My dear brothers and sisters,
The global pandemic of COVID-19, a viral flu, has cost thousands of lives and made thousands more sick. It has brought the world to a grinding halt.
As humanity faces its gravest challenge in recent decades, it is a time for the world to reflect on what we must do right, from now on. While India joins the community of nations to tackle the pandemic, this requires us to take effective steps within our country to contain the disease, so we can save lives and ensure a secure future for all.
I am aware of the massive impact this viral outbreak has on the lives and livelihoods of crores of people. On behalf of the nation, I extend our gratitude to every street vendor and vegetable seller, and small traders, who provide us fresh food every day. I profusely thank every doctor and nurse involved in securing our health. Every Safai Karmachari deserves our deepest gratitude for keeping our villages, towns and cities clean and healthy.
I thank on behalf of all of us every bus, train and taxi driver, and those who keep our public transport systems functional, so we can travel in safety. I am deeply grateful to every soldier who, unmindful of the risks, are defending our security in these testing times. And in the same way think of every police person working long hours to maintain law and order, respectful of our human rights. Every person working in public and private sectors, every student and elder, is in my thoughts, as we brace up to overcome this pandemic.
I have spoken with each and every Chief Minister and Lt. Governor, and assured them that Government of India will back fully, and tirelessly, their efforts to tackle this epidemic. As a nation that thrives on federated governance, we must value our deeply democratic traditions and work together to overcome this challenge. States must lead the way and the Centre will back them to the hilt. At the same time, Local Governments are the frontline warriors in this campaign against this epidemic, and we must take the opportunity to strengthen them and ensure they are functioning optimally to keep our villages and cities healthy and productive.
Tonight, I come before you to announce certain steps we need to take as a nation, so we can tackle this epidemic on a war footing and ensure we come out of this crisis stronger. I am directing these actions with due consultation with the Union Council of Ministers and the consent of all Chief Ministers and Lt. Governors.
1. The Union Health Ministry will constantly develop guidelines to tackle the epidemic in collaboration with World Health Organisation and Indian Council for Medical Research. These guidelines will be reached to each and every Panchayat and Ward across the country, so that ground level workers are empowered with the most up-to-date knowledge of how to tackle the epidemic and guide the public at large effectively.
2. All State Governments and Union Territories will ensure all public hospitals (primary, secondary and tertiary) are fully functional and treat everyone who comes seeking treatment and care. Specialised public hospitals will also prepare plans to assist general care hospitals in meeting this challenge. No person will be turned back for want of access to a health facility.
3. All Private hospitals with a bed strength of over 20 will be required to set aside 30% of their beds to attend to COVID infected persons with immediate effect, at prices regulated by the Union Health Ministry. If essential, State Health Departments through their district level functionaries can increase demand of the proportion of beds from private health providers on a need basis. On the basis of a fortnightly review, this demand may be revoked.
4. There will be dynamic communication between the Union Health Ministry, State Departments of Health and the ground level health units (private and public) to report on new cases, how it is being dealt with, and to ensure there are no information gaps. This quality of communication is critical to ensure infections are contained and those in need of help will be attended to with urgency. To ensure there are no communication failures, internet access to all health units across the country are declared free henceforth. Public and private internet operators who provide internet services will be compensated by the Dept. of Telecom.
5. Every District/Metropolitan Planning Committee (constituted per Articles 243ZD/E of the Indian Constitution) shall within a period of a week develop a district level action plan to tackle COVID outbreak, keeping in mind the steps proposed would help develop strategies to secure public health in future. These plans will be forwarded to the nodal Departments and the State Finance Commissions, so the cost of supporting a country-wide action to secure health of all can be assessed. If necessary, I am willing to request an Emergency meeting of the Parliament to approve a Special Health Budget Package to tackle the epidemic, and to ensure the investment will ensure Health for All becomes a reality.
6. It has been widely acknowledged that movement of people is a major cause of the transmission of the disease. In order that we can minimize travel within districts and across states, for the next three weeks, all forms of public transport (road, rail and air) will be limited to essential travel as per guidelines issues by Union Ministry of Transport. Domestic and international air travel will be restricted for the next three weeks only to highly essential travel, with airline and shipping operators given the responsibility of establishing due necessity as per guidelines issued by Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.
7. As and when essential, District Commissioners may decide if a district, or a part of the district, should be placed under lockdown to block spread of infections, and with appropriate reasoning.
8. All public institutions and public sector enterprises, voluntary sector and corporate organization with a staff strength of over 50, will be on notice to assist public health and welfare measures in tackling this epidemic effectively.
9. The Union Finance Ministry will work with Reserve Bank of India and all banks and financial institutions to recover Non Performing Assets within a period of three months, so the money recovered is available to States and Local Governments to build our public health systems. I have requested the Union Finance Minister to list out the top 50 offenders and ensure they are immediately tackled to recover bad debts, so the maximum benefit of this financial recovery is made available for public welfare.
10. I have requested Union Human Resources Development Ministry to work with State Education Department to develop appropriate communications to each and every student of this country, explaining to them the need to postpone exams, and how the country will safeguard their futures. As a part of this measure, all student loan payments are suspended for the next three months, and without any additional interest.
11. All leave of the Central and State Government employees will be cancelled for the next two weeks, and this date may be extended if the situation so demands. They will be required to assist governmental efforts on demand. Each department will also develop a policy for their work so that they can work safely, if possible from home, on staggered hours, and as the situation warrants.
12. All families below poverty line, and those who work with the small and medium enterprises, small businesses, small and marginal farmers, fisher communities and adivasis, will be assisted with a special economic package so that they do not suffer during this period of slowdown of our economy. This will include extending special pay without work for a period of 30 days.
13. I have also requested the Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, and their central and state environmental regulatory instrumentalities, to suspend all environmental clearance according activities for a period of a month from today. During this period, all clearances accorded over the past five years for developmental projects will reviewed to ensure they are not adversely affecting our forests and ecologically sensitive areas, keeping in mind the fact that such epidemics could be a direct result of subordinating environment and health to economic imperatives. I have advised them, as I have advised all Union Ministers, to ensure that, henceforth, their activities will meet the standards set in Article 39 of the Constitution of India.
14. I also would like to share with you that I will be meeting with the Daadis and others who are at Shaheen Bagh, to request them to defer their protests, and to also assure them that the Government of India is most willing to listen to their concerns. In this regard, I have requested the Union Home Minister to join me in this visit, so we can work out an harmonious solution. I would like to assure the people of India, that the Government of India is theirs, and if they decide our actions are not within the bounds of Constitutionality, we must listen and correct ourselves.
15. Accordingly, I have requested the Union Home Minister to keep on hold activities relating to NRC and NPR until we can come to terms with its implications, and have requested the matter be comprehensively enquired into by a Joint Parliamentary Committee and a report tabled in Parliament during the Monsoon session. I have also requested Chief Ministers to meet with any group or community who feel they are marginalized or believe they are losing their fundamental rights, so they can be assured the Government of India has only one intention – to take us all forward together. When we join the community of nations to tackle a global pandemic, we must first all be together and look out for each other, celebrating our diversities.
Brothers and sisters, I acknowledge that these measures should have been in place much earlier. We did not need this epidemic to remind ourselves of our responsibility to each other, and to future generations. However, we have now woken up as a nation and we shall work together and step forward in unity, with amity and to safeguard our individual health and collective progress.
Prime Minister of India
The text and video of the actual speech given by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Here’s the full text of PM Modi’s address on fighting coronavirus:My dear fellow citizens, the whole world is currently passing through a period of very serious crisis. Normally, when a natural crisis strikes, it is limited to a few countries or states. However, this time the calamity is such that it has it has put all of mankind in crisis. World Wars 1 and 2 did not impact as many countries, as have been affected by corona today.Over the last two months, we are continuously observing and hearing of grave corona virus related news. In these two months, the 130 crore citizens of India have ably dealt with the global corona pandemic and have exercised due caution.However, in the past few days, it is appearing as if we have averted the crisis, and everything is okay. Complacency in respect of a global pandemic like corona is not appropriate. Therefore, it is essential that each and every Indian remains alert and cautious.
Friends, whenever I asked you for something, you have never let me down. Our efforts succeed, only on the strength of your blessings.Today, I am here to ask you, all my fellow citizens, for something. I want your coming few weeks from you, your time in the near future.Friends, till now, science has not been able to find a definite solution to save us from the corona pandemic, neither has a vaccine been developed. In such a situation, it is very natural to get worried.Study of the countries most affected by corona virus has revealed another aspect. In these countries, the spread of the disease has witnessed almost an explosion after the initial few days. The number of people infected by corona has grown at a rapid pace. Government of India is constantly keeping a close watch on this situation, and this track record of the spread of corona.Although there are a few countries which have controlled the situation by taking swift decisions and isolating its people as much as possible.This burgeoning crisis of corona, is not an ordinary occurrence for a nation like India with a population of 130 crore, striving for development.Therefore, as we witness the wide-spread impact of the corona pandemic even in major, developed countries today, it is wrong to assume that India will not be impacted by it.Hence, it is imperative to keep two key factors in mind in order to combat this global pandemic – Determination and Patience. Today, all 130 crore fellow citizens of Indians will have to further strengthen our resolve to overcome this global crisis, fulfilling all our duties as citizens, and abiding by the directions given by the Central and State governments. Today, we must all resolve to not get infected ourselves, and prevent others as well from getting infected.Friends, during such a pandemic, only one mantra can take us through – ‘Hum Swasth, toh Jag Swasth’, that is the world will be healthy, if we stay healthy. In a situation like this, where there is no known cure for the disease, it is imperative that we stay healthy. Patience is an essential virtue to avoid this disease, and keep oneself healthy. And how does one practice patience? By staying away from crowds and gatherings, avoiding leaving your homes. This is called ‘Social Distancing’ nowadays, and is critical in these times of the global corona pandemic.Our determination and patience will play a crucial role in containing the impact of this global pandemic. It is wrong if you believe that you are okay and nothing can happen to you, and you can continue roaming around in markets and streets as usual and remain unaffected. By doing this, you will not only be unjust to yourself but also to your family.Keeping this is mind, I appeal to you all that for the next few weeks, step-out of your homes only when absolutely necessary. As far as possible, try and do your work, whether related to business or job, from home.While it is essential that those who are in government services, healthcare services, people’s representatives, media personnel remain active. Everybody else must however, isolate themselves from the rest of society.
I also appeal that the elderly, senior citizens and those above 65 years of age in our families, not leave homes for the next few weeks. Today’s generation may not be very familiar with this, but in the olden times, blackout was observed at night during wartime. This would at times go on for prolonged periods. Several times, there would also be blackout drills.Friends, today, I request my fellow citizens for support on one more issue, that of people’s curfew. People’s curfew means a curfew imposed for the people, by the people, on the people themselves.This Sunday, that is on 22nd March, all citizen must abide by this people’s curfew from 7 AM until 9 PM. During this curfew, we shall neither leave our homes, nor get onto the streets or roam about our localities. Only those associated with emergency and essential services will leave their homes.Friends, 22nd March will be a symbol of our effort, of our self-restraint, and our resolve to fulfil our duty in service of the nation. The success of a people’s curfew on 22nd March, and the experience gained from it, will also prepare us for our upcoming challenges.I urge all state governments to take leadership in ensuring compliance of this people’s curfew.I also request the youth of our nation, organizations like NCC, NSS, civil society, as well as other organizations of all types to spread awareness about this people’s curfew over the next 2 days.I would appeal to every individual to if possible, call at least 10 people on the phone every day, explaining to them how to protect themselves from the virus as well as the idea of people’s curfew.This people’s curfew will in a way be a litmus test for us, for our nation. This is also the time to see and test how prepared India is for fighting off a corona like global pandemic.Friends, in the midst of all these efforts of the people’s curfew on 22nd March, I would also like to seek your support on one more matter on that day. For the past 2 months, lakhs of our people have been working day and night in our Hospitals and Airports.From doctors to nurses, hospital staff, sanitation workers, airlines employees, government staff, police personnel, media people, people associated with train-bus-auto rickshaw services, and home delivery agents; all have been selflessly serving others, without caring about themselves.In the current circumstances, these services cannot be considered to be ordinary. Today, these people run the risk of getting infected themselves. Yet, they continue to fulfil their duties, serving others. As defenders of the nation, they stand firmly between us and the corona pandemic. The nation is grateful to them all.
I wish that on Sunday, 22nd March, we express our gratitude to all such people. On Sunday at exactly 5 pm, we all stand at the doors, balconies, windows of our homes, and give them all a 5-minute standing ovation. We clap our hands, beat our plates, ring our bells to boost their morale, salute their service.
To inform people about this, I request local authorities across the country to ring a siren at 5 pm on 22nd March.We must with full sincerity, express our feelings towards all such fellow citizens who have lived by our value-system of ‘Seva Parmo Dharma’, that is Service being the highest Duty.Friends, in such times of crisis, we also need to be aware that the burden on our essential services, our hospitals, is continuously increasing.I thus, urge you to as much as possible, avoid going to the hospital for routine check-ups. When necessary, you could get the required guidance over phone from your known local doctor, family doctor, or some relative who is a doctor. In case you have a non-essential, elective surgery scheduled, I would urge you to postpone it by a month.Friends, this global pandemic is also going to have a wide-ranging impact on the economy. Keeping in mind the economic challenges arising from the corona virus, the government has decided to set up a Covid-19 Economic Response Task Force under the leadership of the Finance Minister.This Task Force will take decisions in the near future, based on regular interactions and feedback from all stakeholders, and analysis of all situations and dimensions. This Task Force will also ensure that all steps taken to reduce the economic difficulties are effectively implemented.It is clear that this pandemic is deeply hurting the economic interests and well-being of our nation’s middle class, lower-middle class, and poor segments.
In such a time of crisis, I request the business world and high income segments of society to as much as possible, look after the economic interests of all the people who provide them services. In the coming few days it is possible these people may not be able to come to office or your homes. In such a case, do treat them with empathy and humanity and not deduct their salaries. Always keep in mind that they too need to run their homes, protect their families from illness.I would like to reassure all Indians that all steps necessary are being taken to ensure there is no shortage of essential items like milk, groceries and medicines. I thus urge all my fellow citizens to make purchases as normal, and not hoard essential items in Panic Buying.Friends, over the past 2 months, 130 crore Indians, each and every citizen, has taken on this national crisis as one’s own and done whatever possible for society and the nation. I have full faith that you will in a similar manner, continue to carry out your responsibilities and duties in the time to come.Yes, I acknowledge that many difficulties arise in such times, and there is an environment of apprehensions and rumours. Many a times, our expectations as citizens is also not fulfilled. However, this crisis is so grave, that all fellow citizens must face these challenges with firm resolve and determination, amidst all these difficulties.Friends, we need to put in all our capacity and capability in protecting ourselves from the corona virus. Whether it be the Central government, State governments, local authorities, panchayats, people’s representatives or civil societies; everyone is contributing in their own way in the fight against this global pandemic. You too, must give your full contribution!It is critical that in this environment of a global pandemic, humanity emerges victorious, India emerges victorious!The festival of Navratri is coming up in a few days. This is a festival of worshipping ‘Shakti’. That India moves ahead with full Shakti, full Strength and Energy, is my heartfelt wish to one and all.
Many, many thanks!