Written byShalini Ojha ·
Giving a huge relief to the battered economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a Rs. 20 lakh crore financial package.
In his over 30-minute long address to the country, which started at 8 pm, he said India has to become self-reliant and that the coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity to achieve the same.
Here are the highlights of his speech.
At the outset, PM Modi noted the world had been battling COVID-19 for more than four months now, with nearly 300,000 dying globally. "In India too, people lost their loved ones, and I offer them my condolences," he said.
Quickly moving from the gloom to optimism, he said India has to come out stronger from this crisis. "We are capable of this," he added.
Noting that a virus has destroyed countries, he said, "This crisis was unheard of."
We have to remain cautious and take steps forward, he underlined. PM Modi said there is only one way to deal with the crisis — a self-dependent India.
"Before coronavirus, India didn't produce even one PPE kit and today we are churning out lakhs of it every day," he added.
PM Modi said as the Chief Minister of Gujarat he witnessed the 2001 earthquake when the state was battered. "At the time no one imagined that the state would recover but Indians proved everyone wrong," he added.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic has given us an opportunity.
"We have the will and way both. We need to make India stronger," he stressed.
The bumper package announced by him constitutes 10% of India's GDP and includes the Rs. 1.7 lakh crore aid, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in March, after the first lockdown had started.
"This package will play an important role in the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan'. This will help our laborers, farmers, honest taxpayers, MSMEs, and the cottage industry," he went on.
The five pillars of a self-reliant India are economy, infrastructure, tech-driven system, vibrant demography, and demand, explained PM Modi. He said this package will help all sectors and usher in a new era for India.
PM Modi also said now was the time to help local products. "Don't only buy local products but flaunt them too. Be vocal about local," he told Indians.
"Scientists say coronavirus will be a part of our lives for a very long time. We will wear masks and maintain social distancing but we will not let it affect us," he added.
Towards the end of his address, PM Modi announced that the lockdown will be extended.
"Based on the suggestions by states, information related to lockdown 4 will be given to you before 18th May. We will fight coronavirus and we will move forward," he added.
The third bout of restrictions is scheduled to end on May 17.
This address came a day after PM Modi held a marathon meeting with Chief Ministers, to discuss the next steps.
In the video-conference, that lasted nearly six hours, the heads of states told PM Modi about the on-ground realities.
Several CMs suggested extending the lockdown in hotspots but giving relief in non-containment zones. He asked them to submit their suggestions by May 15.
In yesterday's meeting, PM Modi spoke about loosening curbs related to travel. "It is human nature to want to go home," he had said, hinting towards the special trains being run to ferry migrant workers home.
Last week, the Centre started Shramik special trains to send distressed workers home. After initially ferrying 1,200 workers per journey, the number was increased to 1,700 on Tuesday.
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