nation is all set to reach the vaccines against Covid-19 pandemic in the coming few months and the usual advice to people to help check the virus spread and not be lax. He stressed that while the days of the lockdown are over, the pandemic is still on a roll. The PM’s promise is that when the vaccine arrives, everyone will get it in a planned, phased and fast manner. The government is already making arrangements for storage, transportation and distribution of the vaccine in a safe mode.
Notably, this was the seventh nationally televised address to the nation by the PM since March last when he shut down the nation for three weeks at a stretch, followed by a series of lockdowns. The way forward is to live with the pandemic for now and see it away through resort to vaccines and observance of Covid protocols.
While the PM’s address confined itself to Covid-control, what many expected was also a reference to the building up of tension along the northern border region. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was right in urging the PM to enlighten the nation on when the PM “is going to drive out the Chinese” from the land it occupied in recent incursions in Ladakh region. This might bring back memories of the large swathes of land in Chinese occupation since the 1962 War, when India stood back stunned. There has been no effort to get back those territories by successive governments. Under PM Modi’s term, engagements with China on friendly terms reached its zenith only to witness an about-turn and new offensive from China in recent months.
On the Covid scene, however, there were reassurances from the PM about the positives vis-à-vis the Indian scene; that the recovery rate is among the highest in the world and deaths are relatively less so far. The festival season being close at hand, a word of caution from the PM alerts the citizens about the need to maintain the social distancing and other norms, like wearing of masks. This is more so as the season of festivals is approaching and the general tendency is to crowd around in public places.
A reassurance from the PM is that the days of lockdown are over. The economy needs a push up from the bottom to which it has sunk and normal activities must resume on all fronts.