New Delhi: Sunday was all about deserted streets and the eerie quiet that engulfed the country following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement urging people to observe a ‘janata curfew’ from 7 am to 9 pm to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
News channels featured visuals of empty roads and public places all day, going from city to city to highlight the success of the curfew.
And then at 5 pm exactly, the quiet was broken. There was a rousing round of applause and ‘thaali bajana’ (banging plates) across the country after PM Modi designated five minutes to thank all the essential service workers, such as medical professionals, working tirelessly against the deadly virus. Many news studios saw reporters, anchors and guests (Zee News and DD News) join in with a round of applause. “Look at these visuals…India is coming together to defeat the virus,” declared Arnab Goswami on Republic TV.
Aaj Tak’s anchor Chitra Tripathi informed viewers that over 15 districts in Uttar Pradesh and 7 in New Delhi were under lockdown. Later, Tripathi was overwhelmed by a video of PM Modi’s mother banging her thaali (plate) with a spoon, “This video of Prime Minister Modi’s mother banging her thaali with a spoon has given people hope.”
“She is saluting the warriors fighting the coronavirus,” she added.
Rajat Sharma on India TV said, “I understand that everyone has one question playing on their minds. In order to stop the coronavirus, why is a curfew necessary?”
He, then, announced, “If you get the answers to these questions, then you yourself won’t be stepping out of the house.”
Sharma then warned, “There is no medicine or vaccination which has been invented to battle coronavirus.”
“We can only break the chain of this virus by observing self-quarantine,” he said.
News18 India anchor Prashant Churhe claimed he had big news. Churhe said, “We have received news that in light of the outbreak, the Centre is contemplating whether to open the Parliament or not.”
“Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, NCP have said they will not be sending their MPs due to the outbreak,” he informed.
Anchor Sarah Jacob was in conversation with Dr V.K. Paul, member of health in NITI Aayog on NDTV 24×7. Jacob didn’t mince her words, “What is the government doing? We can’t go into battle with perfunctory clapping of hands, we need more than that.”
Dr Paul dodged the question to the best of his abilities, “The kind of war we have undertaken will ultimately be won by people and by the nation as a whole. Today, we must mark a day when total solidarity has been expressed to face this humongous once in a century challenge.”
Why did actor Anupam Kher have a stake in a conversation on thaali bajana? India Today anchor Rahul Kanwal reminded everyone that “on the streets of NYC (New York City), Kher is known as Dr Vijay Kapoor from the NBC drama called ‘New Amsterdam’. So, I am really wondering what you make of this thaali bajao campaign?”
Kher, who doesn’t miss a chance to impart some gyaan, said, “I think there are certain things in life which are symbolic. What happened at 5 o’clock is never heard of… it is a symbolic gesture of India coming together and sending vibrations worldwide.”
CNBC TV18 anchor Megha Vishwanath reported, “Corporate meetings have gone remote and video conferencing services have seen a spike due to coronavirus.”
Vishwanath also presented a startling statistic, “Webex by Cisco has seen users spend 5.5 billion minutes in virtual meetings in March so far.”
International news channels were also occupied by the coronavirus outbreak as the death toll in the US hit 300. Fox News anchor Jon Scott was concerned about the food and takeout/delivery systems in the US.
Scott informed, “Takeout and delivery is not an option for many restaurants as coronavirus has hit the food industry hard. It has put millions of service sector jobs in jeopardy. Only 7 states are allowing customers to dine from inside in restaurants.”
Meanwhile, on CNN, anchor Jake Tapper was emotional and attempted to reassure the audience that everything was going to be fine.
Tapper wasn’t feeling very positive himself, though.“It has been a difficult week. There is little indication that these coming days are going to be anything but worse.”
“With all this grim news, it is worth reminding you that we are going to get through this.”