Dear Prime Minister,
I heard you and your call to light a candle and banish the darkness brought into our lives by the COVID-19 pandemic.
You love catchy acronyms so allow me to do the naamkaran of your illuminating idea for the Pradhan Mantri Corona-Virodhi Ojasvi Parikalpana, or PRAKOP, the Hindi word for ‘outbreak’.
As we gear up to implement your hypothesis, I wish to clarify a few things to ensure I don’t foul up. One can’t be too careful in these days of fake news.
You have urged that “we must all, together, challenge the darkness spread by the corona crisis, introducing it to the power of light.” Right? Tamaso ma jyotirgamaya, as that uplifting Upanishadic plea goes. And to invoke the super-resolve of Indians, you have suggested that on April 5, at 9 p.m, we should turn off all lights even as we light candles or torches or cell-phone flashlights for nine minutes. I hope your enlightenment idea has rubbed off on your officials and they remember to categorise candles as essential items for the next two days and we don’t get beaten to wax by the police when we head out to the nearby store to equip ourselves.
So, let us understand this perfectly – we must first engulf ourselves in darkness by switching off the house lights and then light a flame to challenge the resulting darkness. This is what you are saying. I applaud your modern, forward-looking sentiments for including mobile flashlights and torches too.
I hope you remembered to tell all electricity providers to switch off the streetlights too, otherwise this great effort may go to waste. Like typical killjoys they are waffling about the possibility of a power collapse caused by a sudden drop of big load due to the simultaneous switching off of all the lights on the grid.
Just a small doubt here – what are we going to do about the moon? It is in its waxing phase, and the light spread by even half a moon is incredible. To stand outside one’s balcony and see oneself, the street and the trees bathed in silvery moonlight is sheer magic. I have done that so often that I know it’s going to be a real problem to create total darkness. We have to account for the fireflies as well. They too put up quite a show in parts of India.
One more clarification – is your request addressed only to those in their houses or do you also want the police patrolling the roads to hold a candle or cell-phone flashlight? If so, then these heroic sentinels who have been toiling to beat the COVID-19 out of people will have to stop their work momentarily.
I am sure the migrant workers who were beaten (or stuffed into containers) as they desperately fled our cities will be grateful for this opportunity to join hands with those with homes and balconies for nine minutes and forge a grand collective resolve to vanquish this dark Narakasura virus.
It is your heart-to-heart video and radio talks which have inspired me to unhesitatingly place these queries before you. There is one more niggling doubt. Some days ago, our esteemed finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman ji, announced a Rs 1.70 lakh crore package, the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana, targeting 80 crore people. Only you could have had the courage to self-effacingly lend your name to an economic package which admits there are 80 crore poor Indians in a population of 130 crore.
Since many of these 80 crore poor Indians may not be getting electricity (despite your claim of 100 percent grid connectivity) and their homes must already be in darkness, my query is will they be condemned by officials and TV anchors for their failure to switch off non-existent lights in their homes before lighting a candle/diya – especially if many of them decide not to use up whatever oil or wax they possess in this manner? More importantly, will it weaken the collective effort of your initiative against the coronavirus?
Inspired by your statement that we “must continuously strive to take those of us most affected, our poor brothers and sisters, from disappointment to hope”, I have hit upon a simple solution. The desh bhakts among us 50 crore Indians who are blessed with crackling electricity in our homes must make up for the power deficit of 80 crore gareeb Indians by switching on our all our house lights. That will ensure the intensity of prakash needed for our collective super resolve to combat the daanav coronavirus.
I look forward to you clarifying all my doubts, dear Prime Minister. And, as we await your next breathtakingly bright idea, I want to put it on record that no one can hold a candle to you.