Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation on the issue of coronavirus | Screengrab
A file photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation on the issue of coronavirus | Screengrab
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New Delhi: News channels Thursday were focused on the coronavirus pandemic and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-anticipated address to the nation at 8 pm on it. Aaj Tak highlighted the panic hoarding prior to the prime minister’s speech after rumours of a total lockdown while Zee News dispelled these rumours. Republic TV was all praises for Modi but NDTV 24×7 and India Today remained skeptical.

On Aaj Tak’s ‘Dangal’, anchor Rohit Sardana showed clips of empty supermarkets that were raided by people who feared a lockdown after Modi’s address. Sardana questioned how Modi would address the issues surrounding COVID-19 as “ek taraf corona ka challenge hain, dusri taraf iska aarthik assar” (on one hand there are coronavirus challenges and on the other the economic impact).

 He remarked that this public health crisis also brought political opportunism with it— “Corona pe rajnitik rotiya sekne ke bhi kami nahi hai” (There is no shortage of political opportunism due to coronavirus).

Zee News put all these rumours to rest with the special ‘Abki baar afwah prachan prahar’ (now an attack on rumours)— quite a mouthful. The anchor said more than the infection, coronavirus had caused rumor-mongering. She asked BJP MP Pratap Chandra Sarangi about the rumours, who denied any such lockdown. Sarangi also warned against deceitful, selfish people who had turned to hoarding and black market trade to feast upon people’s anxiety, underlining that there was no “panic situation”.

ABP News kept things light with their ‘coronakodhona’ campaign featuring veteran cricketers Arun Lal, Virendra Sehwag, and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt. They all reminded viewers to — you guessed it — wash their hands. ‘Viru paaji‘ also told viewers to wear masks at all times and to maintain a distance of at least three metres.

The real debates began after Modi’s address. NDTV 24×7’s Anchor Vishnu Som called the speech an “effort at public training at a mass level” on ‘Left, Right, Centre’. He questioned whether it was a “smart initial move”. Medanta Chairman Dr. Naresh Trehan thought so, he called the speech an “extremely well crafted communication” for the public, which was direct and called upon people to fight against an “invisible enemy”. Dr. Dang’s Lab founder Dr. Navin Dang also felt it was an intelligent and “non-technical” address for the common masses. He disagreed with Som’s critique about not addressing the issue of low testing, saying that this was not the right forum to talk about it.

Republic TV host Arnab Goswami waxed eloquent about Modi and said the speech “tactically touched upon our conscience”. He said that the address called for asymptomatic, young and healthy people to function in the interest of the country.

Economist Sanjeev Sanyal agreed wholeheartedly, “We may be a poor country, but we are rich in social capital and he (Modi) is leveraging that social capital.”

On India Today, Rajdeep Sardesai was not quite as convinced. Was it the right message, or could it have been more specific, he asked.

K. Sujatha Rao, former union health secretary, admitted that while Modi had the “extraordinary ability” to break down complex information, she was disappointed by the speech. She wished he had spoken about increasing the budget for public health action and more testing, labs, etc.

On Times Now’s ‘The Newshour with Navika Kumar’ there were murmurs of skepticism too.

Kumar lauded Modi’s initiative to make people clap in their balconies during the ‘Janta curfew’ to thank those providing essential services, and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also made a heartfelt pledge to “stand with India to fight this pandemic called corona”.

However, political analyst Tauseef Ur Rehman said he was more interested to know about the existing health facilities in India, including the number of available hospital beds, how many isolation centers existed, if masks would be handed out for free and how hospitals were being sanitised.

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6 Comments Share Your Views

6 COMMENTS

  1. According to Sardesai and Vishnu Som, Modi has not done anything right. It is obviously the stupidity of people of this country which keeps him in power. With the wealth of knowledge these gentlemen have they can only ask questions and claim that as their right. The questions always come in the form of “some people want to know” or “Some will say”
    Who are these SOME PEOPLE?
    They are like the organizers of protests with women and children in front. SOME PEOPLE

  2. Intelligent bakchodi.After making allthe constitutional institution strand gender including SC now an attempt to make the junta hijda asking to clap it’s hands and ring bells to increase the BP of senior citizens so let them die of BP than the corona.what an idea sirji to help covid19 to reduce population of India without any effort.

  3. India is 100 years back in tech due to this type of people. Even in a national calamity, if this type pro Pakistan / Congress people talk then they deserve all sorts of grave punishments. Chinese people showed solidarity with Govts move and hence achieved in containing the virus in a short period. Don’t know when this type of lunatics will correct themselves. There should not be politics in everything.

  4. Sir i want to know
    In industries and factories more then 100 to 5000 persons are working with each other and using same machines tools eating food in canteens and mess they are spent there 8 to 12 hrs in between so many peoples i think there’s many risks to increase the covid-19 please take necessary action to avoid this problem
    i think it is very urgent and serious matter

  5. Arnab Goswami and other journalists like him will deserve to lose their “Journalist License”, if indeed there is such a thing, in post-Modi India.

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