The head of the country’s government urged residents on Sunday not to leave their homes from 7 am to 9 pm
Silence reigned in India as hundreds of millions of people responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to stay at home for 14 hours. The call comes amid a surge in coronavirus that has heightened concerns about a pandemic in the world’s second most populous country..
Authorities also shut down one of the world’s busiest rail networks and most public transport, including metro and commuter trains, which many residents of cities like Mumbai rely on..
During the day, the usually noisy and busy streets of India were quiet. Street vendors, who usually stand on the side of the road, did not set up their stalls and carts on the day of the “people’s curfew,” as it was called. There was no direct ban from the authorities, but the action became a symbolic manifestation of national resolve.
The unusual lull was interrupted only once, at five o’clock in the evening, when millions of residents looked out of windows and doors or stepped onto balconies and began clapping, ringing bells, singing and playing on seashells in gratitude to people such as doctors and sanitary workers. The main stars of Bollywood joined the action.
“Today’s success may bode well for greater recognition in the coming days,” said Professor Shrinath Reddy, President of the India Public Health Foundation. “The purpose of this action was to strengthen the solidarity of society and public opinion in favor of discipline and sacrifice, and not dictatorship descended from above”.
“The measures we are taking now will help in the future,” Modi tweeted, urging people to comply with the “curfew.”.
The restriction on leaving the house from 7 am to 9 pm is seen as an attempt to prepare residents for what India may face in the coming days and weeks. As of Sunday, 341 infected people were registered in the country, 6 people died. But after a sharp increase in the incidence in the last two days, some experts started talking about the fact that after Europe, India may become the next hotbed of the epidemic..
Many believe that the figures given do not reflect the real situation with the spread of infection due to limited testing.
Several states, including Rajasthan in the north and four cities in Gujarat in the west, have announced a near complete shutdown of companies..
The country’s rail network has been shut down amid fears that trains could carry the coronavirus to rural areas as millions of migrant workers begin to leave cities, losing their livelihoods as businesses scale down and shopping malls, restaurants and educational institutions closed. Indian trains carry 23 million passengers a day.
Even the suburban train network in Mumbai closed to ordinary passengers until Wednesday – only people providing vital services will be able to use the trains. In fact, we are talking about the closure of trade in a large part of the city..
India has faced numerous challenges in trying to contain the pandemic: huge populations, overcrowded cities, overcrowded slums, huge numbers of migrants and inadequate medical infrastructure. As summer approaches, the advice to wash your hands often may not be helpful in a situation where large numbers of people face chronic water shortages..
From clapping to beating thalis, people respond to PM Modi’s call on ‘Janata curfew’
India made early attempts to isolate itself from the virus. Authorities have imposed travel restrictions from the worst-affected countries, began screening travelers from overseas for symptoms of illness, and recently banned all international flights..
“We have entered uncharted territory and are currently in the [incidence] rising phase,” says Reddy..
At the same time, pointing to restrictions such as the closure of railways, he notes: “It is hoped that we will not see the pace of recovery that other [countries] have experienced, and perhaps we will reach the plateau earlier.”.