Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a letter to the nation one year into his second term, said the nation took historic decisions and progressed rapidly in the last year but conceded that migrant workers, labourers and others had “undergone tremendous suffering” during the coronavirus crisis. He also predicted that India would set an example in economic revival and surprise the world like it did in its fight against the pandemic.
“In a crisis of this magnitude, it can certainly not be claimed that no one suffered any inconvenience or discomfort. Our labourers, migrant workers, artisans and craftsmen in small scale industries, hawkers and such fellow countrymen have undergone tremendous suffering,” PM Modi said in his letter addressed to “fellow Indians”.
“However, we have to take care to ensure that inconveniences that we are facing do not turn into disasters.” Tens of thousands of migrants driven to desperation by the loss of jobs and walking, cycling or riding in trucks for thousands of kilometres became a defining image of the coronavirus lockdown enforced in late-March.
The Prime Minister said he was aware that a lot needed to be done. “There are many challenges and problems that our country faces. I am working day and night. There could be deficiencies in me but there is nothing that our country lacks. So, I believe in you, your strength and your abilities even more than I believe in myself,” he said, reiterating his mantra of self-reliant India.
“Due to the global pandemic this is certainly a time of crisis but for us Indians this is also a time for a firm resolve. We must always remember that the present and future of 130 crore will never be dictated by an adversity.”
PM Modi said a “golden chapter” began in Indian democracy this day last year, when he came to power for the second straight term. It was after several decades that the country voted back a full-term government with a full majority.
“During normal times, I would have been in your midst. However, the present circumstances do not permit that. That is why, I seek your blessings through this letter.”
In the last five years, the administrative apparatus “broke itself free of status quo and from the swamp of corruption as well as misgovernance”, the PM wrote.
India’s stature rose significantly, he said, and the dignity of the poor was enhanced. He listed steps taken by his government, and also recalled the 2016 surgical strike on terror camps across the Line of Control and the 2019 air strike to bomb a terror training site deep inside Pakistan.
“In 2019, the people of India voted not merely for continuity but also with a dream- of taking India to new heights,” he said.
In the last year, PM Modi wrote, some decisions of his government were widely discussed and remain etched in public discourse.
He referred to the scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, saying it “furthered the spirit of national unity and integration”. He also mentioned the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict.
On the Citizenship Amendment Act, which saw nationwide protests, the PM said “it was an expression of India’s compassion and spirit of inclusiveness”.
As a result of the policies and decisions of his government, the rural-urban gap is shrinking, the Prime Minister said. “The list of such historic actions and decisions taken in national interest would be too long to detail in this letter. But I must say that every day of this year, my government has worked round the clock with full vigour, taking and implementing these decisions.”
On the pandemic, PM Modi said: “Many feared that India will become a problem for the world when corona hits India. But today, you have transformed the way the world looks at us. You have proven that the collective strength and potential of Indians is unparalleled compared even to the powerful and prosperous countries of the world. Be it clapping and lighting a lamp to the honouring of Corona Warriors by India’s armed forces, Janta curfew or by faithful adherence to rules during the nationwide lockdown, on every occasion you have shown that Ek Bharat is the guarantee for Shrestha Bharat.”