NEW DELHI: Urging Indians to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked people to observe a Janata curfew (people’s curfew) on Sunday from 7 am to 9 pm to facilitate community-based preventive measures against novel coronavirus. Taking note of the economy hit by the pandemic, Modi informed the nation that he has constituted a COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force headed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to take steps to mitigate the negative impact of the coronavirus.
In his 30-minute address to the nation, Modi recalled the blackouts, including drills in times of wars, while urging everyone to take part in the proposed curfew, which he said would be “by the people, for the people”. “On March 22, no one should come out of their homes except those engaged in essential services. People have to exercise the self restraint in the national interest to prepare for the forthcoming challenges due to the pandemic,” the PM said. He also exhorted civil organisations to prepare people for the curfew, while asking citizens to connect with 10 new persons to sensitise them about COVID-19.
The PM stressed that people shouldn’t be complacent since the pandemic struck developed nations, and some of them reported sudden spikes in cases after certain stages. Modi also appealed people to remain humane towards service providers and urged companies not to cut employees’ salaries if they don’t report for work in the coming weeks. “The global pandemic has badly affected the economy also.
Therefore, a COVID-19 Economic Task Force headed by the Finance Minister has been constituted to engage with the stakeholders to take decisions on steps to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the economy,” said Modi, noting that the outbreak has affected the middle class, low income group and the poor.
Economic task force to assess impact
■ The PM assured people that the supply of essential items, including food grains and medicines, would not be disrupted
■ In these trying times, companies should not cut salaries of staff who are unable to report for work due to the pandemic