On Tuesday, at 8 pm as has become the norm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s went on television for the fourth time in recent months to talk about the novel coronavirus pandemic. Modi emphasised the need for India to be “self-reliant” and announced a Rs 20 lakh crore economic package to help the country battle the economic crisis that has followed the nationwide lockdown to slow down the spread of Covid-19.
Modi sad that rules about an extended nationwide lockdown would be announced well before May 18, when the current phase of restrictions ends.
Like his previous speeches, Modi’s Tuesday address – his longest about the pandemic so far – was met with jokes and jibes.
The cartoonist Manjul drew attention to the fact that all announcements of Modi’s television addresses make Indians anxious.
Among the expected targets for humour was Modi’s proclivity for taking too long to come to the point.
Modi’s repeated emphasis on India’s need to become “atma-nirbhar” (self-reliant) and his declaration that Indians should be “vocal for local” products invited chuckles.
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra found similarities between Modi’s call for India’s need to be self-reliant economically, and the “juche” ideology of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s first Supreme Leader.
Here’s what Twitter users had to say about the highlight of today’s speech: the Rs 20 lakh crore package. Some expressed suspicion about the way the package would be rolled out, while others noted the numerological significance in Modi’s announcement.
Someone took a dig at how Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman might not be serious about the exact size of the package.
The Sanskritised Hindi that Modi chose to use in his speech found its share of critics.
One Twitter user made a note of how predictable Modi’s speeches have become.
Modi’s declaration that India was poised for “quantum leap for growth” caused eyebrows to be raised.
So did his decision to identify the country’s “vibrant demography” as one of its in its quest to be self-reliant. One Scroll.in contributor used the phrase to allude to the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who are on India’s highways, attempting to walk back from cities in which they are stranded without work or food to their home villages, some of which are thousands of kilmetres away.
Some concluded that the speech, just over 30 minutes long, was much ado about nothing.