In an impassionate appeal to people with folded hands, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked people not to be careless during the festive season, wear masks in public places and practice social distancing. People must not rush to the conclusion that the battle against Covid has been won, he said, and become careless. He asked people to practice restraint till the time they get vaccinated.
In a 12-minute nationwide address, Modi cautioned that the second wave of the Covid pandemic has already begun in several countries, and we should not be complacent. The Prime Minister did some plain speaking and said that “people are not being careful, which is not good…we must keep in mind that lockdown may have ended but the virus is still there. This is not the time to be careless or to believe that the pandemic has ended. If you become careless and start moving around without a mask, you will be putting yourself, your children and elder members of your family at risk.”
A day before the Prime Minister’s speech, I had shown in my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’, how huge crowds were thronging election rallies in Bihar and thousands of devotees are flocking to the famous temples of Uttar Pradesh during the ongoing Navratra festival. Most of the people were not wearing masks, and they were jampacked at rallies and in temples.
Clearly, people are taking Covid risks lightly. They are, in fact, inviting the coronavirus to attack. I had also cautioned in my show that such mistakes could cause a big surge in the number of Covid cases again. The Prime Minister, too, highlighted similar concerns in his nationwide address. After watching his speech, one can conclude that our PM is keeping a close watch on developments in society and his intervention was timely.
At the moment, the Covid graph is gradually on the decline in India, but that is no reason for being complacent. During the last 24 hours, 54,044 new cases were reported in India taking the total number to 76,51,108. There were 717 new deaths and the death toll has now reached 1,15,914. Total active cases are now 7,40,090 after a decrease of 8,448 in the last 24 hours, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research. The total number of cured/migrated cases is now 67,95,103 with 61,775 patients discharged in the last 24 hours.
The situation is still grim in Maharashtra (8,151 new cases yesterday), while the other worst-hit states are Karnataka (6,297 cases), Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
With the festive season and Bihar elections on the threshold, Modi gave a simple slogan to the people: “Jab Tak Dawai Nahin, Tab Tak Dhilai Nahin” (No carelessness till you get the vaccine). He said, “even a small degree of carelessness will have adverse impacts. Let us stick to wearing masks, keeping distance and washing hands. So far, India has kept its Covid mortality rate low, medical infrastructure has been ramped up and testing capacity scaled up. These are positive achievements, which we must not fritter away through carelessness.”
On Tuesday night, I showed visuals of how crowds thronged a silk saree showroom in Chennai during a sale, throwing Covid norms to the winds. As the video became viral, the city municipal corporation officials came and sealed the showroom. This is an illustrative example of how people are still being careless about Covid. Thousands of devotees are still flocking to temples during Navratri and tens of thousands of people are thronging election rallies in Bihar. This needs to be curbed.
I want to make two points here.
First, visiting temples, churches, mosques and gurudwaras is a matter of faith. One should respect people’s faith, but even Almighty does not want devotees to risk their lives. Devotees must understand: Dussehra, Diwali, Eid will come next year too, and there is no need to put themselves at risk this year.
Second, as far as Bihar election rallies are concerned, I agree elections are essential in a democracy and campaigning cannot be prohibited. But the visuals that we are watching clearly point out the mistakes on part of the leaders, who themselves are not following Covid norms. How can they expect their supporters to follow norms if they do not comply with themselves? You cannot blame the public alone.
I think the Prime Minister’s appeal will have a good effect. Devotees will refrain from crowding places of worship and markets during the festive season. This was Modi’s seventh address to the nation in the last seven months, and every time his appeal was followed by people with sincerity. Now that the Covid graph appears to be on the decline, we must be resolute in following Covid norms scrupulously. I believe, the people of India will repose their trust in the Prime Minister by practicing Covid norms till the time vaccines are available.
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