“Lowering of guard is not an option,” the PM said as he referred to the plan for full resumption of rail and domestic air travel and reopening of a “substantial chunk” of the economy.
“Much has resumed, Shramik Special trains are operational, other special trains too have begun. With utmost precautions, flights have resumed, industry too is returning to normalcy, thus opening up a major segment of the economy. In such a scenario, we need to be even more alert and careful. There should be no laxity on our part in complete adherence,” Modi said in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’.
Asking for continuing adherence to distancing and hygiene norms so that the gains from the lockdown are not lost, the PM said relaxation of restrictions did not mean that the fear of the pandemic was over. He added that citizens should be aware that they and their families continue to be at risk from the highly infectious disease about which little is known.
The address saw the PM focusing on the sufferings of migrant workers and the backwardness of eastern India, from where most migrate to other parts. He said while all sections of society had suffered because of the pandemic, the poor and workers were hurt the most. “Their agony, their pain, their ordeal cannot be expressed in words. Who amongst us cannot understand and feel what they and their families are going through? All of us are trying to share their distress; the torment… the entire country is doing that,” he said.
Modi said workers were forced to migrate because of backwardness of eastern India. “Today, the distress our workforce is undergoing is representative of that of the country’s eastern region. The very region which possesses the capacity to be the country’s growth engine, whose workforce possesses the capability and the might to take the country to greater heights… the eastern region needs development,” he said, referring to eastern UP, Bihar and West Bengal, where maximum migrants returned.
“Considering the migrant labourers,” the PM said, “the need of the hour is devising a new solution, a paradigm, we are ceaselessly taking steps in that direction. For example, at places, skill mapping of labourers is being carried out; at other places, startups are engaged in doing the same. The establishment of a migration commission is being deliberated upon.”
Modi began and ended his address on a cautionary note, saying adherence to safety measures was important, all the more so after so many hardships. “We must not let this fight weaken. Becoming careless or lackadaisical cannot be an option. The fight against corona is still serious,” he said.
“We have to save the life of every human being, therefore distancing of two yards (do gaz ki doori), face masks and washing of hands are all precautions that are to be meticulously followed in the same manner as we have been observing so far,” he added, pointing to the gains which he said were significant given India’s population and resources.