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PM Modi, here are my five questions to you as India fights the coronavirus

It’s amply clear the prime minister only prefers monologues. But this is not election-time or opposition-mud-slinging time, India is facing a pandemic.

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The most powerful man in India refuses to have a conversation with us Indians during a national health emergency — the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been six years, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi still prefers soliloquies. The idea of uttering the words, “Modi ji my question to you is”,  would send many of us into a tizzy. That is the power of Modi’s silence over Indian media.

Narendra Modi having an open, unscripted press conference seems to be a fantasy for many journalists and political observers. This fantasy, however, is now turning into a necessity. We are not in election season. We are also not in a mud-slinging match between political parties. We are in the midst of a pandemic, fast-spreading, without cure and one that is laying bare India’s public health infrastructure. People are dying either of Covid-19 or of hunger and starvation due to the nationwide lockdown. We need to ask tough questions, at the risk of being called ‘anti-national’.

Every leader — from US President Donald Trump to German Chancellor Angela Merkel — is answering questions and making themselves available for their people.

So, here are the five questions I would ask PM Modi. Here’s hoping they reach the man of the hour and get answered.

Also read: Indians are fighting against coronavirus and BJP IT cell is fighting against Indians

Is ‘jugaad’ the way forward in India? Where are the PPEs?

Expecting medical staff to fight coronavirus without personal protective equipment or PPEs is like sending a soldier to war without ammunition. According to HLL Lifecare Limited, a government-owned body authorised to procure PPEs, India needs a million PPEs. However, the ministry of health says India needs 17 million PPEs and has placed orders for the same. Who are we supposed to trust?

Why are all frontline workers — medical and police personnel — not being equipped with N95 masks and sanitisers? Why are we expecting that surgical or cloth masks will work? Is ‘jugaad’ the way forward in India even in a health emergency. We cannot afford to lose our frontline workers for a simple reason: If medical staff in hospitals starts contracting Covid-19, then patients will be harmed, and the hospital will also have to be shutdown. Wockhardt Hospital was shut down in Mumbai and called a Covid-19 containment zone after 26 nurses and three doctors tested positive. Three hundred medical staffers have been quarantined in the hospital. Why? Because they were not given PPEs and told to wear surgical masks, which evidently did not protect them.

Lucknow’s King George’s Medical University was also shut after 65 of its trauma centre employees came in contact with a Covid-19 patient.

A hospital in Punjab saw 45 of its doctors and medical staff resign after one of its senior doctors contracted Covid-19 due to the unavailability of PPEs.

The Delhi State Cancer Institute (DSCI) has also been shut after its two doctors and 16 nursing staff have tested Covid-positive.

The list is endless Modi ji. My question is already too long. I would probably be thrown out of this fantasy press conference by now.

Also read: More than 300 Indians have died of the coronavirus, and nearly 200 of the lockdown

Why is Amit Malviya still in election mode? 

PM Modi are you aware that you’ve handed over your IT cell to a man who refuses to check his calendar? Can someone please inform Amit Malviya that we are in April 2020 and that May 2019 is long gone, and that the BJP has won with a thumping majority? And you have also got Madhya Pradesh back. He can stop talking about the last three months seeing an “Islamic insurrection of sorts” because the new villain on the block is coronavirus — and it doesn’t have a political ideology.

It would be nice if Malviya could use his 32 lakh strong WhatsApp group members for relief and awareness campaigns instead of stoking disharmony and communal fissures by continuously peddling fake narratives against Muslims. We know old habits die hard, but please get back to the hate-mongering after this pandemic is over in India. And only PM Modi has the power to stop Malviya from this slippery ‘we hate Muslims’ slope at this time.

Also read: India to get over 3 lakh PPE this month, Reliance, TikTok, Red Cross among major donors

How’s the research on ‘gaumutra as hand sanitisers’ going? 

Suman Haripriya, BJP MLA from Assam, has been propagating that cow urine, if sprayed, purifies an area much like a sanitiser. She said: “We all know that cow dung is very helpful. Likewise, when cow urine is sprayed, it purifies an area… I believe something similar could be done with ‘gaumutra’ and ‘gobar’ to cure coronavirus (disease).”

Vallabh Kathiria, chairman of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog who at one point was Gujarat’s Union minister of state for health and family welfare, has said that “use of cow urine kills bacteria and would definitely be helpful in fighting the coronavirus”. Although he is an oncology surgeon, it will be nice to send Kathiria a gentle reminder that bacterias and viruses are not the same.

The problem is, helpless Indians start believing these ‘hacks’ and amplifying them.

We thought the government was going to arrest people peddling fake news about coronavirus?

In fact, BJP activist Narayan Chatterjee was arrested in Bengal after a man, who fell ill after consuming cow urine at the cow urine party that Chatterjee had organised, complained to the police. BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu still defended Chatterjee by saying that “it has not been proved whether it is harmful or not”.

Also read: Enough of mann ki baat Modiji. Covid-19 war is the time to take some questions

Where is our home minister — Amit Shah? 

Yes, that’s just about it. That’s enough of a statement in a question.

Will your core voters — the middle class — who are quick to give gaalis (abuses) to anyone questioning thaalistaalisdiyas take up the jobs of migrant workers after they’re lost to hunger, fatigue or coronavirus due to the lockdown?

Where is the preparedness of the Modi government for the poor? The $3-trillion economy will remain a fantasy if left to the core voters of Narendra Modi — the Indian middle class.

If it has to become a reality, then it will have to ride on the backs of labourers and migrant workers who lift the brick and mortar of the high rises and 8-lane highways that the middle class uses to fill its coiffures with high flying jobs at multinationals. Respect the poor. Our manpower is our greatest asset. If we lose them to hunger or Covid or unemployment, India will be left with a vacuum that can never be filled by the entitled nouveau riche.

Waiting eagerly for your answers, prime minister.

The author is a political observer and writer. Views are personal.

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  1. How much is ISI paying you to write this shit? You have any integrity, well I guess NO?

    If it comes to a particular segment the vote bank politics and their mistress media comes into action and when the majority suffers then Malaviya, IT cell and all shit starts. the print should be banned!

    • What is wrong up there just because you are modi fan not a responsible citizen so you can tell anyone who is against modi is paid by ISI

  2. Our PM feels comfortable only when asked questions on as to how and which fruits he eats, and probably by those who are actors, as he himself is one such- of the biggest kind.

  3. Journalists like you are blot to journalistic ethics and integrity. You are totally biased and you represent hate Modi brigade. So you are not a journalist but dalal patrakar.

    • Mr S.Patil: When you bray:

      “You are totally biased and you represent hate Modi brigade”

      the question that arises is:

      What are your own biases ? If you can be a diehard Modi bhakth and uncritically accept everything that your Führer demnds of you, why can’t there be other voices that refuse to bleat like you ?

      And of course, you impotence in being able to muster arguments is all the more evident when one notices that the only thing you are capable of doing is hurling abuses.

      Pathetic !

  4. Ms. Sikander is BACK!
    With another diatribe no less!
    She subtitles her piece “ But this is not election-time or opposition-mud-slinging time, India is facing“. – but her piece is an incoherent piece throwing mud at the PM.
    She appears to be part of the Print’s affirmative action appointees – hired to appease minorities under a facade of “fair and balanced’ reporting.
    Wasted space and ink.

  5. Hope you haven’t done proper research. You expressed your worry against migrated labour.. Valid…
    But do you know what actions has been taken by the Indian Govt ?
    You just go to the labour camps and do your research.. you will came to know how Dist admin is working and how migrated labour has Been taken care…
    Every body is sitting in their houses but these Authorities are working in the labour camps…

    If these leaders will attend interviews and answering your questions who will give instructions to the Authorities?

    “Organising and executing “ is more important than answering your questions, let the govt and Modi ji work

  6. The 5 Questions asked by Shri Zainab Sikander are like the 5 Pandavas in these Karuna Corona Virus times! Each a gem on its own. The 1st Question presumably is by inference, when will Mr. Modi start answering a Press Conference?
    I believe it is now foolish to ask such questions as these 5, especially off a PM who like most of us, is unaware of what the Tomorrow will become, post COVID-19. The new normal under Chinese hegemony? New normal under work from home, social distancing….? So many other questions beyond the Hindu~Moslem divides. This asking religious/communal/secular laden Questions as these at such times will annihilate ourselves while quarreling or communally fighting as we vaporize. Madness !!! We are at the brink of a possible collapse of our Civilization, or whatever is left of it folks.
    Will the PM catapult to Chinese and go on a “I am the 1st Century Best Ever Leader “or become a nationalist, fighting every inch for India and Indians? Will he redeem his big talks and the “I am your Messiah” and prove himself lie Yudhisthira. Will he walk his talk or turn out like a trumpeting fake? Remains to be seen….by us, our conscious successors and also by Jagannath, according to my values.
    Mankind is doomed, My perception this is-not only because of our religious divides but because of our inherent GREED. We have evolved into fraud, greedy, cunning human animals and not the calm, balanced, fir human beings in 2020. Can’t you understand our limitations?
    Let the PRINT Paper discuss such other less mundane and more prophetic issues instead of limited ones as in these 5 Questions to the Indian PM. For our children from Hindu/Moslem/Sikh/Christian/under-nourished Indigenous families.
    There are bigger answers the PM is surely willing to give but is not because no one is asking him! Provided he is our Savior and he truly believes he will do or die to save India i.e Bharat.
    Let us all rise to the occasion for it is now or never!

  7. why are there such pointed views about Modi? India has had an unprecendented problem and an equally audacious action. the PM has done everything possible to corral this disease. with India’s population, expect leaks to happen and the disease to carry on killing people. Why blame the middle class? i think without the middle class, India would lose its stability.

    do you know the scale of the problem? have you evaluated the magnitude that this country faces? no healthcare system in the world (PPEs or no) will be able to tolerate the barrage of cases that may arise. lockdown is a defensive strataegy and that is the best that can be done in the short term. testing cannot be widespread in India because of the dense population.

    if cow urine is propagated by an MLA, why get Modi to be answerable? these kinds of articles are kill joys in the print world.

    the migrant worker problem is unprecedented because of the numbers and not because the government overlooked it. the government is in a catch-22 situation. damned if they do something and damned if they dont.

    the print is better of writing unbiased articles and rewarding such authors. please done encourage these kind of writers who are guilty of the very prejudice that they accuse others of.

  8. “Sharp as usual, is Zainab Sikander” AS Mr.Shekhar Gupta introduced the writer as “great”,I read the article with keen interest.No doubt she is SHARP. If you have patron like Guptaji you can get anything published. That is All.I don’t expect to get my comment published

    • You comment got published didn’t it Mr BALAGANGADHARAN V O ?

      But that apart, are you trying to say that the elected PM of the country must not be asked probing questions like most other democratically elected leaders do ? Or should Indian media become fawning mouthpieces of the peddlers of Hindutva ? Become clones of Arnab Goswami’s hideous Republic TV ? Is that waht you want Sir ?

      Pathetic !

  9. The author’s agony is understood … following the anti-Triple Talaq act, removal of Art-370 & 35A, J&K & Ladakh becoming UTs, the Ayodhya mandir becoming a reality, shameful humbling of Pak within it’s own territory, at our borders & on the world stage a number of times, NSA being given additional powers, the anti-CAA protests flopping miserably with Shaheenbagh providing nothing more than Coronavirus infection to many of the participants and comic relief to the onlookers, implementation of CAA gathering momentum (with NRC, NPR & UCC to be following soon), the Tablighis failing in their dastardly harakiri plans to wipe out lakhs of Indians, Modi succeeding well in getting voluntary support from all Indians in his battle against Coronavirus and Modi being acknowledged as one of the greatest world leaders by all, with the high & mighty overseas .. turning to him for help and praising him effusively on his prompt response … the author and others of his/her ilk are at their wits end !! 😄😄

  10. Doesn’t the author of this article know that Modi will speak only to journalists and not to DALALS, to news reporters and not news manufacturers ?

  11. The questions raised in this Article are somewhat juvenile.Certainly relevant questions of significance need to be raised instead of the outpourings of hatred for Mr.Modi.Yes,Mr.Modi should address Press Conferences during these trying times.He should overcome his repugnance for the Media despite its relentless demonising of him from 2002 to 2014.He is capable of handling even the most inconvenient interrogations.
    Coming to the Questions,the Author should have known how even USA and Western countries faced acute shortage of hospital space and a range of medical supplies.SOS TO CHINA for even Masks by these countries were frequent.Considering these India has handled the situation creditably.If only instead of finding fault with the Govt. the community at large should pitch in with all help as happened in KERALA..As a Keralite I can vouch for the contribution of the average Malayalee to the successful efforts in controlling the epidemic.
    As for the Cows Urine and its therauputical effects,freedom of opinions is available to every Indian.Modi did not advocate it although Ayurveda considers it as a source material for medications.And by the way,beef eaters eat every part of the cow including all its vital parts.
    The remaining questions are also equally irrelevant.

  12. So, how does this work?

    Anybody can write for ‘ThePrint’?

    Coz apparently you have set no standards, I mean look at this garbage of a piece

  13. There is no doubt that India is passing trough a tough time, with no surety of regaining national health as well as economy. As a matter of fact it is a question of our nationa security. But unfortunately some of the famous journalists and the media warriors take sadistic pleasure in highlighting the pitiable condition of the weaker sectios of our society, perhaps making it look like a cause for the poor, gaining for their own image, very well knowing the pausity of the current economic resources, and making it look as if the PM is personnaly responsible for the present conditions.

    1. The money which should have been used for procuring the PPEs, is presently in the personal accounts of the old rulers. We will get enough PPEs if only all those who are challenging the money owed while on bail could pay it to the exchequer pending the court decision. Now will the someone name those rulers like Modi has been named and questioned?
    In absence of such an action JUGGAD is the only way forward unless there is a better suggestion.
    2.That is his job, just a you keep writing.
    3.‘Gaumutra’,‘gobar’ and kamdhenu are beliefs, like the unsubstantiated and even ridiculous as some it call them from all walks of belief systems.
    4. Amit Shah will appear at the right time to correct things which have come to the fore during the lock down periods. Just as he appeared in time to correct the 370& 35A .
    Be patient.

  15. PPEs are certainly a worry. Not just Wockhardt, fifteen important hospitals in Bombay are immobilised in the fight against the pandemic because their doctors and nurses have been infected. There has been so much loose talk of fighting two front wars in the last few years. What if the virus was a hostile act by an enemy. How well prepared are we and how swiftly can we scale up and keep ourselves safe.

  16. Zainab Sikander, I appreciate the time you spend on Modi in general. It would be have been really nice to see you asking questions to which you really wanted any answers. You have a good platform in The Print, please use it ask questions that may shed more light on things, rather than reflect your stand via veiled questions.
    If this article was a piece of satire, well then I should not have commented.

  17. A bigoted political party activist masquerading as journalist asking politically motivated questions.

  18. This article is a good example of the fake, attention seeking, cafe latte-sipping, left liberal media at its very best.

    Ridiculous questions, devoid of any constructive suggestions.

    • Mr Mohammad James: Aren’t you supposed to ask probing questions of your elected leaders in a democracy ? Or are you supposed to behave like the sycophantic subjects of North Korean supremo Kin Jong Un?

      Not much guessing needed to tell who is posing “ridiculous questions” here !

  19. Just wanna know you’re a educated fellow right ?
    Public health is a State subject. Why don’t you direct some against State CMs ?

    Don’t be a Publicity scavenger by attacking Modi for everything.

  20. Here is prescription for all the ills of writer. Neither faced death nor paid jaziya and you converted . Why should you suffer for someone’s cowerdice. Let’s return to your fold. Its free society,complete freedom,I mean aazadi. If any doubts please check it out from guptaji.

  21. My first article from your magazine.
    Waste of my time.
    You guys dont even have the right questions to ask.

    • And I know very well as to what could be a right question?
      “Aapney kabhi cheeku khaya hai ke nahi? Khaya hai to chhilka nikalkey ya chhilkey ke saath? Kyonki saarey vitamins to chhilkey hi mein rehtey hain.

  22. No answer !!! Probability is, one can’t face the public or media or someone else with so little knowledge of words, reason and literacy !! We are being told about gospels,fairy tales, words of ideology and some irreverent story when we need some concrete words regarding health issues, food problems , great exodus of bonded laborers from one state to another etc…!! Every day people are being compelled to starvation …to death, Doctors are subjected to harassment, life at threat and prone to virus infection .WHY ? A BIG QUESTION IS…WHY ?Because, only lip service and nothing else by our P.M!!!

  23. You know your questions are actually valid, but when I read your article out loud I could sense your tone in which you’ve written it, which is so pathetic and petty, we need people like you in this country to keep governments in check, everyone shouldn’t be pro-state or a Modi bhakt, but I think you should re-evaluate the tone in which you write, no body takes an angry dissident seriously, more so when he writes like an insufferable know it all who has personal hatred towards a person who is right now the biggest and most formidable power figure in this country and a role model to many (you may disagree but it is true, crores of people admire and approve of him). So if your ultimate goal is to give your sense to these people and explain them how their favourite Modi has not done enough, you better do it in a tone they like and appreciate, but if the idea is just to write a harsh article and prove a point to someone then keep on doing it, I’m sure you’re making enough money to justify it, no one is taking it seriously for sure. More power to you. Kisses 😘

  24. Two sadhus along with their driver were lynched. The jihadist would want to divert attention. Professionals are answering questions on COVID19 instead of politicians which is exactly how it should be. MODIJI don’t let urban NAXALS and jihadist divert attention from lynching of SADHUS

  25. You are writing about a pandemic. Amit Shah and Amit Malaviya are irrelevant for the time being. Come out of political mode. Quick! Why are you tickled with the idea of having dialog with the PM? Aren’t health ministry officials holding daily press briefing? I think Pakistan press would love to publish your trash. Some Indians do write for Pak press, do you know?

  26. The second question should be what is your plan for economic revival? How long will it take? Then, how many people are expected to die due to starvation? Then, why are the quarantine quarters for 20 migrants with a single bathroom provided? What should be considered acceptable? Focus on questions that are critical and need answers.

  27. What is the contribution of this author to this country.How many migrant workers he has feeded till date. How many masks he has donated free.

    • Nonsense Mr V.B.Gupta !

      The author is a citizen and has the right to hold elected politicians to account. It is the duty of the PM and his government to feed migrants, provide masks, help them with transportation etc. etc. But in your perverted worldview, a deeply flawed, uncaring politician like Modi is treated as a cultleader, some sort of “swami” or demi-god who cannot be criticised and must be worshipped. And what is worse, in your overzealousness, you attack people who ask probing, legitimate questions of their elected leaders rather than uphold their democratic rights to speak truth to power.

      Sorry pal, Modi may be your Führer whom you salute uncritically. But don’t expect everyone to share those views.

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