Too little, too late.

Too little, too late.

Modi extends free ration plan for poor till Nov; to cover Chhath Puja

Leadership in question: Rahul; Modi’s eye on Bihar Assembly polls: Congress

Agency Report | New Delhi | 30 June, 2020 | 11:00 PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's most anticipated address to the nation at 4 PM on June 30 left a lot of people disappointed. The PM announced a massive relief package under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana 2020 that would be extended till November 2020 but failed to make even a passing mention of the conflict with China that is currently on along the country’s northern borders. Given the ongoing tension between China and India at the LAC, the nation was expecting a strong statement regarding the same from PM Modi and also an update about the activities with the warring neighbour.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that economic activities in the country will be increased further while observing all precautions to combat the coronavirus crisis.

In his address to the nation, Modi said that as India enters into ‘Unlock Two’ more economic activities will be allowed.

However, he cautioned against laxity in ensuring precautions against the deadly virus.

He further said that schemes focused on agriculture, economically weaker sections of society and rural areas will aid in employment generating during the monsoon and thereafter.

Besides, he pointed out, the country will continue with its efforts for import substitution and will become even more ‘Vocal for Local’.

Modi made two big announcements during his address to the nation — extension of the current free ration scheme for 80 crore Indians for another five months till the festive season gets over in November, besides announcing the ‘One India, One ration Card’ scheme.

Hiniting that it is a long haul and India’s poor and needy will continue to need the handholding of the government, the Prime Minister declared that the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna’ (PMGKAY) has been extended by another five months. It is a programme through which 80 crore Indians get free monthly ration.

The Prime Minister said the scheme, which will provide 5 kg wheat or rice to every needy family with an addition of 1 kg chana every month, will cost the government Rs 90,000 crore. The total cost of the scheme, including the amount spent so far, has cost the Centre an estimated Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

“During festivals, our needs also increase and so do the expenses. Keeping all these things in mind, it has been decided that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana will now be extended till Diwali and Chhath Puja, which is by the end of November,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister credited the farmers and the honest taxpayers for making the mammoth scheme possible.

“Today, if the government is being able to provide free food grains to the poor and the needy, the credit goes to two sections. Firstly, the hardworking farmers of India, and secondly, the honest taxpayers. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” said the Prime Minister.

He also mentioned how in the last three months, Rs 31,000 crore has been deposited into the bank accounts of 20 crore poor families. He also said that about Rs 18,000 crore is being deposited into bank accounts of more than nine crore farmers.

Modi also used the opportunity to propose ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’. “Now a ration card is also being arranged for the whole of India. That is, ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’. It will benefit those poor colleagues who leave their villages and go elsewhere for employment or other needs,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister also made two things very clear — “India will see more economic activities in the coming days, but Indians have no room to be complacent about the coronavirus”.

His statement assumes significance given that many have lowered their guard in the battle against the pandemic in recent times. The Prime Minister has asked the government and the concerned administrations to more stringently ensure that those violating the basic rules like wearing masks or maintaining social distancing desist from repeating their mistake.

“Ever since Unlock 1.0 started in the country, negligence in personal and social behaviour has been increasing,” the Prime Minister said.

Asking the administration to pay special attention to the contentment zones, he said, “During the lockdown, rules were strictly abided by. But now, the state governments, the local administrations and the citizens will have to again show similar caution. We need to pay special attention to the containment zones. If you see someone flouting norms, tell them they cannot do so.”

To make his point, Modi cited an example of a Prime Minister of another nation who was heavily fined for not wearing a mask. He asserted that when it comes to following rules to prevent the spread of the pandemic, no-one is untouchable, “be it the village head or the Prime Minister himself”.
Modi in his 16-minute address to the nation expressed concern over rising negligence of the coronavirus risk and said rules should be followed with the same seriousness as during the lockdown.

In his sixth address to the nation, the Prime Minister said, “irresponsible and negligent” behaviour had been on the rise during ‘Unlock 1′.

Earlier, Modi said, people were more careful about use of mask, washing hands for more than 20 seconds several times during the day and maintaining ‘do gazdoori’. “Regulations need to be followed with the same seriousness as during lockdown, especially in the containment zones,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister said the ‘Unlock 2′ coincided with the weather which caused several ailments.

Asking people to take care of their health, Modi said due to timely decisions, like lockdown, lakhs of lives could be saved and the death rate in the country was amongst the lowest in the world.

Modi exhorted people to spread awareness amongst those not following such rules and regulations.

Citing example of the Prime Minister of a country being fined Rs 13,000 for not wearing mask in public, he said local administration in India should act with the same alacrity, since no one, including the Prime Minister, was above the rule of law.

The Prime Minister addressed the nation a day after the government announced ‘Unlock 2′ as the country headed to a scarier phase of coronavirus. The number of Covid-19 cases has increased to 5,66,840 and the number of fatalities inching to the 17,000-mark.

Soon after Modi announced extension of benefit of free ration under PMGKAY till November to help the poor in view of the upcoming festivals, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi posted a Hindi quatrain to indirectly question his leadership.

Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Don’t distract by beating about the bush; but do tell how the convoy was robbed; I don’t have grievances against the robbers; but your leadership is in question.”

Ahead of the PM’s address to the nation, Rahul Gandhi had posted on implementation of Nyay scheme and to tell the nation when China will leave the Indian land.

In a video message, Rahul Gandhi had said: “Coronavirus has caused irreversible damage to the poor, middle, and salaried classes; we have demanded the government to implement Nyay scheme even if it is for six months.”

“The government should transfer Rs 7,500 per month to the accounts of the poor, the Congress leader had added.

Gandhi added: “Everybody knows the Chinese troops have occupied our holy land at four places.”

He also attacked the central government for raising fuel prices in the last three weeks since June 7.

The Congress has called Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 16-minute address to the nation, here on Tuesday, disappointing and disturbing as he didn’t spell out the plans to tackle China and coronavirus.

In a statement, Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said, “When China is extremely violent, the Prime Minister is silent. It’s not time to make empty claims, but give dateline when China will be evicted.”

The Prime Minister should have told the nation when the country would come down from fourth place on the Covid-19 table, and when Rs 7,500 cash transfer would be made to each Jan Dhan account.

In a tweet, the Congress said, “India deserves a leader who accepts failures & is open to making improvements. Not one who only believes in ignoring problems and avoids talking about them completely.”

The Congress claimed that he had only coming Bihar Assembly elections on his mind in these tough times when the people wanted “Nyay” to be implemented.

The Congress also pointed out that now even the Prime Minister had accepted that coronavirus crisis will be there till November, though the opposition party had expected that the PM will announce cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month to each poor family under Nyay.

Party leader Supriya Shrinate told a press conference that “the Prime Minister has focus only on the Bihar elections and there was nothing in his address to confront the challenges posed to the country.”

“We’re glad to hear that Modi has heeded the advice of Congress President Sonia Gandhi to extend the provisions of providing free food to the poor,” said Shrinate.

Sonia Gandhi had demanded free ration til September, which the Prime Minister extended till November 2020.

The Congress had proposed Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay) in the 2019 general election manifesto, promising that if voted to power, its government would enact a law to give cash to bottom 20 per cent of India’s families in terms of wealth. Such households were to receive up to Rs 72,000 each per year, benefiting 250 million people. (IANS)