With its daily case count scaling new highs practically every day over the past one-and-a-half months amidst news and concerns about the shortage of vaccines and medical-grade oxygen, India is facing an unprecedented level of challenge thanks to the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. There is no denying it.
However, in the meanwhile, many sections of the media – particularly the Western ones – have been churning out reams of reports and opinion pieces accusing the Narendra Modi government and the Prime Minister himself of being largely responsible for the presently precarious situation of India.
What they utterly, and perhaps deliberately, fail to understand is that such blaming and shaming does no good to anyone or anything. In no way does it contribute to resolving the problem at hand. If anything, it heightens unrest and anxiety among the public at a time when there is no need or space for that. Criticism, unless constructive, is useless.
The focus should instead be on what Prime Minister Modi and his government are doing to get the nation out of this crisis.
Over the past two weeks, the Prime Minister has held nearly two dozen official meetings with stakeholders from all over – whether it be regional and international political leaders or experts from various spheres – focusing exclusively on how to manage the pandemic in the best possible way and with minimum damage.
Make no mistake, these meetings have yielded results.
For instance, as part of its efforts to plug the shortage of medical oxygen – a crucial requirement for critical Covid patients – the Modi government has allowed the import of oxygen concentrators under the ‘gift item’ category, exempting them from customs duty. A couple of days ago, Prime Minister Modi approved the procurement of 1 lakh portable oxygen concentrators from the PM Cares Fund for distribution among the worst-hit states of the country. These moves will also go a long way in controlling the price of these vital medical devices that had been going up due to their limited supply and rapidly rising demand amidst the second Covid wave.
India Railways’ Oxygen Express trains have been efficiently delivering hundreds of metric tonnes of liquid medical oxygen to all states that had been facing a shortage of the life-saving gas, from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has relaxed several compliance norms for listed companies and market stakeholders, starting from extending deadlines for filing of financial results, to permitting the use of digital signature certifications for authentication of submissions to the stock exchanges, to relaxing requirements for uploading of Know Your Customer (KYC) application forms, among other things.
Thanks to Prime Minister Modi’s stellar diplomatic record and gestures over the years, which have undoubtedly boosted India’s standing in the world, our nation is receiving strong support from the international community. While the United States has begun providing US$100 million worth of Covid assistance in the form of oxygen cylinders, oxygen generators, rapid testing kits and N95 masks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised PM Modi all support, including providing millions of doses of Sputnik V Covid vaccines from the beginning of this month. Equally solid assurances of help have come from the European Union and the Commonwealth Nations as well.
With so many Covid cases and deaths, things may still seem gloomy for India as it kicks off the third phase of its vaccination campaign today – but let us not let anyone deny us the light at the end of the tunnel.