When Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked people to light a lamp or candle at 9 PM on April 5th, he also underlined its significance. The objective was to express solidarity in the fight against COVID-19, and he especially said that it gives a light of hope for the poor sections of the society who are most vulnerable and have suffered the most due to this lockdown. A handful of naysayers had spread the negativity in this instance, also arguing that such exercises are futile.
Nevertheless, this massive exercise has proved that people offered total support to this exercise of solidarity in times of an unprecedented crisis. Every section of society took part in lighting Diyas and switching off bulbs for 9 minutes.
This tweet from the Minister of Power speaks about the extent of support PM Modi’s call got during the occasion.
Demand in the grid came down by 32000 MW within a few minutes but the frequency and voltage was mantained within the normal range. The drop in national demand by 32000 megawatts shows a huge response of the nation to the call of the Prime Minister. (2/2)@narendramodi@PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/yuxkdPXYBK
— R. K. Singh (@RajKSinghIndia) April 5, 2020
Many social media posts have shown how the exercise of lighting a lamp indeed filled hope into the lives of the poor sections of society as PM Modi had all along intended to.
— Kanchan Gupta (@KanchanGupta) April 5, 2020
For all those wondering if the exercise helped to build medical capacity, they should understand that India is doing an exercise of solidarity and gratitude, and it is not an alternative to medical preparedness to COVID-19.
Just to state one fact, less than 20 COVID-19 patients are on ventilator support at this moment. As against this, over 14,000 ventilators have been identified in various hospitals across the country for treatment of COVID-19 patients. An order of 10,000 ventilators has been placed with Agva Healthcare in Noida, and will be obtained bys the 2nd week of April. You may read the details of preparedness in other aspects at length in our article #IndiaFightsCorona – Ramping Up of Indigenous Medical Infrastructure.
Addressing Mental Issue
Be it clapping for the frontline fighters during Janata Curfew or lightning lamps expressing solidarity in the fight against COVID-19, Prime Minister Modi is doing a great service by working to address the mental health aspects of citizens during lockdown.
Besides preparing the nation with physical health infrastructure in the fight against the virus, it is also important to give hope and help people to keep the spirit high. Both national and international publications have published a number of articles expressing concerns over the impact of mental health during the corona lockdown period. Here you may count some such headlines.
We can go on quoting many more headlines here. But the gist of the argument that these articles are making is essentially the same. Humans are social animals and it is emotionally draining for them to spend days in isolation.
So, what is the Modi government doing?
By asking people to clap in unison for the frontline fighters of the disease, or simultaneously lighting the lamp in a specific time, everybody is feeling that they are not alone in this fight even though socially everyone remains restricted.
Broadcasting the iconic series of Ramayana and Mahabharata through public broadcaster, whose channels reach the nook and corners of the country, also helps to sustain a large population’s need for emotional fulfilment.
When people come across news and visuals of Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding discussions through video conferencing with their favorite actors, sportspersons, religious heads, it helps to generate optimism, generating positive motivational factor among them.
As this report in The Economics Times notes, the government has already launched a toll-free helpline number – 08046110007 — for people who may face any mental health issue due to the ongoing countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The set of people who call themselves ‘liberals’ may not understand the impact of these measures, or they may choose to overlook them. But the government is leaving no stone unturned to secure both the physical and mental wellness of its citizens during this difficult time.
The one lamp you lit, the torch you waved might have counselled a gullible soul living anxiously in the house near you!