As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s addressed the nation on Thursday about the coronavirus pandemic, he warned citizens against complacency and said it was important for every Indian to stay alert and vigilant during this global crisis.
He also asked Indians to observe a “janata curfew”, or a self-imposed curfew, on Sunday, staying indoors from 7 am to 9 pm. Eight hours into the exercise, at 5 pm, Modi suggested that Indians should assemble at their windows or on their balconies and clap their hands, ring bells or beat on vessels to send a clamorous message of appreciation towards all the professionals – nurses, doctors, cleaners, transport workers, police personnel and others – who have been helping battle the contagion as it spread across the country.
The idea of community clapping (while practising social distancing) appears to have been inspired by similar expressions in Spain and Italy, where people cooped up in their homes came out into their balconies in a coordinated effort to show their gratitude.
As was to be expected, Modi’s admirers lauded the speech.
But there was disappointment from those who had hoped for speech that addressed concerns about the lack of testing of potentially infected people and the severe economic impact of self-isolation, quarantine, and the closure of shops and establishments.
Some people noted that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had done more than just attempt to lift spirits.
The coordinated clapping might produce a social media-friendly moment or two – or it could just be a hollow gesture that ignores the seriousness of the problem, some Twitter users suggested.
Will this be Modi’s Ramdas Athawale moment?
What is a crisis without a Game of Thrones reference?
Of course, the liberals have it all wrong.