Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made a heartfelt appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convince the nation not through words but deeds. Singh said India was facing a three-prong challenge of coronavirus, economic slowdown and protests and riots across the country.
In a column written by Manmohan Singh for The Hindu, the former Prime Minister says, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi must convince the nation, not merely through words but by deeds, that he is cognisant of the dangers we face and reassure the nation that he can help us tide over this as smoothly as we can."
Singh says that he worries that the "potent combination" of social disharmony, economic slowdown and global health epidemic "may not only rupture the soul of India but also diminish our global standing as an economic and democratic power in the world".
The Congress leader in his column for the daily lamented that while university campuses, public places and private homes are bearing the brunt of communal violence, "institutions of law and order have abandoned their dharma to protect citizens". "Institutions of justice and the fourth pillar of democracy, the media, have also failed us," he added.
Singh said that it is futile to point out past instances of violence to justify present instances of violence in the country. "Just in a matter of few years, India has slid rapidly from being a global showcase of a model of economic development through liberal democratic methods to a strife ridden majoritarian state in economic despair," he wrote in his column.
He added that social unrest would only exacerbate the economic slowdown faced by India. "Investors, industrialists and entrepreneurs are unwilling to undertake new projects and have lost their risk appetite. Social disruptions and communal tensions only compound their fears and risk aversion," said Manmohan Singh.
"No amount of tweaking of tax rates, showering of corporate incentives or goading will propel Indian or foreign businesses to invest, when the risk of eruption of sudden violence in one's neighbourhood looms large," he said referring to the slew of economic measures announced recently by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Singh added that the external threat of coronavirus is only making such a situation worse. Stating the measures that countries like China, Italy and the US have undertaken, Singh said that India too must prepare to face the coronavirus threat.
The former PM suggested a three point plan to take on the challenges - focus all efforts to contain COVID-19, amend or withdraw the Citizenship Act, put together a meticulous fiscal stimulus plan to boost consumption.
He concluded the column by saying that "a moment of deep crisis can also be a moment of great opportunity". He added that the coronavirus crisis can open up new opportunities for India to reinvigorate the economy. "The truth is that the current situation is very grim and morose. The India that we know and cherish is slipping away fast," he said. Manmohan Singh said that it is time to confront the harsh reality and face the challenges squarely and sufficiently.