THAT no individual Indian is isolated and the whole nation stands by him even as he stays indoors during the long lock-down, is the message Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has sought to give to everybody in the country when he urged all to light a candle or a lamp or a torch-light or a cellphone light at 9 p.m. for full nine minutes on April 5 (Sunday). “Let us douse our homes darkness and light up the place with those tiny blobs of light”, he said in his short video-message to the nation on Friday morning. He suggested that the nation was travelling from darkness to light in the fight against coronavirus, and in that endeavour, all are together, united, wedded to the single cause of defeating the deadly infection.
The nation got ‘the’ message right! This may be just a symbolism, but its significance cannot be missed. Intelligent humans have always shunned darkness and have travelled to light -- Tamaso Ma Jyortigamay ...! This is what the Prime Minister -- and the Government -- has sought to tell the nation: Let us be together as we travel to light from darkness in this grim period of fight against coronavirus. Let there be no misunderstanding in anybody’s mind that he is alone and lonely. No, nobody has been left alone. All of us are together, hand in hand, lighting our own little lamps and sharing the concept of light that dispels darkness.
This was exactly the message the common people needed at this point in time when the social-distancing experience has come half-way through and the society has to travel a lot of distance to its logical end. There is no doubt that the remaining days -- with or without extension -- will pass. But when this phase of social curfew -- restricted movement -- is on, it is testing everybody’s patience, which is absolutely legitimate. For, when a traditionally free society has to live within constraints for a while, consequent adjustment does take some time, during which some individuals may feel certain sense of isolation and seclusion. It is in such a mental condition that the people look for both, solace and consolation, that the phase is going to be short-lived and that everybody is together.
The April 5 exercise of lighting lamps at 9 p.m. is a fine response to any possible sense of desolation, if at all some happen to experience it. This also represents a noble attempt of offering the nation responsible leadership in times of unprecedented crisis. This practice of returning to people with ideas and ideals -- as is being followed by the Prime Minister for the past some days -- is being appreciated all over the world. Of course, each leader does it in his own way. Yet, the communicative manner of Mr. Modi’s addresses -- live or videographed -- is unique, heart-to-heart, appealing not just to common sense but also to common goals to build a nationalistic bonding. Lighting of lamps will mean a lot of positivism in popular mind. It will mean that all the people are thinking and working together to make possible certain social spectacle the like of which the world must not have seen for ages.
There is little doubt that there will be an effective softening of sharp emotional edges that some sections of the larger Indian society may feel -- out of tiredness or political motivation. Lighting of lamps or candles or electric torches or cellphone lights will also suggest effort, however small, involving the trinity of body-mind-soul in a very Indian manner. There could be no better mark of emotional unity in a society as large as India’s. It should, thus, be the common endeavour of all to join the lamp-lighting exercise at 9 p.m. on Sunday for full nine minutes. Indirectly, the nation will celebrate sort of a Diwali when 130 crore Indians light their own lamps instead of cursing darkness.