Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised the role of technology in dealing with the coronavirus crisis and claimed that it helped ensure the poor got immediate assistance during the lockdown. Modi made the remark while inaugurating the 2020 Bengaluru Tech Summit.
“At the peak of Covid-19 lockdown, it was technology that ensured India’s poor received quick and proper assistance,” Modi said. “The scale of this relief has few parallels. If India is successfully operating the world’s largest healthcare scheme, it is due to a big role of technology.”
Modi said that India’s technology sector had shown resilience at a time when people were confined to their homes due to coronavirus-related restrictions.
The prime minister added that technology also played a key role in housing and electricity projects. “Today, when we’re able to help the poor build their homes at an unprecedented scale, speed and transparency, it is thanks to technology,” Modi said. “Today, when we are able to provide electricity to almost all households, technology has played a key role.”
In July, the Centre had approved the development of Affordable Rental Housing Complexes for urban migrants and the poor, as a sub-scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
The Centre had in May announced that about eight crore migrant workers, irrespective of whether they have ration cards, would get free foodgrains. The scheme was extended till the end of November. The announcement was part of the second tranche of the Centre’s economic rescue package of Rs 20 lakh crore.
While the Centre claimed that it was making efforts to help the migrant workers, the Opposition kept blaming it for their plight and said that the measures implemented by it were inadequate.
The sudden lockdown announced by Modi on March 25 triggered an exodus of migrant workers. Stranded in big cities without work, hundreds of thousands of them then began long journeys to home on foot, sometimes over distances of more than 1,000 km. Some died on the way due to illness and exhaustion, while others died in road accidents. The government started over 300 “Shramik” special trains on May 1 to help the workers get home, as it faced criticism from the Opposition.
In September, the Centre told the Parliament that it had no data available on the number of deaths of migrant workers.
The Centre’s response contrasted with the data provided by the Railway Protection Force reviewed by the Hindustan Times in May. The data showed that nearly 80 migrant workers died of starvation or heat sickness while travelling on special trains between May 9 and May 27. The Railway Protection Force is a security force under the authority of the Ministry of Railways.