Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday stressed the need for keeping the spirit of the country high to defeat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), saying that he expected help from the media in informing the people that they have nothing to panic about and not be "disappointed and dejected" as the government, along with the people of the country, is fully geared up to fight the pandemic effectively.
Speaking to 13 representatives of the television news industry this afternoon, Prime Minister Modi made an emotional appeal to them to help the government in effectively disseminating information to the masses.
"We need to tell every Indian to have faith in our capacity to deal with the epidemic and that they should not be dejected that we will be beaten. Nirash aur hataash hone ki zaroorat nahi hai. Haunsla buland rakhna hai. We must keep our spirit high to take on the COVID-19 head-on," said Prime Minister Modi while discussing with the key players of TV industry about the government's preparedness in dealing with the outbreak of coronavirus.
Apprising about ways and means to combat the spread of coronavirus, which has been declared by the WHO as a pandemic, Prime Minister Modi pressed for the need of social distancing in order to take the fight against Covid-19 to its logical conclusion.
"We do not need to panic, but we must be fearful of the consequences of not practicing social distancing. We have laboratories, testing kits but we need to go for social distancing," he said.
PM Modi gave the example of European nations which had the resources and facilities but because of not practicing social distancing, they have had to pay the price. However, Japan and South Korea managed to learn from the mistakes because of the discipline of their populations in obeying orders on social distancing.
"By virtue of social distancing and discipline, we would be able to defeat the disease, which even economically self-sufficient countries are not able to cope with. Imagine the kind of pressure we will face if we do not go for social-distancing and self-disciplining," he said, citing the example of South Korea and Japan.
"Social distancing is very important," he reiterated, while making the point that even the developed and rich countries have not been able to tame the disease by using their resources and funds they have."
The Prime Minister also said that a forum would be created where the media could give their input to the government on measures to control the spread of the communicable infection.
In an hour-long interaction, the Prime Minister listed a slew of measures which have been taken by various governmental departments and ministries like Health and Family Welfare; Civil Aviation; External Affairs, to treat and curb Covid-19.
The deadly respiratory disease has afflicted 433 people since January. Seven people have succumbed to the virus.
The TV industry players, who joined Prime Minister Modi in the interaction, included Smita Prakash from ANI, Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, Kartikeya Sharma of India News, Rajat Sharma of India TV, Rahul Joshi from TV 18, Subhash Chandra from Zee Group, Kalli Purie of TV Today, Rajeev Chandrashekhar of Asianet, Rahul Shivshankar of Times Now-Delhi, Vineet Jain of Times Now-Mumbai, Anuradha Prasad of News 24, Barun Das of TV9 and Avinash Pandey of ABP.
He also lauded the people's support to the 'Janata Curfew' on March 22 for which he had made an appeal to the countrymen in a televised address to the Nation last Thursday.
The Prime Minister at one point got emotional and choked back his tears while speaking about a TV interview of a doctor who was the only child of her parents and yet working with Covid cases and she said that if anything was to happen to her, she would expect that her parents would be taken care by society. He lauded the strength of health care workers like her who were working non-stop to stem the spread of the disease.
He appreciated the phenomenal support that Janta Curfew got yesterday from the people and by various media organisations in making it a success.
Sharing data and anecdotes on how the central government is leaving nothing unturned to win the battle against COVID-19, Prime Minister Modi expressed his disappointment over the way some people were indulging in 'alarmist' opinion about the disease, mentioning that arithmetic algorithms and dry data would just not work in motivating people to fight the illness.
Calling upon all stakeholders including media to join hands in the fight against the infection, Modi said, "Media should also help the government. We all are on the same page. We all have to break the chain of coronavirus."
The TV industry players on their part promised all support to the government in its fight against coronavirus.
They were also of the view that Prime Minister Modi and members of the government should also implement the norm of social distancing, adding that since Prime Minister Modi is a good communicator; the people would be motivated to practice social distancing if he would make the personal appeal again.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)