Two years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a nationwide lockdown to tame the deadly Covid-19 virus. It was a tough time. PM Narendra Modi not only sailed the country through the crisis but also steered it towards Aatmanirbharata (self-reliance).
All arms of the government, including our Armed Forces, had put in night and day to ensure that supply chains of essential items were maintained and healthcare infrastructure significantly updated. Over 588 flights were operated under the Lifeline Udan mission to make sure that even remote corners of the country were not left out of the supply of essentials. We have become self-sufficient in the production of essential medicines, N95 masks, PPE gear as well as ventilators. We had successfully evacuated all Indian citizens who wanted to return home. A time came for the country to reopen. Economic measures were put in place, and structural changes were planned.
After months of cautionary messages, the prime minister addressed the nation with a message of hope and renewal. Ever since he was voted in as prime minister with a large majority in 2014 and an even larger one in 2019, he has commanded authority from all sides of the political spectrum as a man who could bring drastic changes to catalyse India’s growth story. The fact that he presents himself devoid of worldly attachments and as the foremost patriot and a full-time prime minister adds to his credibility. Millions of Indians invest their emotions in his dreams of taking India’s growth story to new heights. In his speech on 12 May, PM Modi delivered precisely that—his dream for a new, post-COVID, stronger India with a solid plan to achieve it, and invoking a rejuvenated spirit of patriotism.
He noted in his speech, "It has been over four months that the global community has been fighting against the Coronavirus. Forty-two lakh people across the world have been infected, and tragically over 2.75 lakh have lost their lives. In India, too, people have lost near and dear ones. And I express my heartfelt condolences to all. The virus has destroyed the world, with crores of people facing the crisis. Across the world, countries are engaged in a battle to save precious lives. We have never seen or even heard of a crisis of such proportion. It is a crisis that is unthinkable and unprecedented for all mankind."
Lekin, thaknaa, harna, tootna, bikharna manav ko manzoor nahi hai. Satark rehte hue, aisi jung ke sabhi niyamo ka palan karte hue, ab hume bachna bhi hai aur aage badhna bhi hai.
(But, getting tired, losing, and breaking down is not acceptable to mankind. By being vigilant and following the new rules of the battle, we not only have to protect ourselves but also move forward.) Today, as the world is in crisis, we have to strengthen our resolve. It is this collective resolve which will be even more powerful than the crisis.
Hum pichli shataabdi se hi lagaatar sunte aaye hai ki eekisvi sadi Hindustan ki hai. (We have been hearing since the last century that the twenty-first century will belong to India.) We have had the opportunity to study and analyse in great detail the pre-corona world order and the global arrangements. Even after the Corona crisis has struck, we have been closely and constantly observing the changing global situation. If we look at both from India’s perspective, it becomes clear that our dream of the twenty-first century belonging to India doesn’t just have to be a dream, but also our collective responsibility. But how do we get there? Looking at the prevailing situation in the world today, it is clear that there is only one road to our dream: Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India).
We stand today as a nation at a very important crossroads. A huge crisis like this has brought us a warning, a message and an opportunity. Today, the definition of self-reliance has been revisited. The whole world is now looking at human-centric globalisation versus the prevalent economy-centric globalisation of the recent past. It is here that India’s fundamental value of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is our family) comes in as a ray of hope to the world.
PM Modi proceeded to give out five pillars on which Bharat can achieve self-reliance: first, an economy that brings a quantum jump rather than incremental change. Second is infrastructure, which is the identity of modern India. Third is a system that is based on superior technology-driven solutions. Fourth is our vibrant demography, which can become the source of energy and last is demand. The strength of our demand can drive the cycle of demand and supply chains within our economy, harnessing its full potential. In order to increase demand in the country and to meet this demand, every stakeholder in our supply chain needs to be empowered and our supply chains strengthened by our labour force.
(Priyam Gandhi-Mody is a Delhi-based writer. This exclusive excerpt from her latest book ‘A Nation To Protect’ has been published with due permission from Rupa Publications.)