Both Logic & Coronavirus Died a Painful Death on Janta Curfew Day
In case you missed out on the spectacle that took place at 5 pm on 22 March - aka the Janta curfew, as christened by PM Narendra Modi - let me begin by describing what I personally experienced from my balcony.
At 4:50 pm, I heard a faint clapping. Within five minutes, the clapping had been taken over by more aggressive sounds as people stepped out into their balconies and began banging utensils. Quite alright. Absolutely nothing I was not expecting.
However, by 5:05, the community experience had escalated to a whole new level as I could hear someone blowing a conch shell, singing the Gayatri mantra, bursting crackers, playing the drums...
You best believe I was annoyed but even more so, I was confused.
Here’s me trying to make sense of the situation.
Later, when I took to social media, I was surprised to know that I wasn’t alone in my confusion. What Modi had thought of as a potential community experience to build morale and encourage people to stay indoors had turned into a full-fledged celebration for absolutely no reason.
For example, take this video of people gathering on the streets of Jaipur for the 5-minute celebration which, I am guessing from the strength of the crowd, probably lasted longer.
What’s worrisome is that people seem to have forgotten Modi’s speech entirely.
In his address to the nation on 19 March, Modi clearly said that the elderly, or citizens above the age of 60, are encouraged to stay indoors as much as possible.
But did that happen? Nope, nope, nope.
Here’s another video of a public gathering in Mysore.
For some reason (which is not clear to me), hordes of people across India assumed that the day-long Janta curfew marked some kind of a victory over the novel coronavirus. When, in all honesty, the battle has barely begun for us Indians.
And of course, the iconic chant “Go Corona Go” that has now turned into an unironic mantra in this long fight against coronavirus.
If the Prime Minister of the country getting up on national television and explaining the meaning of social distancing can’t get us to stay indoors, then I really don’t know what can.
If like me, you also spent your time both laughing and raging at such videos on social media, I feel you. I really, really do. But remember, the long-term cost of this ignorance could be a heavy one.