9PM blackout, people light candles of hope As the clock struck 9 pm, lights went out in most houses and people gathered in balconies, lighting candles and diyas. Responding to the call of PM Narendra Modi during his Friday morning video address to the nation, people across India on Sunday lighted candles and diyas and switched off the lights for nine minutes at 9 pm to show their unity in the fight against COVID-19.
The initiative is being held at a time when the nation is under 21-day lockdown to combat the infectious disease.
Coronavirus graph of India rose steeply on Sunday as 505 fresh cases and 11 more deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, taking the total cases to 3,577, while casualties reached 83. Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry Lav Agarwal, in his daily press briefing, predicted that had the Tablighi Jamaat congregation not happened, the number of COVID-19 cases would have doubled in India in 7.4 days, not 4.1.
As the battle against the spread of COVID-19 continued with lockdowns and curfews, people of the nation geared up to light a candle or lamp or beam a mobile or torch light at 2100 hrs of Sunday, as mark of collective will.
Modi maintained that nobody was alone in this time of crisis and his government was taking everyone along.
As the world is fighting COVID-19 pandemic, the initiatives taken by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to keep the country from slipping into despondency are being praised by western experts.
Comparing the situation with other countries experts said the leadership of most nations is running out of ideas on how to keep hope alive as nations like the U.S. sink deeper into trouble.
While lighting a candle will not deal with the COVID-19 challenge, it will keep India focused on the initiatives being undertaken by its leadership, say experts.
Claudia Wadlich Heidelberg, a German expert on South Asian affairs told ANI, "It is an effective measure to reach out to all people in the vast sub-continent, to strengthen their sense of responsibility and sense of community and to honour those who work tirelessly against the virus".
She added, "In our comparatively small countries in Europe, we encourage each other. In Italy, people stand on their balconies at a certain time and applaud the doctors and nurses. Such campaigns were also sporadic in Germany. And the church bells ring here at 7 pm. Surprisingly, all Germans are united in the hope that they will soon be able to overcome the virus".
Citing Singapore's decision to lockdown for one month, South-Asia experts said: "clearly the World is following India's path and this decision by Singapore is proof of that.""The video statement in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called upon Indian citizens to light a candle at 9 pm for 9 minutes on Sunday will be a great sign of national unity that will cultivate a deep-rooted sense of security among a shaken populace", said Dr Amjad Ayub, a journalist based in Glasgow.
He added: "It will bring all faiths and ethnic groups together in their fight against the menace caused by Corona pandemic".
Earlier, praising India, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday said that country's USD 22.6 billion economic stimulus plan will benefit millions of poor who have been affected by 21-day countrywide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.And that's the kind of support, we say, should be given," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed.
Globally, more than 67,260 people have died, about 12,37,420 have been diagnosed with the virus , according to
data collected by Johns Hopkins University.