Millions of Indian families heeded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to turn off electric lights and use candles, lamps, and flashlights for nine minutes at 9pm on Sunday to commemorate the country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic which has so far claimed 83 lives and infected more than 3,500 people.
As the clock struck 9pm, lights went out in most houses and people gathered in balconies, flashing mobile lights while a few of them lit candles and lamps. Firecrackers could also be heard.
In a video message broadcast last week, Modi said such a gesture will dispel the darkness created by the coronavirus and show that people are together in their fight against the epidemic.
“You may be alone at home but 130 crore people are with you,” he had said while making the appeal to fuse a sense of unity and purpose among people during the ongoing lockdown.
Modi’s ‘9pm, 9 minutes’ appeal was the second such gesture during the India-wide lockdown imposed to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus. He earlier asked them to clap or beat utensils on March 22 for five minutes at 5pm while observing ‘janta curfew’ from 7am to 9pm to thank those working in essentials services.
On March 24, Modi announced a 21-day lockdown across the country from March 25 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, asserting that social distancing was the only way to deal with the deadly virus.
After the announcement made by the Prime Minister the electricity grid, power companies and authorities were asked to put in place elaborate plans to deal with the sudden drop and then a quick spurt in demand.
There were apprehensions about adverse affect on the electricity grid due to the blackout among the people which were dispelled by the Ministry of Power on Saturday saying these are misplaced.
The government on Saturday sought to assuage fears of electricity grid instability due to simultaneous switching on and off of most lights in the country, saying adequate protocols are in place to handle the variation in demand without causing any damage to appliances.