Prime Minister Modi has declared the coronavirus outbreak, which has already claimed over 200 lives and has spread its deadly tentacles across the country, a ‘national emergency’.
It is indeed that, and arguably poses the single biggest threat that this country has ever faced.
In the wake of national calamities like floods or earthquakes, the Army is often called in to help civic authorities in relief and rehabilitation work. In the potential havoc that it could wreak unless the most stringent measures are adopted to combat it, the coronavirus poses a challenge of far greater magnitude than a flood or an earthquake, and needs to be fought with all the country’s resources, of money as well as manpower. Which is why we urgently need to call upon the Army to battle this invisible and implacable foe.
Our million-plus Army is without question the largest and most disciplined skilled workforce in the country. With its help we could get moving the 3.5 lakh trucks carrying goods worth 35 thousand crores, which are stranded across the country, having been abandoned by their drivers.
Army personnel could help to protect healthcare workers who have come under violent attacks by ill-informed and anti-social locals in several places. Army doctors could assist in the all-important task of testing and collecting samples of those suspected of carrying the infection, and Army hospitals could be turned into coronavirus treatment centres.
Armoured in PPE, our soldiers would not face any greater risk than doctors and other medical workers are already facing and whose task of defending the country against disease is no less crucial than that of the Army in safeguarding us from external threat.
If we are to win the war against coronavirus, we have to enlist the Army. And we have to do it now. Tomorrow might be too late.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.