New Delhi, April 6
India's battle against the coronavirus pandemic will be a long one, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday while asking people to feel neither tired nor defeated and expressing confidence the country will emerge victorious in its fight.
Addressing BJP workers on the party's 40th foundation day, Modi also responded to the Opposition's criticism about his government's measures against COVID-19, asserting that India's efforts have set an example for the world and drawn praise from the World Health Organisation and leaders abroad.
India is among the countries which understood the seriousness of COVID-19 and launched a comprehensive and timely exercise to combat it, he said, adding that the country took one decision after another and worked to implement them on the ground.
Opposition leaders, including Congress' Rahul Gandhi, have claimed the central government did not respond in time to the virus.
Modi, who stressed on the need for wearing “face covers” outside the house, listed measures like the thermal screening of international passengers, evacuation of Indian nationals abroad and barring flights from certain countries and ramping up of medical infrastructure taken by his government.
The government, he said, took "proactive" decisions with help from experts and executed them in cooperation with states.
"The speedy and holistic manner with which India acted has drawn praise not from within the country but also from the WHO," the prime minister said and added that India played a "key role" in the holding of SAARC and G-20 meetings. Heads of different countries have appreciated India, he said, noting that it has been coordinating with different nations and he himself has been in touch with some of them.
However, the prime minister also made it clear that India is in for the long haul in the battle against the pandemic which has wreaked havoc in many countries, including deaths in thousands in developed nations like the US, Italy and France.
He described the seriousness and maturity shown by people during the lockdown as "unprecedented".
Nobody could have imagined that people will show such discipline and sense of service in a huge country like India, he said, adding that the nation's collective strength was on display on Sunday evening.
Referring to Sunday's exercise in which millions of households across the country switched off their lights and lit diyas, candles or turned on mobile torches, he said it prepared Indians for the long fight ahead.
"All sections of society; the rich and poor, the literate and illiterate, and people of various age groups, all joined hands to show this collective strength of 130 crore Indians. It further strengthened our resolve in this fight against the coronavirus," Modi said.
"This is going to be a long fight. We don't have to tire or feel defeated. We have to win in this long battle. We have to emerge victorious. Today, the nation's goal, mission and resolve are one, and this is to be victorious in this battle against the coronavirus pandemic," he added.
The 21-day nation-wide lockdown announced by Modi last month is set to end on April 14.
He urged BJP workers to follow his five-point suggestions, similar to what party president J P Nadda had said earlier.
They should ensure that no poor person goes hungry, the prime minister said.
He asked them to urge people to download the Aarogya Setu app, which informs and advises users about the coronavirus, distribute face covers and asked others to sign on thank you messages to emergency staff.
Asserting that the battle against the pandemic is no less than a war, he urged party workers to donate to the PM-CARES Fund and also encourage others to contribute to it to help his government's measures against the pandemic. PTI
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