As the 21-day-lockdown enters its 11th day on Sunday, India will turn off its lights at 9 pm for 9 minutes and light up candles or diyas, on the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who on Friday asked the citizens of the nation to switch off lights in their houses and light candles or diyas on April 5 at 9 pm for nine minutes to dispel the darkness and gloom brought by the outbreak of the deadly novel Coronavirus.
PM Modi today once again took to Twitter to remind the nation about 9 minutes at 9 pm tonight, to switch off lights and turn on diyas, candles or mobile phone flashlights as a gesture of solidarity of the citizens towards the fight against Coronavirus.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 5, 2020
In his 11-minute video message to the people on Friday, the PM termed it as an attempt to show coronavirus, the strength of Indian unity and ‘light’.
“We must all go through this darkness together. Those who are most affected by this are the poor and marginalised. To overcome this darkness, we must all unite to spread the light. Make this darkness of Coronavirus meet the light we all spread,” the Prime Minister said as India completed the first ten days of the 21-day lockdown.
“This Sunday, 5th April we have to challenge the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to introduce it to the power of light,” PM Modi said in an address to the nation.
“We have to take the Mahasankalp (the supreme oath) by 130 crore citizens to new heights. I want your 9 minutes at 9 pm on April 5,” he added.
PM Modi had then asked Indians to switch off lights in their homes, reach out from their windows, gates or balconies and light a candle or diya for 9 minutes. Even torches and mobile phone lights would also do.
“Switch off every light in the house, reach to your main gate or balcony and light a candle, diya, torch or your mobile’s flash for 9 minutes,” the Prime Minister had said.
He, however, had stressed that no one should come out of their homes and maintain social distancing norms during the excercise, as during on March
“At no point of time in this exercise should we come out on the streets. Maintaining social distancing is the most important thing to do,” he had said.
PM Modi said as he concluded his address to the nation with a reminder, “April 5 – At 9 pm – For 9 minutes – A gesture of unity and solidarity”.
“There is no force in the world that is greater than the human spirit”, he said to lift spirit of the country facing Coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier, March 19, PM announced ‘Janta Curfew’ in the entire nation on March 22, from 7 am to 9 pm — a step to avoid public gatherings and to prevent the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus. He further suggested “On that day, at 5 pm, we will stand at our balconies, windows or doors for 5 minutes, we will show our gratitude to those maintaining essential services by ringing bells, sounding sirens and clapping.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to “light lamps to dispel the darkness of Coronavirus” has attracted criticism from the opposition, who accused him of “curating just a feel good moment” and “empty symbolism” in the time of a crisis.
This was the third time the PM has addressed the nation since the Coronavirus pandemic became a cause for serious concern in India.
In his first address on March 19, PM Modi announced ‘Janata Curfew’ in the entire nation on March 22.
Then, in his second address on March evening, the Prime Minister announced the unprecedented 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.
Amid concerns over power grid failure and voltage fluctuations following the PM Modi’s call for a 9-minute blackout on Sunday, the Government on Saturday termed the apprehensions as “misplaced”.
Some apprehensions have been expressed that a sudden drop and surge in demand for power may cause instability in grid and voltage fluctuation which may in turn harm electrical appliances.
The call immediately put the power sector managers across the country in a huddle to quickly devise a strategy to prevent the April 5 event from creating ground for a possible grid collapse and resultant blackout throughout the country.
However, the Ministry of Power has clarified that only lights in houses will be switched off during the period and that no call to switch off street lights or appliances in homes has been made.
The lights in hospitals and other essential services will remain on, the ministry added.
Local bodies have been advised to keep street lights on for public safety.
“The Indian electricity grid is robust and stable and adequate arrangements and protocols are in place to handle the variation in demand,” it said.
“The appeal of the Prime Minister is to simply switch off the lights in their homes from 9 pm to 9.09 pm on April 5. There is no call to switch off either street lights or appliances like computers, TVs, fans, refrigerators and ACs in the homes. Only lights should be switched off,” it added.
The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the country climbed to 3,374 on Sunday, while the death toll rose to 77, according to Union Health Ministry data. The number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 3,030, as many as 266 people were either cured of the disease and discharged, and one had migrated.