Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 270 billion dollar package to tackle the impact of coronavirus and weeks of lockdown. India would not be controlled by the virus, he said, also announcing "lockdown 4" after May 17 in a "completely different form", with new rules.
The special economic package, equivalent to around 10 per cent of India's GDP, would be the main component of "Aatma Nirbhar Bharat" or self-reliant India, the Prime Minister said, addressing the nation for the third time since he announced a total lockdown in late March.
Details of lockdown 4 would be shared before May 18, following suggestions from states, said the PM.
"Corona will be with us for a long time but our lives cannot revolve around it. We will wear masks, we will follow doh gaj doori (six-foot distance), but we won't let it derail our targets," he stressed.
"The package will focus on land, labour, liquidity and law; it will help small businesses, labourers, farmers, the middle class and cottage industries. It will focus on the well-being of migrant workers too," said the PM.
"Day labourers, migrant workers have suffered much in this period. It is our duty now to do something for them."
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will address a series of press conferences in the coming days to give further details, he said.
The government credits its strict shutdown of almost all activity for limiting the number of virus cases and deaths. But thousands of people have been badly hit, especially the poor and migrant workers, many of whom have lost their jobs.
The coronavirus pandemic, PM Modi said, had ravaged the world and "we have never seen or heard of a crisis like this."
India, he said, must realize its potential as the lead player in the 21st century by focusing on its self-reliance.
He listed what he called five pillars for self-reliance: "Economy with potential for quantum jump, infrastructure, technology-driven system, demography and an intelligence-driven supply system where the strength of our demand and supply chain should be utilized to full capacity."
The PM had yesterday held a six-hour meeting with Chief Ministers on the road ahead after May 17, when the third phase of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown is due to end.