Indian PM stresses on Janata curfew, social distancing, and contribution of essential service staff

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed, to the people in a television address to the nation to practise social distancing and work from home, if possible, to fight the fast-spreading coronavirus that has killed four people in India.

In a 30-minute television address to the nation on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged citizens to take a pledge to keep themselves and others in the society safe. He called for a Janata curfew (self-imposed curfew) on March 22 (Sunday) from 7am to 9pm and asked everybody to take part in it.

“Please maintain a janata curfew on March 22 (Sunday) from 7am to 9pm. Let’s exercise restraint on that day and avoid going out unless it is absolutely necessary,” he said. He has  also asked elderly people, especially those above 65 years, not to go out.

The PM appealed to state governments to enforce the curfew and urged citizens to spread the message. The curfew will be a challenge and test India’s resolve, he said.

Acknowledging the contribution of health staff and other such workers, he said there are emergency workers out on the field who have high chances of getting infected but are delivering their duties. “I want that on March 22 we thank all these people. And the way this is done can unite citizens,” he said.

“At 5pm, we will stand at the door or in the balcony for five minutes to thank them…by clapping…we will encourage them,” he added.

The PM said the government has created a task force to come up with measures to mitigate the economic challenges emanating from the crisis.

He said the government is taking all steps to ensure that the people do not face any supply shock. “Please refrain from panic buying and stockpiling essentials,” he said.

India has to remain vigilant to fight the pandemic, he stressed, adding that citizens needs determination and patience to deal with the situation.

“You have never turned down my request…And because of you we are moving towards the target we have set,” he said.

“And I have a request today…I want from you your next few weeks,” he appealed to the people.

The PM highlighted that there is no vaccine to treat the Covid-19 disease and that how infections have spiralled in some countries some time after the virus first surfaced.

“Some countries have taken necessary steps and isolated people to keep them safe,” he said.

In a country like India, the problem is not an ordinary one. “It will be wrong to assume that India will not be impacted at a time when several developed countries have been impacted,” he said.

 Major highlights of the Prime Minister’s speech.

  • A Janata Curfew will be in place on Sunday 22 March from 7 am to 9 pm. All citizens, except those working in essential services are required to abide by the curfew-like restrictions.
  • . “If possible, please call at least 10 people every day and tell them about the ‘Janata Curfew’.”
  • Businesses men and citizens belonging to the higher income group should take care of the economic interests of the people from the lower strata of the society.
  • The salary of employees or house helps who are unable to discharge their duties due to the shutdown and pandemic should not be cut.
  • Express gratitude and appreciation to those ensuring uninterrupted essential services, brazing the risk of contracting the infection.
  • At 5 pm, all the citizens should stand at the door or balconies and clap, or ring bells to show appreciation for medical professionals and all those who are associated with essential services.
  • Citizens should refrain from getting panic or rushing to panic buying of essential commodities. The government will ensure regular supply of food items and essential commodities including
  • An economic task force is in place under the leadership of the Finance Minister .The special task force would take an overview of the situation and suggest the way ahead.