One minute read. Written By Tara Subramaniam – a grade 9 student.
On March 22, 2020 India’s 1.3 billion people observed a voluntary curfew by staying at home after the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for social distancing to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus that has claimed thousands of lives across the world. Currently, there is no cure for the disease.
On 19th March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed the nation on the outbreak of this deadly virus. The disease caused by this virus is called Covid-19 and it has rapidly spread around the world. The World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak of the virus as a pandemic.
In the course of his speech, Modi emphasised the importance of social distancing and washing of hands. He urged all citizens of the country to stay at home and step out only when urgent and avoid contact with others. Modi said that awareness about the virus was important and people should take precautions. He asked everyone to refrain from spreading false rumors and creating unnecessary panic. The PM asked citizens to give their workers paid leave so that they could stay safe without losing their income.
Modi encouraged everyone to voluntarily stay at home from 7 am to 9 pm on Sunday, 22nd March, calling the initiative Janta Curfew. He declared that this “will be a symbol of our effort, of our self-restraint, and our resolve to fulfill our duty in service of the nation.” The Prime Minister also said that a task force will be constituted under the finance minister to ensure all steps are taken to reduce economic difficulties faced by the people. Furthermore, he asked all Indians to honour the doctors, healthcare professionals and others at the forefront of the fight against virus by clapping, striking thalis and ringing bells from their balconies or outside their doors.
Janta curfew, observed on 22nd March, turned out to be successful as hardly a soul stepped out all day. With the exception of those who provide essential services, movement within and between cities, towns and villages was restricted. The social distancing maintained by people was remarkable. At 5:00 pm, lakhs of people stood on their balconies and outside their doors to applaud the medical staff for their selfless work they have been doing. Though in several places across the country, the clapping event seemed to have backfired as people gathered in public spaces such as parks and streets. In Lucknow and Kanpur, both in Uttar Pradesh, there were reports that some people fired guns in the air in an act of celebration.
As the Janta curfew drew to a close, 82 districts in the country were put under lock down in that evening. This meant that everyone had to work from their homes and not step out unless absolutely necessary. The railway board decided to suspend passenger train services until 31st March. Metros and inter-state bus services were stopped in various states by their governments to prevent people from travelling. Also on 23rd March, domestic flights were also suspended. The Indian government had already suspended international flights to the country earlier. With all of these initiatives, India is hoping to contain the transmission of the deadly virus.