How PM Modi and his 11 expert teams work 24 hours a day to save India from COVID-19
NEW DELHI: Determined to contain the spread of the dreaded virus in the community, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its large team of experts are working tirelessly to monitor the minute-by-minute development of any pandemic-related event in the country. From the announcement of the 21-day blockade to several key strategies to prevent community transmission in the second most populous country in the world, Prime Minister Modi's decisions are based on massive research and the collective opinion of the best experts.
In the midst of the unprecedented crisis of the COVID-19 outbreak, Prime Minister Modi has extended his work hours to 17-18 hours, often working at night until 3 a.m. or even more.
The series of meetings continues into the middle of the night, as the prime minister vigorously reviews the implementation of decisions made by various high-level groups formed to effectively control the pandemic, highly located sources told IANS.
In addition to frequent video conferencing from his camp office and consulting with key cabinet ministers on a daily basis, PM Modi works tirelessly with 11 dedicated teams of experts including doctors, bioscientists, epidemic experts and economists, each working in a separate group .
More about Covid-19 >
The main sources of the PMO revealed that the PM is currently more focused on the Emergency Medical Management Plan. The team dealing with this plan is chaired by a member of NITI Aayog and coordinated by Modi aide Rajendra Kumar, an official level director at PMO. These groups feed the core group that assists the Prime Minister, who in turn disseminates vital information to him.
Another area that concerns the PM is disease surveillance, testing, and the installation of hospitals and quarantines. This important team, which includes the AIIMS Director and ICMR's chief epidemic expert, Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar, is headed by C.K. Secretary of Mishra, Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change.
Prevention in India relies heavily on this crucial team.
PM Modi has kept two of his trusted PMO officers, Shrikhar Pardeshi and Mayur Maheshwari on this team.
Modiji keeps a close watch on the number of people tested (and their results) and also on the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. He seems determined in his effort to prevent the virus from spreading to large communities, says an official, a member of one of 11 groups formed to combat the pandemic.
While these core groups continue to update crucial information for PMO, Modi Principal Secretary P.K. Mishra remains in constant contact with experts.
He is assisted by two high-ranking bureaucrats, a 1988 IAS batch batch Haryana officer who has worked with the Prime Minister for the past five and five years, and A.K. Sharma, a trusted Modi officer from his days in Gujarat.
Most of the meetings and exchange of notes are held between Mishra and experts from different groups. However, if some crucial points are debated or important decisions are made urgently, it takes Mr Modi only a few minutes to join. The conversation revealed a source, adding: All of us adhere to social distancing. Even senior ministers follow the safe distance rule while talking to the prime minister.
In an outbreak of a pandemic on such a large scale, seen as the worst in the past 100 years, the Prime Minister realizes the contribution of the private sector, NGOs, international organizations and aid-related social groups.
A special team to coordinate with NGOs and the private sector has been working 24 hours under the leadership of Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog. Gopal Bagley, PMO Joint Secretary, is coordinating to mobilize leading fundraising NGOs and companies and is also organizing relief work on the ground on a larger scale.
Several large corporate houses, from Tatas, to Reliance and Bharti to the Adani group, have contributed a large amount to the PM Cares fund. The private sector, with the help of major NGOs, has also partnered with state governments and local administration to provide food and shelter to the poor throughout India.
The role of the media also plays a vital role in preventing this dreaded viral disease. Taking time out of his busy schedule these days, the prime minister recently interacted with top media moguls, including editors of television and newspaper channels. He also held a video conference with radio jockeys to spread the message of people fighting the pandemic.
Raising awareness of 'what to do and what not to do' in the COVID-19 spread, the PMO social media team led by Hiren Joshi works around the clock. PM Modi himself suggests uploading helpful messages for people staying at home during the 3-week lockdown.
The idea of uploading several yoga asanas to the Prime Minister's Twitter account was welcomed across the party lines.
The Prime Minister also revealed about the Yog Nidra practice, which allows the body to relax and reduce stress.
Sources said the next two weeks would be crucial, as experts hope that if all goes well with the shutdown, a rise in temperature in late April could also help combat the dreaded virus.