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29 March, 2020 12:43:05 PM
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Indian lockdown and PM Modi

Studies have confirmed that any lockdown targets a reduction in the basic reproduction rate of an infection
KUMKUM CHADHA
Indian lockdown and PM Modi

Midnight is ominous in India’s scheme of things. Financial terror had struck at midnight in 2016 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced scrapping a segment of Indian currency notes under the draconian demonetisation: To quote him:
“….To break the grip of corruption and black money, we have decided that the five hundred rupee and thousand rupee currency notes presently in use will no longer be legal tender from midnight tonight, that is 8th November 2016….”.
At the stroke of twelve, life as they say, came crashing down.
Therefore, some three years on following the initial announcement that Modi will address the nation there was panic on what he would say. That passed with a Janata curfew or one day curfew announcement.
The second time when he spoke, it was kind of a midnight knock: a total lockdown throughout the country for 21 days: the first of its kind in History: “From 12 midnight, the whole country will come under complete lockdown." Modi said in his speech on March 24,2020: kicking off the lockdown at the stroke of midnight.
Following the coronavirus outbreak, Modi spoke to the nation twice in five days: the first time with a soft blow and the second time hitting hard. The first speech was preparatory and the second, the real thing, as they say.
Those who were nervous the first time appeared visibly relaxed because they knew that he would continue on the corona-virus theme. The nuance would be different but the theme a constant. They were wrong.
The Prime Minister spoke and inflicted the 21-day lockdown blow.
Like he had during the demonetization announcement, he gave less than four hours for the clampdown.
There was a distinct difference between the tone and tenor of Modi’s first speech and his second on the coronavirus. The first time he spoke as an understanding parent would to explain to his child the concept and its dangers. But within five days, Modi assumed a strict, no nonsense tone chiding an errant child.

 That we as citizens have been irresponsible is a given. Instead of partnering with the government we have created roadblocks: undoing almost every measure that the government has tried to take.

 When the Prime Minister told the people to observe the one-day curfew the first time around and salute the medical warriors in the forefront by clapping from their homes or balconies, the people did both: except they went overboard.

 Instead of clapping from the vicinity of their homes or coming out on their respective balconies, many    took to the streets with conch shells and beating thalis and drums: a celebration kind of scene breaking the perquisite of social distancing and rubbing shoulders and being in close proximity of each other.  

Consequently, in a single stroke, they undid whatever little was achieved throughout the day by staying indoors. Spilling on the streets was defeating the whole purpose of the entire exercise.  But that was only one part of a short story.  

The second was the larger story and that of a 21- day lockdown throughout the country announced by Modi. This was both a need and a challenge.   The logic of a lockdown is to break the infection change by social distancing and staying at home.

 Through this mechanism it is hoped that a reduction in the rate of infection would be achieved.

 Studies have confirmed that any lockdown targets a reduction in the basic reproduction rate of an infection or helps reduce the number of people each confirmed case infects.

 If people cooperate then India could well save itself from being inflicted with what could be a health disaster which, given its numbers, is waiting to explode.

 And if habits do not change then explode it will. And then there we will have no one but ourselves to blame.

 Interestingly Prime Minister Modi’s lock down dates coincide with astrological predictions too. If the Government is fire-fighting with the epidemic, astrologers are working overtime to study the planetary positions and assess whether the worst is beginning to take shape or is it really over.  

There are several predictions: some which have put the coronavirus end-date, at least India, to be between September and November this year.  

Another assessment is that the ill-effects will start receding from end of March after a major planetary movement on March 28, 2020. The curve will then  begin to flatten by April 13 according to the astrologers. As of now, India’s lock down, is slated to end on April 14.

Reiterating the idea that the virus cannot survive hot weather, it is expected to fade away as summer peaks. Planetary position, too, becomes positive from May onwards with an important planetary conjunction beginning from the afternoon of March 28. The state of panic in citizens will recede and things will normalize

To quote an astrologer: “The sun enters Aries around 14th April, the tension will cease to exist soon enough. The immunity of people will start to improvise. Also, overall health will get better from this day onwards” adding that Sun is the main force of mankind that gives life to earth. Astrologers have also predicted that medically a new invention in the medical sector will come about to combat the virus.

There is however another view: after the 30th of March 2020, the people are expected to get some relief from the virus. However, according to the situation in India’s horoscope, some planetary movements between June 30 to September 19  throw up the possibility of another virus outbreak but after that success in the fight against such outbreaks of diseases is reflected in the charts.

 Astrology apart, religion also has its part to play in India. The first day of the lockdown coincided with the Chaitra Navratri’ which is considered an auspicious period. During this, the nine forms of goddess Durga are worshipped.

 This year, however, because of coronavirus and the restrictions imposed, Navratri will be observed rather silently from March 25-April 2: “The Gods are angry and hence shut their doors to devotees” is the common refrain to underline the wrath of the Gods. Prime Minister Modi, himself a devotee, tweeted that he would pray for those in the forefront of the corona war.

Navratri is believed to be victory of good over evil forces and this time around the people are praying for safety and protection from this deadly virus hoping against hope that the Goddess will smile from the heavens and rid the country of this impending sense of doom.

 Irrespective there seems unanimity, at least among major sections, about one thing: that the Government has tackled the situation very well and is ahead of others.

 In this context, Modi’s   leadership, his capacity to lead from the front, his ability to take tough decisions and do what it takes irrespective of politics and criticism are talking points.

 The Government’s pro-active response to every problem including rolling out a package for the poor, financial relief and the Central Banks doling out cash are steps that even Modi baiters cannot find fault with.

Far from “sleeping at the wheel” as Congress’ Rahul Gandhi had earlier said about Modi, Prime Minister seems to be the driving force, doing what it takes to fight the virus and keep it under check if possible.

 In the present crisis, people are witnessing a government which works led by Modi who has put human lives above economic growth. India has moved with the speed even while other countries are getting their act together. The Government, country, its people and every citizen stands together with determination and resilience in a we shall overcome mode and mood. Modi’s broadcasts have had a balming effect resulting in many saying: “Thank God for Modi”.

The writer is a senior Indian journalist, political

commentator and columnist of The Independent.

She can be reached at: (kumkum91@gmail.com)

JG

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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