PM Narendra Modi
PM Narendra Modi
ANI Photo

New Delhi: In his much-awaited address to the nation, PM Modi has called for a "Janata curfew" on Sunday from 7 AM to 9 PM by voluntarily staying at home "to exhibit utmost restraint as a nation."

Explaining what he means by ‘Janata curfew’ -- a new addition to PM’s lexicon – Modi indicated that it was intended to demonstrate ‘our’ discipline and resolve as a nation.

He also called for expressing gratitude on Sunday at 5 pm to all those combating the coronavirus pandemic.

‘‘On Sunday, at 5 pm, we will stand in our balconies, windows or doors for 5 minutes, we will show our gratitude to those maintaining essential services by ringing bells, sounding sirens, clapping or clanging utensils," he said.

Another key announcement was that a special task force will be formed by the government to check the effects of the pandemic on the nation's economy and devise ways to bounce back. FM Nirmala Sitharaman will head the task force.

PM Modi also appealed to the business and the affluent class to keep in mind the economic interests of those working for them, if possible. However, he was silent on the fate that awaits daily wage-earners and those employed in the unorganised sector.

Apart from this, his address was sprinkled with generic advice on social distancing, needless travel, panic buying and hoarding; on another level, the speech served to sensitise the people to what the government was doing and to minimise public hysteria.

In a significant message, Modi also asserted that it was important for the SAARC member countries to work together and said the region can best respond to the coronavirus pandemic by "coming together, not growing apart".

"The pandemic has greatly impacted the economic well-being of middle, lower-middle and poor sections of society. I appeal to the business community to be sensitive to the economic interests of all those people whose services you're using," he said.

"It is possible that in the coming few days, they may not be able to report to work. I appeal that you don't cut their wages. That you decide humanely and sensitively. They also have to feed their families."

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