How PM Modi announced lockdown with sternness and caution

Announcing the extension of lockdown, the Prime Minister came across as an inspiring figure.

 |  5-minute read |   14-04-2020
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The Rajput nobles under the patronage of Jaipur ruler Maharaja Jai Singh exchanged some very interesting letters among them when Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was under a three-month-long nazarqaid (detention) of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in Agra, in 1666.

Historian Jadunath Sarkar found out two such letters from Amer Fort in 1939. Both are equally interesting. In one of the letters, a noble named Tej Singh Kushwaha describes Shivaji in the words of another noble, Maha Singh Shekhawat. “Shivaji is very clever. He speaks the right words, after which nobody needs to say anything more on the subject. He tells us such appropriate things marked by the characteristic spirit of a Rajput, that if they are borne in mind, they will prove useful one day (for all of us),” Kushwaha wrote.

The other letter says, “Shivaji is a very high-souled man and a friend of people of virtue and righteousness.”

Both letters indicate that during this three-month period of nazarqaid, when Shivaji was free to roam around Agra and meet people, he left a deep impression on the Rajput nobility of Agra, drawn from across India, as an inspiring figure.

The Prime Minister's speech today extending the lockdown till May 3, his fourth since the coronavirus crisis began, reminds me of this description of Shivaji. Many acquaintances of Narendra Modi, who I have met over the past two decades, have repeatedly described him as “a great teacher who inspires by creating a sense of pride in you about your nation, about your people and about yourself by giving lessons in self-pride, sensitivity and discipline”. 

modiji_041420073018.jpgNarendra Modi inspires confidence among Indians.

When I recently went to meet BJP national general secretary Bhupender Yadav to present my book, he said, “When I see Modi ji’s innovative ways aimed at inculcating good habits in people with pride, he, to me, presents the picture of a great teacher.”

On Tuesday, announcing the extension of the nationwide lockdown, Narendra Modi came across as an inspiring figure. At a time when the nation is struggling to come to terms with the enormity of the corona crisis, the speech had all the three elements: inculcation of a sense of pride, lessons in disciple and need for sensitivity, which can help a person stand up to any crisis. The PM’s address gave the much-needed confidence that India will win the battle ultimately.

There have been many violations of the nationwide lockdown, like the one by Tablighi Jamaat members, whose actions dampened the morale of the countrymen in winning over the virus. Those who attended the Markaz event in Delhi’s Nizamuddin were not the only ones to not follow orders. Many others too flagrantly violated the norms.

But Modi knows that only positivity can help a vast nation like India surmount the monumental challenge. So, he chose to look at the positive side, overlooking the negativity, and succeeded in creating a sense of pride by saying: “We have fought corona with great strength and we have been successful so far. You, the people of India, Bharatvarsh, have saved the nation with your discipline and commitment. I bow before you on the Jayanti of Babasaheb Ambedkar, who taught us to surmount difficulties amid challenges.”

Having reminded the nation about Ambedkar on his birth anniversary, he moved towards instilling a sense of pride among people by giving a lowdown on how timely and successfully India moved against the coronavirus crisis as compared to great nations many times stronger than India.

Modi said, “Though no two countries are comparable, still we can say we are in control of the situation. Many of the nations struggling today were on the same plane as us 30 or 45 days ago, on the corona front. We owe it to our holistic and integrated approach. We benefited from the lockdown and the strategy we adopted was the right strategy.”

The PM used his address to create a sense of camaraderie by appreciating the people of states celebrating their New Year as Baisakhi and Bihu by remaining indoor and observing festivities with utmost simplicity. He also thanked the state governments and the municipal bodies for rising to the occasion in these extremely difficult times.

And then came the hammer of discipline with the announcement of the extension of the lockdown till May 3. As Modi switched to announcing the extension, his voice acquired a sterner tone, as that of a teacher telling his students to obey him.

“Violation of the lockdown discipline won’t be tolerated. After one week, we will review and decide to whom and how to give relaxations, but breaking of discipline will result in immediate withdrawal of relaxations,” he warned.

Woven around this was also a tone of persuasion, explaining how important it was to follow this discipline to win the battle.

Modi also spoke to the lockdown-enforcers – bureaucrats and government officials – on the ground, saying that their work was being watched.

“Every region, every district is under our lens. Those regions which pass this agnipariksha (test by fire) will be appreciated. But if some regions don’t, they will create a problem for us.”

Sharing details of the government’s preparedness, the Prime Minister gave a seven-point guideline to the citizens. It was full of sensitivity, lessons in surmounting the coronavirus challenge. He asked family members to look after their elders who are the most vulnerable in these times. Modi also asked people to show sensitivity to the corona warriors like doctors, nurses and policemen, and do maximum to look after the condition of the utterly poor by providing them food.

He then made an appeal to the young scientists to come forward and set an example before the world by inventing the elusive corona vaccine. Modi made an appeal to employers to not sack their employees.

In his short speech, Modi involved every member of the society in the fight against coronavirus.

Also read: What drives Narendra Modi in times of crises

Writer

Uday Mahurkar Uday Mahurkar @udaymahurkar

The writer is a Central Information Commissioner with the Central Information Commission. He is former senior journalist with India Today.

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