This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Praharsh Prasoon. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

A Case Of Misplaced Priorities During COVID-19: Mr Modi Could have Done Better

More from Praharsh Prasoon

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of the Unlock 1.0 has come as a welcome step. India finally stretches itself after the world’s strictest lockdown. While Modi must be hoping that this move would conceal most, if not all his shortcomings, and thereby save himself from criticism – something he keeps a strict do gaz ki doori (two-yards distance) from – it is high time he mulled his responsibilities as a leader. Or else, the nation he vows he would never allow perishing would soon be pulverized at his own hands.

In his editorial in the Times of India (30 May 2020), Home minister Amit Shah hailed the Prime Minister for his dynamic leadership. Shah highlighted the government’s “historic decisions” which “strengthened the roots of democracy.”

For the citizens and the leaders, much of the last six years went by debating the need of constructing of the Ram Temple, enacting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to filter out the “infiltrators,” scraping Article 370, and abolishing the triple talaq which, in Shah’s words, “liberated the Muslim women” (the same women his government shut, sidestepped, and, in many instances, even brutalized when they protested against the contentious CAA).

PM Modi addressing the nation on 12th May, 2020.

The Modi government prides itself on making what it considers to be pro-citizen and pro-democracy decisions, thereby fulfilling its “promises.” However, all their promises appear to have frayed in the coronavirus storm. The already-battered economy is toppling over even as it is prophesied to slip into recession for the first time in four decades; the unplanned lockdown ran uniformly strict across the country although the effect of the pandemic varied from district to district; and, the country witnessed the most heart-rending visuals of the migrant workers walking thousands of kilometres to their homes. In this pandemic, the Ram Temple, the CAA, and the abrogated Article 370 serve nobody except Modi and Shah’s defiled conscience.

Modi Could Have Done So Much Better Than He Did

While every country is battling many dire ramifications of the pandemic, India is the only one to have witnessed the mass exodus of migrant labourers. Hundreds of thousands of workers crisscrossed districts and states on foot. And along the trudge, many of them succumbed to the heat, hunger, and thirst. But the rest keep walking anyway, hitch-hiking in the way and sometimes fed by the onlookers. Why is the pandemic inconceivably harsh on them? What has made them put their lives at stake and walk all these miles? And whom do we hold accountable for this?

Surprisingly, PM Modi answers at least one of the questions. He says the migrant workers were forced to migrate because of the backwardness of eastern India.” “…the distress that our workforce is undergoing is representative of the country’s eastern region…the eastern region needs development.”

Mr Modi holds the highest leadership position in the country. But he responds as though he has absolutely no role to play in this tragedy. Why doesn’t he care to look within? Maybe, he thinks he has worked hard enough, and he should be content with his nth-hour deliverance: He announced a pan-India lockdown with less than four hours’ notice; Shramik Special Trains began plying the stranded labourers more than a month after the lockdown was announced; his government introduced the 20-lakh crore package as manna from heaven which he believes would be sufficient to deal with the current situation; the Aarogya Setu app, which scored 1 out of 5 stars in MIT tech review, has been made mandatory; oh, and keep the clapping and thali-banging aside.

In the last six years of the Modi regime, the debates could have been on India’s labour laws, economy, public health, and poverty, instead of or (in the worst case) before the Ram Mandir, CAA, Article 370, and triple talaq. That being the case, we would very likely have averted the sight of the dying and dead migrants; we wouldn’t have to fear the impending recession; and, we wouldn’t be choking with the lockdown that no developing country had the strength to bear.

It turns out that Modi’s “hard work” didn’t bear satisfactory results. He could have done way better. He didn’t. The thing is, it is not just about priorities. It is about the right ones!

You must be to comment.
  1. Akshay Gupta

    When the whole world is Praising India for its Steps during Global Pandemic. It’s us Indians who are there to Criticize our people. Moreover, let me take you into One scenario. if the Lockdown would not have happened then India would have lost somewhere. Also all the technical teams and Doctors, Scientists, Researchers give information to PM, CM, or any minister, He is just a communicator after the decision has been taken. GOI and all state governments have made marvelous efforts in spreading awareness for COVID-19. As per our population which is around 139 Crore, if lockdown was not announced on the right time 1/4 th of our population would have been affected with symptoms or asymptomatic. So let’s not criticize our leaders. Everybody has played their part.
    We should also spread positives and awareness regarding COVID-19

More from Praharsh Prasoon

Similar Posts

By Rafia khan

By Simran Pavecha

By Ritwik Trivedi

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below