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In his third national address during the coronavirus crisis, PM Narendra Modi requested Indians to light candles, lamps or mobile torches at 9 pm Sunday for nine minutes. This, Modi said, would be a show of solidarity in the fight against Covid-19. It is the second such exercise requested by Modi after he urged people to bang pots, pans and clap on 22 March to support frontline workers.

ThePrint asks: Modi’s 9-min candle plan Sunday: Needless spectacle or much-needed motivation for Indians?


In the psychological fight against Covid-19, lamp lighting is a gesture of solidarity

Makarand R. Paranjape
Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Study 

There were two profound philosophical presuppositions to PM Narendra Modi’s exhortation to the nation this morning. One was based on his quotation from the first sarga of the Kishkindha Kanda of the Valmiki Ramayana:

उत्साहो बलवान् आर्य नास्ति उत्साहात् परम् बलम् ।
सः उत्साहस्य हि लोकेषु न किंचित् अपि दुर्लभम् ॥४-१-१२१॥

There is no greater strength, O noble one, than enthusiasm;
For one endowed with enthusiasm, nothing in this world is difficult.

The implication of these words by Lakshmana to his despondent elder brother, Rama, is unmistakable. The fight against the coronavirus pandemic is as much psychological as medical or logistical.

If we lose our nerve as a nation, then our mental despair will also spell our corporeal downfall.

The second postulate was that “Janata Janardana,” the personification of the composite populace, is a form of the Divine.

In times of crisis, if a direct साक्षात्कार or realisation of this force of the combined will of the people is manifest, it would add greatly to the spirit and confidence of the country.

To light a lamp in the dark night of the nation’s soul as a symbolic gesture of solidarity and resolve can thus be a deeply transforming and constructive act, especially during a curfew or lockdown.

(Views are personal)


The PM of a country is not a motivational guru, he should be held accountable for his policies

Apoorvanand
Professor, Delhi University

This latest absurdity tells us that politics of images needs a continuous supply of images. But the prime minister of a country is not a motivational guru, he should be held accountable for his policies.

People across India and across communities found the government absent from the task of taking care of the vulnerable masses and rose to the occasion by organising food and other essentials for them. They didn’t need inspiration from a government that has been busy dividing people and creating insecurities. A policy decision, which created such hardships for the poor workers, must not be allowed to be shadowed by such spectacles. The Modi government must be held accountable for each death that this abrupt and unplanned lockdown has caused, for its lack of preparedness and its messy response.

The government should use every minute finding protective gear for the doctors, ensuring testing as demanded by experts, giving adequate money to out-of-work labourers instead of indulging in demagoguery.

The nation should observe silence for those who were hit by vehicles while scrambling to be with their own or those who died due to sheer exhaustion and hunger. We need to keep questioning, and not turn into docile disciples of a guru. Only questioning would earn us the dignity of a citizen and save us from all kinds of pandemics.


Candle plan will help Modi overcome damage to his image by migrant workers’ exodus. It’s a political show

Shivam Vij
Contributing editor, ThePrint

After giving India a four-hour notice for the world’s harshest lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now giving people a 72-hour notice to light lamps or flash mobile phone lights to express national solidarity at a time of crisis.

This is the second national gimmick, the first one was to bang pots and pans before the lockdown. This comes after the horrendous experience of lakhs of migrant labourers who were forced to walk back home, in the absence of food or wages in the cities.

The images of the migrant workers resulted in a PR disaster for Narendra Modi, who has been busy using coronavirus crisis for his PR — such as unnecessarily setting up a fund called PM CARES when there was already a fund for people to contribute to.

At 9pm on 5 April, when people light a lamp, Narendra Modi will be demonstrating that he’s still the popular leader people have faith and trust in. After all, they are following his commands. This will help him overcome the damage to his image caused by the migrant labour fiasco. In short, this is a political show of strength.

What it won’t do, is that it won’t tell us why the export of protective gear for doctors were allowed till as recently as 19 March, or why the government did nothing all of January and February to prepare for what was coming, by scaling up the resources for testing, isolation centres, ventilators and other medical infrastructure.


Indians are anxious, the Sunday plan will boost morale. But PM Modi’s efforts have come late

Rahul Verma
Fellow, Centre for Policy Research

This is a much-needed morale boost of not just the front-liners, health workers and police but also the rest of India. Bringing people together by generating a sense of national purpose will ease anxiety and frustration amid the unprecedented lockdown. Sometimes, spectacles serve a purpose, but spectacle without deeply thought-out content looks farcical.
PM Modi should have used this video message to appeal to citizens and volunteers to be more sympathetic to stranded migrant workers. He should have also mentioned that a lot of people forgot the whole idea of ‘social distancing’ in the last noise demonstration on 22 March and took to the streets in crowds to bang pots and pans.
More than this, I believe the PM’s efforts with regard to the management of the crisis have fallen short. His video conference with chief ministers Thursday to take stock of the COVID-19 crisis should have happened on the first day of the nationwide lockdown. There should be more engagement with the state leaders in the coming days to chart out an exit strategy. The situation is dynamic, and thus a collective leadership must be put in place to not only improvise with the national strategy to deal with this pandemic, but also a vision for post-COVID India.


Also read: Covid-19 Battle: Are Indian chief ministers measuring up or need strong central oversight?


By Pia Krishnankutty, journalist at ThePrint

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27 Comments Share Your Views

27 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with you Sunder V
    This are all negative funded media
    Which never see anything good in india

    Modi and CM of my state is doing good work to tackle this

  2. Hi All,
    I feel that the night’s action will tell that this country is with the government, but many people do not want to do this and they are against it, but I want to tell the government that tonight’s live action will be monitored through Air transports like Helicopters, etc. And see which light is not switched in Area , which need to be monitor only Major City and we will know who is deceiving this country even after staying in the country, it is very important.

    • Hi All,
      Since this COVID-19 crisis and lockdown is going to be until 14th April, Modi ji should order the clapping hands and lighting diyas on alternate days, so as to continue to show gesture of solidarity with our medical soldiers fighting for our lives.

  3. There is no mention of any logistic in the exercise to switch off lights.do you have to follow the advise without reasons.is it applicable for persons seriously bed ridden?people are already alert against the dubious epidemics.

  4. In Telangana one good act amidst all this gloom is that the poor are being given additional free rice from ration shops. But it is distressing to see the long lines, restless people including women standing in hot sun, waiting for their turn, impatient infighting, lots of police trying to keep order with harsh measures, non-functional servers at the ration shops adding to delays etc… Could this not have been avoided by a more organized distribution? For instance, unemployed youth coud be entrusted the task of distribution at the residence of the poor, using idle autos and minimal police escort. Or some such similar measure that would mitigate the miseries of long queues, provide employment (even if temporary) to unemployed youth and autowallahs and maintaining required social distancing. It’s a win-win for all. The extra cost could be a part of the social welfare measure.

  5. Till the crisis is over whole wheat brown bread
    must be baked in bakeries in a mass scale and distributed to the poor along with a mug of dal free of cost. Bread is easy and less time consuming to bake than make roti and boil rice in a mass scale.Roti and rice will also require vessels for cooking and serving.To keep the poor hunger free and healthy Bread and dal is enough for the moment.Govt. must pay the bakeries and dal cooking centres with a small margin for their profit.As far as possible
    poorest of the poor and then poor in that order
    must be fed.It is not a challenge to identify genuine poor.This action plan is for future contingencies also.

  6. The Govt.must collect statistics of formal and informal workforce.Data must be collected and updated as to what each individual is doing for a living.Hotels and eateries must be kept open for feeding the poor free of cost.Govt.must pay money to these eateries including a small margin of profit.Voluntary service by some NGOs and kind people must continue side by side though that itself is not enough.Some way has to be found out that only genuine poor people are fed free of cost.

  7. Marudhamuthu Radhakrishnan 4th April

    Let us not get diverted by this lamp issue. Why is there a deafening silence on the much needed relief package? What is the amount going to be allotted for this?

    • Worlds largest Relief Pacage + Boldest ever steps already tekan!!!
      Come out of anti india metality, co-operate with Govt. health workers and security !!!

  8. FAITH is a great healer, in times, when NOBODY KNOWS what is coming next.
    In such fearful uncertainty , when there is no answer from the MODERN WORLD, …..FAITH ACTS AS A BIG BOOSTER OF INNER STRENGTH, MENTAL STRENGTH.
    And in absence of any known solution, A BOOSTER DOSE TO OUR INNER STRENGTH ……IS THE NEED OF THE HOUR.

    writers above are harping on the plight of migrant labours…… A simple analysis…. Why this chaos happened only in KEJRIWAL’S DELHI. AND NO OTHER STATE ? Aren’t there migrant labours , in huge numbers, in other states of the country ?
    Because other chief ministers did manage this situation.
    Kejriwal, Raghav Chaddha and the team wanted such thing to happen , same as SHAHEEN BAUG.. and they succeeded in first, creating chaos of the migrant orkers , and then the MARKAZ .
    Such people with a LARGE HIDDEN AGENDA are feeders for writers like Vij, Apoorvanand et all…..same category as the LUTYENS PRESS—–

  9. I think our PM is a calculating person. He has been under flak from Hindu priests for not allowing a proper celebration of Ramanavami. He has to keep that constituency with him. PM made a statement about a staggered exit from lockdown. To me the collective action may be his idea of a staggered prayer to Ram from the nation. Would not be surprised if there is some announcement about Ayodhya.

    I am not religious, and I am not a jyotishi either. I suggest taking advantage of the lights out to take a look at the night sky. Saptarshi (the Great Bear) will be up in the north-east, its arc curving towards Swati (Arcturus) and Chitra (Spica) and then the little Hasta (Corvus). Simha (Leo) will be overhead. People in North India will be able to see the bright Shukra (Venus) setting in the west.

    • Sir, If this is a religious ritual it should be said so and a appeal made. Leave the people alone if they do not want to participate. TV channels are potraying people as anti national if they don’t support the idea. I will take this time to pray that God intervenes but it is my personal choice.

  10. So many writers, opposition politicians and professors of different ideology show only one thing. Negativity in the time of crisis. The recent one including Shashi Tharoor uttering on 9 X 9 and saying Modi has not done enough. And worst of all people like Shivam Vij only throw venom as if some king of personal vengeance against Modi. Let me bring out few points for general readers and also my fellow commenters:
    1. Modi has been continuously in meeting with CMs of all the states on conference call (of course few opposition CMs do not want to attend such calls and they only want money package from central government) to understand the situation in each state and provide all necessary directions and help as may be needed.
    2. Modi has been talking to celebrities (cinema stars, sports persons and others) to spread the message of social distancing to mass public, apart from the efforts taken by government themselves.
    3. Modi has been talking to doctors and ICMR scientists for boosting their morale, support them wherever necessary and appreciate their work in the hour of crisis. It is a selfless and thankless job for these professionals, who are also threatened by certain group of people with their uncooperative attitude.
    4. Modi has been talking to Pharma companies and medical devise companies on conference call to get all the supplies, including antibiotics and critical medical medications, kits, ventilators and beds.
    5. Modi has been talking industrialists across the country to provide funds for COVID-19 PM relief care for supporting people across.
    6. Last, but not least, Modi has been coming on media and social media to provide updates to people, talking to them through Man-ki-baat, giving morale boosting approach with simple methods like clapping, lighting and few small things, apart from requesting people to maintain social distancing and stay indoors.
    This is all apart from finance ministry package of INR 1.7 lac crores (almost equal 2G scam figure) for people across the country, most of them reaching poor through their JanDhan account directly.
    And off all, for a group of writers here, they just want to ask and say he is not doing enough.
    In a country 1.3 bn, the number of cases since the first noticed case in India from Jan 31 (more than 60 days), the positive cases notes around 2000+ with death rate less 60 people. Compare this to all those western countries with state of the hospitals, hygiene systems, best of research facilities, think-tank and what not. Every country is bleeding and no one is clear what strategy to be adopted. Except few small countries, which has a population of less than one city like Chennai or Bengaluru, were only ones where the Corona growth curve flattened.

    Yaar, please bring some positivity. It helps everyone. Come out of your cocoon mindset and learn to appreciate. Other wise no one will trust media anymore.

    • Sir, you have analysed the whole issue honestly. Modi jee has done a lot and he will do more in times to come. In this hour of crisis we should rise above petty politics. It is because of Modi jee that people are motivated to make sizable contributions in PM’S Relief Fund. Under his leadership we will overcome this crisis

    • I agree with you Sunder V
      This are all negative funded media
      Which never see anything good in india

      Modi and CM of my state is doing good work to tackle this

  11. The PM should be one who can motivate the people and give them direction in a difficult time. Someone who can lead the country and inspire. Modi is doing the right thing. Some people would disagree because right in their hearts they know the people of India would respond in a big way to the call of the PM. Opposition parties are jealous of the popularity of the PM.

  12. Mr. Apoorvanand, Mr. Shivam Vij and up some extent Mr Rahul Verma talked sense. Of this material world, hardships of real people, probable solutions …. but, as expected like Modi Mr Paranjape gone back to Purana, symbols, images…Kishkindha kand, Ramayana, Ram, Lakshman Sita, Karma, Moksha, Maya, Jagat Miththya. साक्षात्कार …top of this he sensed philosophical lining in Modi’s appeal. Where are we heading towards ?
    As Mr Apoorvanand rightly said, Modi is not a motivational Guru, he is accountable to his policies and decisions. If he can talk all the people , why cant he connect directly himself to migrant workers ? people who are in a most vulnerable positions, ?listen to their plight, give them confidence ? Instead he is busy in playing with the people’s mind and his follower’s are engaging in proving him right and of course in Muslim bashing on media and social media . Very dangerous road ahead…

  13. Our senior maid lives in a reconstructed building in Colaba which has a hundred small flats, each home to an extended family. Told her, Lalita, if all of you hold a candle and observe social distance, the queue would stretch a mile, all the way up to the Gateway of India.

  14. Everyday hearing new drama from Mode. Every one is troubled in Mode government. Four more years we have to tolerate him. That’s what happen if small person holding big post with big responsibilities. Economy is down , stock market is crashing everyday. Our financial system is crashing. Our business and employment is on collision course. Problem is he and our FM has no idea what 5 he economy is. We are destined to suffer and we are suffering in his regime.

  15. We light diyas for Diwali, there have been instances of people holding candle light vigils, for example after the Nirbhaya tragedy in Delhi, which were deeply moving. However, bringing the nation to a standstill for ten minutes is another matter. Switch off all lights, come to the balconies with a source of illumination. Although not during working hours and in any case amidst a stay at home lockdown, still a huge stilling of human endeavour and enterprise. 2. This deadly virus is not a creature from Indian mythology. It will be overcome by science, not prayers, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed out. The war will be won by doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, other people at the front line. Many of them are without protective gear, beginning to test positive. Medical facilities need to be rapidly scaled up, equipment procured, to deal with a growing number of cases. 3. I think it would be so much better to hold a day of national thanksgiving and celebration after we have incinerated the last mutant piece of this satan bug.

    • Sir, So dissapointed that you only find some holes everywhere. How a national thanksgiving would help in the end, when whole world is bleeding to understand where the end will be. Don’t you ever think positive of what has been done so far, than just give comment for everything with more of English. How candles would have helped Nirbhaya when she was struggling for life in Singapore hospital? At that time it was fine, right?

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