Indians gathered en masse in their balconies and not just lit candles but also exploded firecrackers at 9 pm on Sunday for more than the requested nine minutes, in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s April 3 speech that lamps be displayed to signal unity in fight against the novel coronavirus that has brought the world to its knees.
The exercise took place amidst fears that the fluctuation in power demand at 9.09 pm could lead to a power grid failure. However, the Ministry of Power had put these concerns to rest. “Indian electricity grid is robust, stable and adequate arrangements and protocols are in place to handle the variation in demand,” it said. To ensure that the power did not crash, electricity board staff were on standby across the country.
Like the reaction to the mass clapping and clanging of pots and pans that Modi has urged during the “janata curfew” or people’s curfew on March 22, Sunday’s spectacle attracted snide comments, bewilderment and anger.
Here are some reactions on social media to the #9PM9Minutes mega-event.
Some social media users highlighted the cruelty of Indians celebrating premature Diwali while migrant labourers and daily wage workers had had to travel hundreds of kilometres of distances to reach home after Modi announced the 21-day lockdown on March 24.
Several Twitter users noted that people were burning firecrackers, going beyond Modi’s memo. Several also reported conch shells being blown in their neighbourhoods.
Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma had some wise words to share.
This cartoon by Satish Acharya was a pointed observation about the shortage of Personal Protection Equipment needed by medical personnel.
The enthusiasm of some TV channels did not go unnoticed.
Was the exercise a success?