Rahul Gandhi writes to PM Modi, highlights grave outcome of total lockdown, suggests nuanced approach

Number of poor people in India dependent on daily income is too large to unilaterally shut down all economic activity. It will disastrously amplify death toll arising from corona, Rahul Gandhi writes

Congress President Rahul Gandhi (Social Media)
Congress President Rahul Gandhi (Social Media)
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NH Web Desk

As the Modi government on Sunday instructed state governments on Sunday to put the migrant labourers returning home after the nation wide lockdown was announced under the 14-day mandatory quarantine, Congress leader and member of parliament from Wayanad has written to the prime minister to consider a more nuanced approach to the entire issue

In another blow to the already suffering migrant labourers and daily wagers in the aftermath of the lockdown, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a statement on Sunday stating that “Those who have violated the lockdown and traveled during the period of lockdown will be subject to minimum 14 days of quarantine in government quarantine facilities. Detailed instructions on monitoring of such persons during quarantine have been issued to states,”

The Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in his letter to the prime minister has highlighted the plights of daily wagers and said that although he stands in solidarity with him and the entire country and would like to cooperate as much as he can with the government in fighting the coronavirus, the country and its citizens need much more than a general locdown to survive and at the same time contain the deadly infection.

“We will be required to take different steps than other large countries who are following a total lockdown strategy. The number of poor people in India who are dependent on a daily income is simply too large for us to unilaterally shut down all economic activity. The consequences of a complete economic shut down will disastrously amplify the death toll arising from the Covid-19 virus,” Rahul Gandhi said.

Suspecting that the government may extend this lockdown even further, the Congress leader has suggested some valid steps to fight the spread of coronavirus:

  • The government should protect and isolate the elderly and vulnerable from the virus and to clearly and strongly communicate to the young the dangers of proximity to older people.
  • Complete lockdown will only result in shutting down of the economic engine and millions going unemployed. The youth will rush to villages thus endangering their parents and families in the villages. This will result in catastrophic loss of life.
  • Therefore we must immediately strengthen the social safety net and use every public resource we have to support and shelter the working poor.
  • We need to manufacture ventilators, beds and equipment required as fast as humanly possible and we need to increase the number of tests.
  • We need to focus on helping small factories and the working poor who have no money to sustain through the lockdown.
  • It is also absolutely critical that we set up a defensive wall around our key financial and strategic institutions to protect them from the shock wave that is bound to come as the true impact of the virus and our economic shutdown hits us a few weeks from now.

Here is the full text of Rahul Gandhi’s letter to PM Modi:

“I would like to express to you my solidarity and the solidarity of millions of workers of the Congress party at this time, when our nation is facing an immense humanitarian crisis. We are all doing our utmost to cooperate with the steps the government is taking to fight the Coronavirus outbreak in India.

The world has been forced to take urgent, immediate measures to contain the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus and India is currently in the midst of a three-week lockdown. I suspect that the government will eventually extend this even further.

It is critical for us to understand that India's conditions are unique. We will be required to take different steps than other large countries who are following a total lockdown strategy. The number of poor people in India who are dependent on a daily income is simply too large for us to unilaterally shut down all economic activity. The consequences of a complete economic shut down will disastrously amplify the death toll arising from the Covid-19 virus.

It is important that the government consider a nuanced approach that takes the complex realities of our people into consideration. Our priority must be to protect and isolate the elderly and vulnerable from the virus and to clearly and strongly communicate to the young the dangers of proximity to older people.


Millions of India’s elderly live in villages. A complete lockdown and the resulting shut down of our economic engine will almost certainly ensure that millions of unemployed youth rush back to their villages, increasing the risk of infecting their parents and the elderly population living there. This will  result in a catastrophic loss of life.

We must immediately strengthen the social safety net and use every public resource we have to support and shelter the working poor.  Large population centres will require big dedicated hospitals with thousands of beds and ventilators. It is critical that we start setting up these structures and manufacturing the equipment that would be required, as fast as is humanly possible. At the same time we need to dramatically increase the number of tests that we are carrying out to get an accurate picture of the spread of the virus and to contain it.

The sudden lockdown has created immense panic and confusion. Factories, small industries and construction sites have closed, tens of thousands of migrant labourers are trying to walk home to their villages and are stranded at various state borders. They are rendered totally vulnerable without their daily wages or access to nutrition and basic services. They are struggling to reach far away homes and seek refuge. It is important that we help them find shelter and provide them with money directly into their bank accounts to help them tide over the next few months.

It is also absolutely critical that we set up a defensive wall around our key financial and strategic institutions to protect them from the shock wave that is bound to come as the true impact of the virus and our economic shutdown hits us a few weeks from now. Our informal economy and immense network of small and medium businesses and farmers are going to be vital to any rebuilding effort. It is crucial that we engage them in a conversation, build their confidence and protect their interests with correct and timely action.

We stand together with the government in fighting and overcoming this tremendous challenge.”

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Published: 29 Mar 2020, 3:45 PM