As India entered Day 5 of lockdown this Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation with his monthly "Mann Ki Baat" radio program amid a growing threat from the coronavirus pandemic. With the number of positive cases nearing a thousand, the PM once again urged Indians to practice social distancing and make up for it by reducing emotional distancing.
Much of the latest episode of Mann Ki Baat dealt with addressing the contributions of healthcare workers across the country as well as speaking to recovered patients of coronavirus. Nevertheless, one of the highlights of the episode, at least for netizens, came when the PM apologized for implementing a total lockdown on air.
“I apologise for taking harsh steps over COVID-19 that caused inconvenience to common man,” the PM said, addressing the massive turmoil that millions of migrant workers and other marginalised sections of the country found themselves in since the lockdown.
"I seek forgiveness... I am sure you will forgive me that you had to undergo so much trouble. Some people will say what kind of prime minister is this but these are special circumstances. You had to undergo problems I understand but there is no other way out to fight the coronavirus," he said. "But this is a battle for life and death."
Since the lockdown on the midnight of March 24, millions of migrant and daily wage workers from across big cities have been walking long and arduous journeys back to their villages. With no employment or aid, many have ended up on the road without food or transport.
The PM's apology naturally spawned various reactions on social media. On one hand, supporters praised the apology, claiming it took great humility for a leader to accept problems and yet stand strong in the face of diversity.
PM Modi: "I ask for your forgiveness for all the inconveniences caused by the lockdown!" Here is a leader seeking apology for saving ordinary Indians' lives and averting the fate of the financial capital of the US!https://t.co/bVpnAGN6LG — Dr Praveen Patil (@5Forty3) March 29, 2020
No need to apologize do it like a boss. — Aakash Kumar (@aakash4345) March 29, 2020
He has empathy so he apologises for difficulties caused by his lockdown decision which was correct.U on other hand knowing that u r wrong instead of apology start attacking like mad dog. Show humility as shown by PM,not ur 🖕 at every positive thing b'coz it is done by Modi. — Stay Safe Stay Positive - A Very Positive Indian (@drakhilesh1234) March 29, 2020
In crisis times, you need leader who has compassion, communication and confidence to win. We are fortunate to have PM Modi in these tough times, a PM who communicates frequently with all and does not feel small in seeking apology from all #PMModi