Self-reliance biggest lesson from COVID pandemic: PM


New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic has taught the country “to be self-reliant and self-sufficient” and not look for solutions abroad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told grassroots leaders on Friday as he stressed that every village, district and state should be able to provide for its basic needs.

Applauding people for their grit in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak, Modi said “the collective power of the villages is helping the country move forward” and complimented the rural India for its simple and motivating mantra of “Do Gaz Ki Doori” to popularise social distancing.

The slogan given by the rural India “showed the wisdom of the people”, he said. The Prime Minister said skills and knowledge of people are put to test during the time of a crisis, but India’s villages have displayed the best of their efforts to fight the pandemic.

Notwithstanding the limited resources at its disposal, India has taken the challenge proactively and showed its resolve to move forward with new energy and new ways, he said.

The Prime Minister was interacting with gram panchayat heads and members to mark Panchayati Raj Divas on Friday. The programme was scheduled to be held in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh but was held by a video bridge following the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

“This pandemic has thrown at us new challenges and problems which we have never imagined, but it also taught us a very good lesson with a strong message. It has taught us that we have to be self-reliant and self-sufficient. It has taught us that we should not look for solutions outside the country. This is the biggest lesson we have learnt,” he said.

“Every Village has to be self-sufficient enough to provide for its basic needs. Similarly, every district has to be self-sufficient at its level, every state has to be self-reliant at its level and the whole country has to be self-reliant at its level,” he said.

Every gram sabha, every block and every district need to be self-reliant for its basic needs, he added.

Modi said the government worked hard in trying to provide self-sufficiency to villages and making gram panchayats stronger.

“With its simple mantra of Do Gaz Ki Doori (maintaining distance of two yards), rural India has described social distancing in simple words, villages have showcased the best of their principles, traditional values to fight coronavirus,” Modi, who used a ‘gamcha’ as face mask, said.

Applauding people for observing lockdown rules, he said it is because of them, the entire world today is talking about how India has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“COVID-19 is a huge crisis for the world but people of India have shown grit in this fight. We are fighting this and we are moving ahead with new ideas to tackle the virus,” Modi asserted.

Heads and members of gram panchayats from across the country shared their experiences in handling the crisis and conveyed to the Prime Minister that people are religiously following the lockdown.

During the interaction, a gram panchayat member of Jammu and Kashmir said amid this crisis respect and suspect for the people should go hand in hand to ensure that spread of the virus is checked.

Modi also told them COVID-19 is a unique virus, it doesn’t enter homes of the people on its own, “it is you who can bring it home then it spares no one”.

He asked a gram panchayat representative from Cachar in Assam whether people of the state were angry as Bihu festival could not be celebrated due to the lockdown, which came into force on March 25 and has now been extended till May 3.

The representative said people understood that the decision was taken in larger good. A gram panchayat head from a village near Pune in Maharashtra gave a similar reply when Modi asked whether people were unhappy with him.

In his concluding remarks, Modi stressed that there was a need to ensure that people get correct information and are not swayed by rumours and misinformation.

He said well-cooked food should be consumed. He also said certain spices and home-made ‘kadha’ (an ayurvedic home remedy) are good to develop immunity. He stressed that a body with strong immunity can help remain strong and healthy.

Modi said, “Coronavirus pandemic has really changed the way we work.” He said earlier such programmes were held where people used to meet in person. But now events are being held via video conference, he said.