Why in news?
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 19 2020 urged Indians across the country to face the coronavirus pandemic with collective determination and patience, to make sure that “humanity and India prevails” in his address to the nation over television.
- Urging Indians and residents who are stranded in different cities abroad to find alternative accommodation locally at least until the end of the month of March, the Ministry of External Affairs said Indian missions are helping them make arrangements and they must “stay put where they are”.
Details of the Prime Minister’s Address
- Mr. Modi also announced the setting up of the COVID-19 task force, under Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for measures to mitigate some of the economic hardships engendered by the pandemic.
There were nine calls to action in Prime Minister Modi’s address, some of which are:
- A self-imposed ‘janata curfew’ (people’s curfew) on March 22
- Not to resort to panic buying
- Asking senior citizens to stay indoors
- Social distancing
- Avoiding elective surgery or routine health check-ups to not over burden health services
- Asking employers to pay employees in full when they have to stay home
- To stay away from rumours.
- He also asked that on March 22, at 5 p.m., people should step out on their balconies, verandas or doorways and express by clapping or beating thalis (metal plates), their appreciation for the work of those employed in hospitals, airports, railways, police and other essential services, who he said “were our bulwark, till now against the pandemic”.
- He urged people to give up the attitude that all was well or that they would, somehow, escape the disease.
- “This pandemic will hit our middle and lower middle class and our poor economically,” he said, appealing to industrialists and employers to ensure that salaries of employees is not cut due to temporary shutting down of businesses and to take a “humane view” of things.
What the Ministry of External Affairs said?
- It is not advisable for people to move from one region to another region.
- This must be understood in the context of the gravity of the crisis.
- These restrictions are temporary, so one should not panic.
- If Indians are held up in some places, our advice would be to stay put.
- The government was requesting other countries to extend the visas for Indians who have to stay on, in the same manner that India has facilitated visa-extensions for foreign nationals in India.
- The government announced it would suspend all incoming commercial flights to India from March 22, for a week until March 29 2020.
What about Overseas Citizens of India?
- The MEA said Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) who are based in India but were abroad at the time the government revoked their visa facility, would not be allowed back at this stage.
- Ideally they must take care of themselves locally with whatever resources they have, and our missions are in the forefront to support these stranded Indian and helping them to the best of our abilities.
What about the SAARC fund?
- The government said it is working on commitments made to neighbouring SAARC nations during the video-conference initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15th March 2020.
- The [$10 million] emergency fund is already up and running.
- Requests totalling about $1 million for masks, gloves and disinfectants have already been received, of which supplies have been dispatched to Bhutan and the Maldives.
Overseas Citizenship of India
- The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) is an immigration status permitting a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in the Republic of India indefinitely.
- The OCI was introduced in response to demands for dual citizenship by the Indian diaspora, particularly in developed countries.
- It was introduced by The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005 in August 2005.
- It was launched during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention held in Hyderabad in late 2005.
- The Constitution of India prevents Indian citizens from holding dual citizenship. As such the OCI is not actual citizenship of India according to Indian law as it has many limitations such as no right to vote, no right to hold constitutional offices, and no right to buy agricultural properties.