Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law and Justice, Communications, Electronics and IT, speaks to The Indian Express on the need to de-communalise the COVID-19 outbreak and how the outbreak will change the world,
What have you done to ensure that the digital ecosystem can handle this major shift in the economy?
This is the first challenge that India’s great IT success story should not be disrupted. The first thing I did was to permit work from home in the most liberal manner, which required relaxing the rules of big deposit, of authorised permission of TSPs, etc… I foresee, the world is going to become a different world post-COVID… Work from home may become the new norm. I have asked my department to work with a robust mechanism so that India’s work from home model is economical and beneficial…
What are that risks you foresee?
When the world is grappling with whether to do the lockdown or not, PM Modi took a great risk and I’m very proud of my leader… civil services have also risen in great heights, managing people in isolation, tracing victims’ contact, feeding so many people. The other asset is that whether it is the stakeholders, the business community, or the traders, all have realised that in the course that the PM has adopted, saving lives is most important… I can never say there will not be difficulty. But there will also be opportunity.
For example, India is a big centre for electronic manufacturing… I am very keen that under the encouragement of the PM, we shall become the top manufacturer in the world post-COVID.
But as you are now closed, China’s factories are working again.
I don’t want to make any comment on China. Many countries have even stopped having any trade linkage with them… I foresee the world will look towards India…
The economy has taken a hit and the state governments are demanding more funds from the Centre daily. Won’t this disrupt all the cooperation you describe?
You don’t become the proponent of doomsday in this crisis. The PM has always talked of Team India. Already it has worked well…Whatever is further required shall be done.
There seems to be a noticeable blindspot when the lockdown was announced — the unorganised sector, the migrants. How did the government not foresee this?
You are not properly informed. Lots of migrants come from my state. The government of Bihar is running nearly 13 feeding centres…I appreciate all state governments for taking care of them… Anand Vihar was where it started and could have been avoided by the local administration.
Explained | Indian migrants, across India
But even before Anand Vihar, mass migration was taking place.
They were stopped in many places. But then Anand Vihar came. But even they have been segregated and quarantined in all districts. The larger issue was not difficulty in surviving…but the quest to return home…
Some are saying the virus came from passport holders, but the affected were the ration card holders
There are two things here. I get a lot of calls to get my daughter from Dehradun, my son from Kota. That is a valid concern, but I can’t help. I can counsel, and I don’t grudge their emotional stress. As for passports, that is a substantial fact. For example, what happened in Nizamuddin. If the Tablighi issue had not had been there, maybe the issue would have been under control.
There appears to be an attempt to communalise this issue by repeatedly picking up this incident.
The party president has stated publicly. The PM has said this virus does not see geography, religion or race… those who are in the wrong, action must be taken. But no one should communalise it… I also appeal to religious leaders to…dissuade any community from resorting to violence with doctors…
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