New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his virtual speech on the occasion of Buddha Purnima Thursday, projected India as a responsible country that is fulfilling its “duty” to selflessly serve the entire world amid the Covid-19 pandemic by making tireless efforts to supply medicines.
Modi made it a point to mention two important Buddhist sites that also have political significance today — Bodh Gaya in Bihar (where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment), where elections are to be held in October, and Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is making a large Dalit outreach. The address was also designed as an outreach to Buddhist nations around the world.
He also tried to motivate people to keep fighting the Covid-19 crisis in India, and help the needy in whatever way they can.
Pharmacy of the world
The PM said India is standing strongly behind anyone in crisis in the country and anywhere in the world, discarding considerations of “profit and loss, powerful or weak”. He said this is the reason why many countries remembered India in these times of crisis, and the nation has left no stone unturned in extending help while making all efforts to save the countrymen.
He also said those who serve humankind are the actual followers of Buddha.
India is supplying the drug hydroxychloroquine, which is being used among Covid-19 patients and healthcare workers, to more than 100 countries, and Modi reiterated that the country is the “pharmacy of the world”, as he had also said in his address to the Non-Aligned Movement summit three days ago.
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“Indian civilisation sees the world as one family. We care for our own citizens, and we are also extending help to other countries,” the PM said.
An official involved in the effort to supply these pharmaceuticals to other countries told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity: “The PM sees this pandemic as an opportunity to reach out and help other countries, at a time when China is facing criticism from around the world and the US is focussing on protecting its own people. India is the only country that’s reaching out with medicines, which will not only boost the country’s standing in the global order, but the PM’s image as global leader.”
A BJP leader, who is part of this global outreach, added: “India is the world’s top manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine, and this pandemic has given the PM an opportunity to help the world.
“The PM’s image as a global leader was damaged due to the anti-CAA protests — what could be a bigger setback than the Delhi riots during US President Donald Trump’s high-profile visit? But the PM takes every crisis as an opportunity, and he seized the moment, despite the bureaucracy’s opposition to supplying hydroxychloroquine to other countries.”
In the two months, PM Modi has spoken to three dozen heads of state and heads of government, and addressed three international summits — SAARC on 15 March, G20 on 25 March and NAM on 4 May — to forge a global partnership to fight Covid-19. All this is part of a major diplomatic exercise launched in March.
Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office told ThePrint that he calls one world leader almost every day, asks about their well-being and the Covid situation in their country, and talks about the need for joint research on drugs and vaccines. He also updates these leaders about India’s research progress.
So far, he has spoken to the leaders of the US, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Canada, Japan, Singapore, South Afria, Portugal and Sweden, among others, while also reaching out to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, Maldives, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
The PM’s Buddha Purnima speech was not just aimed at a foreign audience, but was also a way to motivate people in India.
“There are several people around us who are working 24 hours to help others, to maintain law and order, to cure infected person and maintain vigilance by sacrificing their own comforts. All such people deserve appreciation and honour,” Modi said in his speech.
A BJP general secretary told ThePrint: “The PM is a big influencer; people believe in his words. This is not the time for politics, but his message is to fight the Covid-19 crisis. Thousands of people are stuck in different parts of the country, and the government is fighting the situation, but he is motivating people to understand the magnitude of the situation and fight for a better life without surrendering.”
Another BJP leader said: “The PM understands both the medium and the message. Buddha’s life was full of sacrifice and service. This is the need of the hour. People should not close their door, but come out to help the needy. He is motivating corona-warriors like nurses and doctors, individual and NGOs, through his larger massage.”
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