Coronavirus update: PM Modi’s call for switching off lights for 9 minutes at 9pm today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged all countrymen to switch off their lights for 9 minutes at 9pm on Sunday and asked them to light diyas, candles or use the flashlight of their mobile phones as a sign of solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister made the appeal in a video address—his third in two weeks.

Before that, Modi had called for resolve and restraint to fight coronavirus disease on March 19 and also announced a Janta Curfew on March 22, a Sunday. On March 24, he had announced the 21-day nationwide lockdown to check the spread of the deadly virus.

What PM Modi said about 9 minutes at 9pm

“On April 5, on Sunday, I want 9 minutes from all you, at 9pm. Listen carefully, on April 5, at 9pm, turn off all the lights in your homes, stand at your doors or in your balconies, and light candles or diyas, torches or mobile flashlights for 9 minutes. I repeat, light candles or diyas, torches or mobile flashlights, for 9 minutes at 9pm on the April 5,” Modi had said on April 3.

“At that time, if you have turned off all the lights of your homes, and each one of us in all directions has lit a diya; we will experience the superpower of light, clearly illuminating the common purpose we are all fighting for. In that light, in that lustre, in that radiance, let us resolve in our minds that we are not alone, that no one is alone! 130 crore Indians are committed, through a common resolve!” he said.

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“Friends, I have one more prayer in this regard, that no one must assemble or gather anywhere while participating in this program. Please do not go out on to the roads, lanes or your localities, do it at the doorstep or balconies of your own homes. One must never cross the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ of social distancing. Social distancing should not be breached under any circumstances. This is the only panacea to break the chain of coronavirus,” he said.

“So, on April 5 at 9pm, sit in solitude for some time and reminisce about Ma Bharati, picture the faces of 130 crore Indians. Experience the collective resolve, the collective superpower of 130 crore Indians. This will give us the strength to fight, as well as the confidence to win, in this hour of crisis,” he said.

Busting myths

After Prime Minister appealed for a show of solidarity in the country’s collective fight against the coronavirus pandemic, social media was full of videos and posts about its ‘scientific benefits’.

This led the government to dismiss these as ‘rumours and unscientific’ through the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

“Don’t fall for the rumours/unscientific reasoning on the appeal for lightning Diya/candles/flash/torch on 5th April at 9pm. This initiative is to show solidarity and confidence in our collective fight against #Covid19,” PIB tweeted

“Please maintain #SocialDistancing to keep #Covid19 at bay,” it said.

Power grids

Modi’s appeal to citizens to switch off lights across India on Sunday to mark the coronavirus fight also raised concerns that a surge in voltage due to a steep dip in power demand could harm the grid and cause widespread outages.

The power grid has seen a 30% drop in demand due to the absence of commercial activity amid the 21-day nationwide lockdown. There were fears that the Prime Minister’s call could encourage people to switch off everything, reducing demand even more.

The Union ministry of power then clarified that Modi’s call would not cause instability to the power grid amid concerns over a possible grid-collapse.

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“Some apprehensions have been expressed that this may cause instability in the grid and fluctuation in voltage which may harm electrical appliances. These apprehensions are misplaced. The Indian electricity grid is robust and stable and adequate arrangements and protocols are in place to handle the variation in demand,” the power ministry said in a statement.

“The appeal of the Hon Prime Minister is to simply switch off the lights in their homes from 9 pm to 9.09 pm on the 5th of April. There is no call to switch off either streetlights or appliances like Computers, TVs, Fans, Refrigerators and ACs in the homes. Only lights should be switched off,” it added.

PM Modi’s earlier appeal

Modi had called on people to go on a self-imposed Janta Curfew and stay inside their homes and avoid going outside between 7am to 9pm on March 22. He also asked people to come to their doorways, balconies and windows to clap or ring bells at 5pm to thank those working toward essential services.

Hundreds of thousands across the country had responded to the Prime Minister’s appeal to cheer doctors, nurses, police officials and others who are working to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

India has seen a rise in the cases of Covid-19 since then and 3072 people, including 212 recoveries and 75 deaths, have contracted the coronavirus disease till Sunday morning.

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