PM Modi’s fervent appeal for a Janta Curfew seems to have received a huge reception from the entire country today, even as streets and marketplaces across some of the most crowded zones across the country wear a deserted look today. Even the National Capital woke up to deserted roads today even as the people of Delhi honoured PM Modi’s call for a self-imposed curfew. Imagine the city which had not gone into hibernation even after the deadly riots in some parts of the city last month has now gone into complete shutdown as it heeded to the Prime Minister’s appeal for social distancing and defeating the Coronavirus outbreak.
Not just Delhi, even the state of Uttar Pradesh has enthusiastically enforced the self-imposed Janta Curfew that reaffirms PM Modi’s popularity and charisma. The State has mostly shutdown falling in line with PM Modi’s appeal. The entire state wears a deserted look today- parks that usually bustle with activity were found empty as morning walkers decided to stay in their homes, busy roads were largely vacant except occasional cyclists and police vans. Public transport too stayed off the roads and the busy bus stands and railway stations of the most populated state of India wore a deserted look. One cannot remember when Uttar Pradesh closed down like this in order to avoid a public health emergency.
Other parts of the country including Karnataka have obliged PM Modi by observing his call for the Janta Curfew, as the state has shut down completely. Madhya Pradesh too is observing the Sunday shut down in accordance with PM Modi’s address a few days ago. But even in non-BJP ruled states like Maharashtra and Kerala, the shutdown has been honoured effectively and enthusiastically. PM Modi has a mass appeal which is helping India enforce social distancing and ward off the Pandemic in an unprecedented and unparalleled manner. This is a massive and heartening show of Prime Minister Modi’s mass appeal and statesmanship that even a Communist-ruled state like Kerala has imposed the Janta Curfew upon itself. Even in Maharashtra, major cities like Pune, Nagpur and Mumbai have shutdown. No one can remember when it was for the last time that Mumbai wore such a deserted look and it had not shut down like this maybe even after Balasaheb Thackery’s demise.
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Northeast India has also shut down completely, and even PM Modi’s opponents do not seem to have played spoilsport, except of course, Mamata Banerjee, who wanted all teachers in schools during the Janta Curfew. The larger picture, however, remains that the object of the Janta Curfew was to test the waters as far as stepping up measures to plug the spread of the Wuhan virus is concerned. This is like the Fundamental Duty to “defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so.” With this the discipline of Indian citizens and their capability to co-operate with the authorities was going to be tested. And in this sense, Prime Minister Modi’s outreach initiative and fervent appeal has turned out to be a phenomenal success.
This is why Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also hinted at more Janta Curfews in the future and has alerted the citizens to remain prepared for more such Janta Curfews in the near future. This makes that much more sense given that such self-imposed shutdowns will go a long way in breaking the chain of the spread of the virus. “Even a single day of universal social distancing will be a blow to the transmission chain of the virus,” said NITI Aayog member V K Paul, in an interview with Times of India. Keep in mind that as the citizens enforce the shutdown upon themselves, the authorities will disinfect and sanitise public places nipping the Wuhan virus in its bud.
With this, PM Modi seems to have managed what can be described as the largest democratic shutdown exercise in the world- one which doesn’t have to be enforced by police and other such agencies, given that both his followers and detractors both came out hailing the wonderful initiative. No other leader across the world commands this kind of respect and following in his country that the entire 133-billion strong nation of comes to a halt in order to battle and defeat an epidemic.
In the United States, the Blue states (those governed by Democrats) would have defied any such Curfew appeal and in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s appeal not to venture out of homes was defied by Sydneysiders who drove to the Bondi Beach despite Morrison’s appeal.
It was only in the case of a mass leader like India that an appeal to impose a Curfew upon themselves was enthusiastically heeded to by the citizens, who have made the shutdown a virtual Jan Aandolan to defeat the virus. This also reinforces the need of popular and strong leadership. Imagine having a Prime Minister like Dr. Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi at this stage- while the former wouldn’t have spoken about the outbreak, who would have listened to the latter? PM Modi’s popularity and mass appeal has thus put India on the right track to defeat the Coronavirus outbreak.