Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the biggest lesson from the coronavirus pandemic was that it has taught people to become self-reliant. People have for ages been saying that the country has to become self-sufficient and dealing with the pandemic has put the focus on the urgent need for it, Modi told panchayat members across the country via videoconferencing on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day.
It was the responsibility of every citizen to strengthen the panchayat system and people should strive to make villages, district, states, and eventually the country, to become self-reliant, Modi said.
“Coronavirus has brought new challenges before us that we had not even thought about. The pandemic has taught us a new lesson. We have to become self reliant. We have to become self-reliant so that we are able to sustain ourselves. Our villages, districts, states, and country have to become self-sufficient. Our elders have always taught us to become self sufficient and now it has become the need of the hour," the Prime Minister told panchayat members.
The fight against the covid-19 pandemic was being led by the villages of India, Modi said.
“The villages in India have given the mantra of do gaj doori to define social distancing in simpler terms, to fight the coronavirus pandemic," he said.
There is a pandemic in the world and in India, but the people of this country have shown the world in the last two to three months that Indians were ready to fight against the coronavirus threat even with limited resources, said the Prime Minister. “It is such a big pandemic but in the last two to three months we have seen that people of India were fighting against the pandemic even with limited resources. People were ready to fight against the pandemic but not give up," he said.
Modi also launched the eGram Swaraj app and the Swamitva Yojana during the video conferencing. The app will allow more “transparency in gram panchayats, record keeping will be simpler, and completion of projects will also be swifter", he said. The Swamitva Yojana will help map properties in villages with the help of drones, which would help end disputes. “Like cities, people in the villages too will be able to easily take loans against their property, which in turn can help them achieve a lot," the Prime Minister said.
Five or six years ago, fewer than 100 villages had access to broadband services, but now more than 125,000 panchayats have access to broadband, which has made life easier, Modi said.
The Prime Minister then went on to interact with a number of village panchayat heads from Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra and Assam, among others who shared their experiences about the lockdown and also spoke about the steps they have taken, particularly to help farmers even as while ensuring social distancing in mandis and seller markets.
“It is very important for farmers to be healthy. They feed us. It is farmers who have ensured that even during the lockdown we have easy access to fruits, vegetables, foodgrain, and milk," Modi said.
The Prime Minister also discussed the plight of migrants in a discussion with a sarpanch from Bihar. It was natural for those stuck in cities of other states to think of their homes and miss their families, but the panchayat members should constantly be in touch with them over the phone as that will make them feel good, he said. Modi also said that all panchayat members should ensure that the Aarogya Setu app is downloaded by people in the village so that it helps in keeping them safe.