File photo | Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Congress President Rahul Gandhi at Parliament House | PTI
File photo | Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Congress President Rahul Gandhi at Parliament House | PTI
Text Size:

The coronavirus pandemic is making a bigger footprint in India every day. It’s something everyone agrees has to be fought on priority — from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, from Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.

As of now, there are 396 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India. But doctors and experts have said it’s just the tip of the iceberg because India hasn’t been testing adequately. No matter if you considered Modi’s Janata Curfew Sunday a success or not, with a population of over 1.3 billion people, India should be bracing for much worse.

And in times like these, leadership counts. Donald Trump will forever be remembered for his careless handling of coronavirus in the US and Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong for his timely, action-oriented handling of cases in his country, so much so, that the country didn’t have to go into lockdown.

So, how does Prime Minister Narendra Modi fare? And what about ‘chanakya’ Amit Shah, India’s home minister? It is also the job of the opposition to make sure the government is doing the right thing in these tough times. So, what is Rahul Gandhi doing?

Also read: India locks down to prevent COVID-19 spread — here are restrictions imposed in your state

The Janata Curfew

Prime Minister Modi addressed this dark moment in India’s history Thursday by speaking to the nation through a live telecast speech and letting us know the gravity of the situation. Self-isolation, he said, is a must. We were told to observe a ‘Janata Curfew’ or a self-imposed curfew Sunday and clap on balconies or clang plates to cheer blue collar workers and medical staff at 5 pm.

The 5-pm plate clanging and clapping happened with the kind of pomp and show that we see during a baraat, jaagran and Diwali. If the ‘festivities’ happened on balconies, it would still look cute, but people stepped down from their homes on to the streets to ‘come together’ against the disease. And that destroyed the whole point of the exercise. Instead of celebrating our medical heroes, we ended up disrespecting exactly what they asked us to do, which is, to be responsible citizens and not overwhelm the medical staff by maintaining distance and avoiding community transmission. Perhaps, the PM needed to spell it out more clearly for Indians. They stayed in all day and came out at 5 pm to undo it.

The problem is that at no point did the Prime Minister speak about the actual steps the government is taking to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic in India. What are we doing to test patients? Do we have enough testing kits? How much are we spending on hospital space, staff, beds, ventilators? Are we following the South Korean model of more testing and no lockdown to contain the spread of the virus?  We were instead told that finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be heading a special task force to tackle the pandemic. Till now, no financial package has been announced by the Modi government. Abstract ideas and one-day of semi-successful quarantine are not going to help India now, neither is it going to reflect well on Modi’s leadership.

Also, considering how the economy is at the precipice of a major downward spiral, with businesses virtually shutting down, spreading the finance minister thin in tackling an epidemic doesn’t seem to be the wisest of decisions. And that too a minister who is often criticised for not doing her job as the finance minister well.

Also read: Coronavirus: Latest updates on cases in India, all you need to know about COVID-19

Grand-old no-show

The opposition too has a role as a leader during a pandemic. Keep people calm, ask them to cooperate and quarantine, and ask the government about measures being taken. But then there’s Rahul Gandhi whose tweets are constantly reminding us that we better panic since India is going to pay an extremely “heavy price” for the government’s inability to act decisively. So, for a moment, let’s pay heed to Rahul Gandhi’s call for a quicker action. But here too, what steps is someone like Rahul Gandhi, who has figured out the disaster we are heading towards, suggesting we take?

And Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi aren’t helping us figure that out either.

Again, it is the regional parties and leaders who have taken the lead in the fight against coronavirus.

Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan has announced a Rs 20,000-crore financial package, which includes a Rs 500 crore health package to tackle coronavirus in a state that just has 40 infected patients so far. He has announced free food grain, subsidised meals, tax relief and arrear clearance along with “facilitating Rs 2000 crore in consumer loans through self-help group Kudumbashree to those impacted by COVID-19”. Social welfare pensions of April will be released in March itself in Kerala. Meals will be served at Rs 20. These are real-time, actual steps that can tackle the pandemic and its economic cost.

Also read: Janata curfew is Modi’s 2nd stab at social mobilisation, but it can be a double-edged sword

Rahul Gandhi should have tweeted what Congress governments in Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are doing to fight COVID-19 because the rest of the opposition is wasting no time to reassure the people of their states. For example, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has announced that the state government will provide rice for free for the next six months in ration shops to make sure no one goes without food in these dire times, benefiting 7.5 crore people of the state.

Arvind Kejriwal has reassured the people of Delhi that his government is prepared to handle the COVID-19 crisis. He has arranged DUSIB flats for patients, which have been vacant for a long time, and installed 500 isolation beds in Delhi government hospitals. In fact, he has gone a step ahead and added rooms in under-construction hospitals of the Delhi government for the purpose. Delhi is now in a lockdown.

This is a time for the community to remain alert and morally uplifted. And for that, we need the Narendra Modi government as well as the opposition, including the Gandhi family, to stand up for science and practicality, if not solidarity.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism

49 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Such biased journalism is actually helping polarisation politics of modi government. These articles Feel like trash as these reek of antigovernment bias. No one takes media seriously now a days. Pathetic article.

  2. Bhai koi thali plan wlan nahi hai yeh bhi waus sahi jaise 15 lac rupye nne wale the #andh bhakt kripya kuch faltu ka nahi faialye kuch bhi faila dete ho yarr jabki uss bande ne kuch plan banaya hu nahi hai kuch nahi kiya fir bhi backchodiya kiye ja rahe ho ki issne yeh kiya woh kiya #modi media #andhbhakt ab mat bolna me congress se hu me jo gakat ho raha hai usse hu and kuch bhi baat pe modi ko bhadava dete jo kabhi jawano ko bhi credit Diya kar

  3. We cud have gone for 10 days lockdown to start with and a review of spread of Coronavirus after 7 days for further decision on lockdown based on result.Firther,.if ppl keep crowding provision stores etc.because of such a long LD then it has no.meaning.

  4. Keep the money in your pocket. Corona will not touch you. Is that the logic you are talking about? Financial aids are defined based on the need of country specific. Kerala CM announcing financial package? How much is going to reach the needy? I know the funds collected from Vatican during Kerala floods, have gone and disappeared. Everyone repaired their home themselves. Ask anyone, any contribution from Kerala govt. None. Politicians have bought villas and have invested in Gulf.
    Trump announced $50 bn package for every state having the need for Corona test center. Every state there announced emergency to corner the $50 bn package. Now what will happen? It takes $1300 to test every American? Does every American need this test, without even having any symptoms? And someone said 80% of Americans will be hit by Corona virus. What a pharmaceutical and test lab lobby working overtime for opportunity. Look every country has peculiar problem, like India has secular problem. What is important is to flatten the Corona curve. It is on increasing in India and most of the western world. Started decreasing in China and South Korea. Japan and Singapore did not have much impact. India need to flatten the curve. As much preparedness is necessary to keep hospitals ready, additional beds, additional ventilators, additional testing kits (all these will not come overnight), it is also necessary that we follow discipline. Maintain social distancing, keep our environment clean, maintain hygiene. Period. We break the chain. This is a poor article, without any solution. Just writing something to fill up space. The Print has enough of such articles. Let Shekarji get good writers and opinion writers to fill up the columns than these 3rd rated writers, whose only agenda is negativity.

  5. All muslim writers have only a single point agenda to criticize Modi. They do no have the country at heart and will be quite happy to sactifice many lives to push forth their agenda. For them no step or action the government takes os worthy, & if taken , like article 370, it is hasty after 70 years of vacillation.
    The Print is obviously getting paid by Jihadis & Durbaris to publish shivam Vij & Zainab regilarly.

    • amidst a pandemic also they are hate and fear mongering. no wonder all call them anti nationals. I never wanted to say and believe this but dad always used to say Muslims can never be trusted !!!! I disregarded this until I saw Shaheen bagh and its adamant nature even during a pandemic

    • wow! Never seen such hate in any comments. Are you dumb or did you get your head banged somewhere? do you even understand what the write has said? What does it matter if he is a Hindu or Muslim. The govt. has been found wanting in showing any urgency to tackle this crisis? The Writer is doing his job as a alert and responsible citizen to question the government. don’t do bakwas if you can’t help in this situation. Writing hate comments may satisfy your urge for relevance but unless you are adding anything constructive in these times, keep your trap shut.


    • Shame on you for that awful comment. It has become acceptable behaviour to pick out anyone who has an opinion different from one’s own and attack them for their beliefs, state, religion, caste and language.
      This is not the way we were raised. This is not the country we fought for.

  6. There Is Absolutely Nothing Nothing At All To Compare Between The PM And Once PM Potential.Then Why You Are Even Attempting?To Grab Headlines?

    • Only sing of modi with bang of thali .remember kannaya saying give dil to modi but use dimag to think . Think and think use every institute to research and do medical help and protect medical staff first like in China supply kits .we have experience of demonetising without sufficient alternative currency printed .what a planning.

  7. How much you get to write such articles? What has Rahul Gandhi has to do with these developments? For your kind information, of all the leaders India have right now, he is one person who was crying and shouting from the rooftop since Feb 12th to do something urgent about coronavirus threat. Now you came back after 45 days and ask what is Rahul Gandhi doing. Once again for your kind information, Modi is the last leader of a nation to react, in any way whatsoever, to the coronavirus threat. He opened his mouth finally on Mar 18th, 2020. When the history of this outbreak is written, this date also should be noted in bold letters.

  8. Author seems to be of left leaning. Only after PM address people and State Governments have woken up to the need for isolation and lock outs.

  9. It’s ‘garbage’ if one word to summarise the article. It’s job of government of day and not anybody else. If u want anyone else to do then he has to be empowered. Hatred of author is evident in him singling out one particular leader and accusing him of not doing anything. Just to remind, he urged govt atleast one month back to be serious but then …..less said better

  10. IThe Pm has called for self isolation. Former finance Minister called for sealing of even metros. All are fine. What about the civic sense in most parts of the country? How many in the Country can sit at home and work. Most of the earning citizens have to go to work spot/face lay off. It is a complex matter. The PM with all his powers ought to have announced his plans to help those daily wage people, factory workers, even auto drivers/ Rahul with no power can only suggest He can not carry out any scheme to offer financial help. Closing down the commuter travels will only add more problems. educating the public the harms of committing public nuissance is the need of the hour.

  11. A very poorly written article. Expect better from THE PRINT. The central Govt doesn’t make plans in a day. Plans are being made for example for mass manufacturing of testing kits What Mr. Modi announced was for masses to know what their job is. In that time states are doing the best what they can do like Kerala, Delhi, UP etc.

  12. What rubbish.. first you tag a person ‘Pappu’ than expects everything from him only. Make him the authority first than expect..
    Secondly he has been very vigilant from the start, warning people and govt. I am really ashamed that we all ignored his farsight and as usual ignored.
    And now to the PM, why is he always late in waking up? And taali ya thali was enough?? How ridiculous? Did anyone hear Drs screams for help?? They are struggling with inadequate supply of basic necessities like gloves and masks. Where are the plans for daily wagers, how are they and families going to survive band? Stupidness of govt is praised as greatness is so shocking to see.👎🏼

    • Pappu has no experience and uneducated seating on vast treasure accumulated by Congress Party for + years of misrule.Congress party everywhere is decimated and lost MP without a fight.Congress will not let young guns become leaders. Priyanka is not a Gandhi but a corrupt ‘VADRA’ hanging on to Gandhi name,She had no experience and no education.
      Long live BJP. BJP will come back 3rd time for sure.

  13. Dear Zainab/The Print team,
    I appreciate some of your views in the article, specifically, about disrespecting the emergency staff by stepping out of the streets at 5:00 PM. That has happened in Hyderabad too, where I reside. It’s our(everyone’s, not just the PM’s) responsibility to educate those who’ve stepped out as to why that’s a wrong thing to do.
    However, I’d like to humbly disagree with you on most other points mentioned in the article. Certainly, it is the duty of the media to question the government on the steps that it is taking to keep the pandemic in check. But, I believe the criticism should be constructive, rather than going personal. Let’s tackle COVID-19 collectively and responsibly, rather than blaming one another.

  14. Blaming the govt for not revealing details like shortage of testing kits, ventilators, medical staff and such is not right. We are well aware of the shortages and reiterating on these points would only create fear and panic and result a mad rush by the people to get themselves tested or admitted even if they are not suffering from the symptoms. Self-isolation and minimizing pressure on the healthcare system is the need of the hour. Meaning, boost the morale of the public and encourage them to stay indoors and stay safe.

    • No need to even behave copy cat (after the Spanish PM)in asking people to clap and appreciate because Indians are emotional at wrong times and don’t listen to full instrunions.
      My advice to PM if he cannot reveal the preparations made to tackle the crisis then don’t resort to gimmickry to show something is being done.

  15. Rahul Gandhi is not the PM. What can he do but appeal the ruling Govt to do something? It’s stupid to ask Rahul Gandhi to come up with a solution. That’s the Government’s job.

  16. You should please see the measures taken by the Chhatisgarh and Punjab Governments. Simply berating the Gandhis and turning a blind eye to state government’s steps is complete folly.

  17. Sikander ben, I suggest yo self-isolate effective immediately, so we, the readers, are spared of all the trash such as this.
    The world over, the focus is on how we can defeat this monster virus. And here you’re, pricking the Pappu-Modi part of politics.

    • And, of course, you’re going to defeat the virus by reading the print and staying ‘active’ on social media.
      And, because you’re doing such a great job, the journalist in question must stop trying to do her job.
      We should have chosen you to head the government!!

  18. The article is a manifestation of the immaturity of the author and the reason that no one takes the media seriously in our country. The writer is bragging about Rs 20000 crore package by Kerala CM. Does the author know about the today annual budget for Kerala and from these Rs 20000 crores will come ? Or will mere announcements be enough to take care of all pressing issues ? This is so stupid. Modi works on the ground and is not working to impress the sold out media. He is the best person to lead India in such unprecedented times. Perhaps the writer is not mature enough to understand that the Janta curfew is a step in social distancing. The writer also shows her lack of understanding of her job, of Indian politics, leadership etc when she expects lots of things from Rahul Gandhi. Expecting Rahul even to do something good is like inviting disaster. Please stop criticising the government and do your constructive worth. And if you can’t contribute to nations welfare please just shut up.

  19. It’s funny article comparing measures taken by Our government with tiny Singapore and South Korea. Country of size of india highly populated central and state govts have done wonderful job in creating awareness of the seriousness of covid.Public co oprated and Janta curfew was a success.The print is known for negative comment of govt.

    • Look at the response of USA now. They have given financial aid of more than a trillion dollars. A country of a bigger size.

      • Abdul bhai,

        America ki economy 15 trillion dollar ki hai, aur population humse kam.

        Calculation karlo dost. Ab ye mat bolna ke modi ne economy aage kyon nahin badhai. Same question we can ask congress as well. China started Liberalization in 70’s. We started in 90’s. Who is to blame.

        So let’s not blame each other and compare with countries who are doing better against corona virus. We need to see the differences between us and themselves. Like south korea and Singapore. Look at their size and population and the civic sense their people have and then compare with ours.

        Hope it’s taken in the right spirit.

  20. It should be a matter of common sense to understand that no government will ever speculate on the possibility that the battle against Corona could be lost. Government knows the limitations of the system and is working discreetly and sensibly behind the scene to make best out of it. So far, it has taken calibrated steps in meeting the challenge. It was Modi’s idea to make sure that people accept the idea of lock down, try it voluntarily at first and then severe measures will follow. Various state governments have also chipped in and various measures are under way. Testing by private labs is now permitted. AIIMS has come out with a protocol to treat corona and that should be a good guidance to doctor for treatment of mild to severe cases; IIT Delhi’s cheaper kit to test Carona is under testing. The next real challenge will be availability in required numbers of the beds in the hospitals all over the country. The current lock down will provide a breather and hopefully, we should be able to tide over the crisis. People have to ensure that they cooperate and do not help spread the virus. Given this background, why bother with Rahul or the Gandhis? or for that matter, with South Korea or Singapore?

  21. I don’t know much about writer of this article but one thing is clear the writer is short sighted and biased. It seems he/she is not understood the message i.e. to make huge population of country aware of the seriousness of the pandemic and largely the PM has succeeded in his mission barring few instances of people coming on road. The comparison between Dynasty and PM is not correct. Dynasty’s single point agenda is to oppose Modi only because since last six years we haven’t seen any constructive opposition from Dynasty. The writer is mentioned only CMs of Kerala and Delhi for financial help to needy people ignoring other states who have taken measures to tackle the situation arising out of Corona. That shows his/her bias which side he/she is tilting.

  22. UP govt. द्वारा 35 वाख मजदूरों को 1000 रूपये देने की घोषणा का जिक्र क्यो नही है???

  23. Rahul is the proverbial “Atlas” for all these folks (Zainab, Shivam etc). He must be the knight and fight with the mighty Modi-Shah juggernaut while you guys will praise his opponents (lefties and didis and Kejri) and criticise him for meddling with Congress states. When he doesn’t meddle and Congress govts succumb to infighting, then Rahul gets blamed for not doing enough. He barely has 50 MPs and his opponents more than 300. Davids rarely win – in the real world it is mostly Goliaths who come trumps. If you want him to play for you, then provide him the tools. If you think he doesn’t have it in him, then discard him and search for someone else who will bear your crosses. This incessant crying and despairing for Rahul to come to the rescue is what has brought you to this juncture.

  24. This is stupid.Will the writers plan be implemented? why must a Rahul plan be implemented if there was one? Does PM have a plan? This virus has no cure to date. It is nice to know the subject before one Writes.

  25. Mr. Shekhar Gupta, we all know you don’t stand up for BJP or Modi whatever they do, you find faults. Each state is doing its best to break corona virus and PMO is monitoring the situation with each state. Udhav Thakarey met Mr. Modi and had talk with him. He has asked to lockdown four cities of Maharashtra. Same is happening with other states. Since you are blind with the hate of Modi, you don’t seem to have read that ,75 major cities are under lockdown. Thank God we have Modi and not your darling Rahul or MMS as PM. Forget Sonia, she would run away to Italy with Priyanka.

  26. This writer is so negative that even adding infinity would make her only a Zero! The magnitude of issue in India cannot be compared with hand kerchief sized countries like South Korea or Singapore. Anyway, Janata Curfiew was not the final solution. Modi doesn’t seem to have made any such claim. In fact, based on the success of yesterday’s voluntary curfew, today we are told to continue social distancing as the only remedy against COVID 19. Janata Curfew was only a thin end of the wedge.

    • U have no answer on what happened at 5.00 pm which defeated the purpose. CM should sent our a van with loudspeaker to stay inside and clap etc in advance. She is right in one stroke a good step went for a spin. This is what happens to give it particular colour

    • It is precisely because of people like you, this government is able to get away with their massive incompetence at every level. All Modi needs to do is brush off everything under the carpet, and come and talk about Janata curfew on TV, and people like you will lap it up and be satisfied. India is being considered as the next epicenter for this virus, precisely because of the incompetence of the people in power. We had a chance to massively increasing testing & surveillance for about a month across all our airports and major transit points.

      I have myself traveled several times for work in the last few months, and there was hardly anything being done in the airports till about February. By that time, this disease you can bet has passed on to every nook and corner of India, and has 1000’s infected. I had to get privately tested to make sure I was not infected because I live with older parents and family member. And by the way all this time essential equipment necessary to keep doctors was being exported out of India, and now we are running short of this exact equipment. But all this time your Daddy Modi was busy dismantling opposition governments, sitting over a riot in Delhi, CAA rather than paying attention to the single biggest evolving health crisis we have seen in the last several decades. We dont even know how big the crisis is because when we could, we hardly did any testing and now we cant because we dont have the capacity.

      Keep barking about how everyone is negative, how they are Pakistanis, about Pappu – while the person who you voted for precisely handling this kind of calamities gets away with stupid memes spread through IT cells and 8pm news announcements, which again was meant as a self aggrandizing brand building event. Meanwhile the economy that was close to a collapse already is going to suffer a blow bigger than 1991. But hey Agle Baar Aayega Toh Modi Hi – because we have enough idiots in this country, who have forgotten the country is bigger than one person or party.

  27. how is the writer comparing our country which has a population nearly as china but a democracy and a developing nation with singapore, south korea (tiny nations with population less than mumbai or delhi)? look at the world economy prior to this pandemic, which countries are doing good and which are not? didn’t merit the writer to write a biased article. shekar sir, didn’t expect such an article from your publication. short of content and as usual biased.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here