Modi seeks apology to the poor people of India

International Desk,
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the nation's poor for forgiveness yesterday, as the economic and human toll from his 21-day nationwide lockdown deepens and criticism mounts about a lack of adequate planning ahead of the decision.

Modi on Tuesday(March 24) announced a three week-lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. But, the decision has particularly stung millions of India's poor, leaving many hungry and forcing tens of thousands of jobless migrant labourers to walk hundreds of kilometres from cities to their native villages.

I would firstly like to seek forgiveness from all my countrymen, Modi said in a nationwide radio address on Sunday (March 29).

The poor would definitely be thinking what kind of prime minister is this, who has put us into so much trouble, he said, urging people to understand there was no other option.

Steps taken so far will give India victory over corona, he added.

Modi, whose government on Thursday(March 26) announced a 22.6 billion dollar economic stimulus plan to provide direct cash transfers and food handouts to India's poor, however, did not offer any clarity on future plans. Till Sunday the number of infected from corona has risen to 979 while 25 people died of the deadly disease.

In an op-ed published on Sunday, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo - two of the three winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2019 - warned that even more aid for the poor is needed.

Without that, the demand crisis will snowball into an economic avalanche, and people will have no choice but to defy orders, they wrote in the Indian Express.

It is feared that during last six years when the GDP in India is at the bottom, just at this time lockdown will more aggravate the economic distress of the people.