PM’s message evokes mixed response from netizens, memes galore

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message on Friday urging people to switch off lights at their homes and light lamps, candles or turn on mobile phone torches for nine minutes on April 5 evoked a mixed response from netizens with many hailing it, some criticising it, and others having a light-hearted take on it.
Soon after the prime minister’s message was broadcast asking people to participate in the exercise on Sunday 9 PM, people began to express their views on it and tweets with the “9 baje 9 minute” hashtag began trending.
In a video message of over 11 minutes, Modi also asked people to maintain the “lakshman rekha” of social distancing by staying indoors and not getting together in groups during the exercise.
Several among the Twitterati lauded the initiative with a Twitter user saying, “On 5th April at 9pm for 9min, Switch off the light of your home, and light a candle, diya or flashlight…Let’s spread the light of unity.” Actor Anupam Kher said this was a symbolic gesture that could have several meanings such as bringing people together or thanking those working to provide essential services to people in these times of crisis.
In a video posted on Twitter, he also slammed those criticising the prime minister’s initiative.
Former Miss World Manushi Chillar hailed the prime minister’s initiative, saying it was time to be united again.
Indian cricketing star Harbhajan Singh also lauded the prime minister for the appeal, tweeting, “We are proud of our Team Leader @narendramodi Let’s all continue to Stay home & be Safe. 5th April at 9pm for 9 mins all lights off. Candles, Diya,torch, mobile flash to use but only from home.” Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri also backed the initiative and urged people to build up a new energy to fight this COVID-19 crisis.
However, not all were impressed as several people criticised the call as symbolism and “event management” “Event Management 9.0. A great thinker once said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. In 21st century India, we have farce at the time of tragedy,” historian Ram Chandra Guha tweeted.
“The Constitution lists as a citizen’s fundamental duties ‘to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform’. An Amendment is in order; to ask us all to promote astrology and voodoo and blind faith instead,” Guha said.
“Thalis and torchlights. Welcome to the #Modi Sound & Light Show,” said another Twitter user.
Another netizen said he wishes ‘9baje9minute’ sheds light on the problems daily wage workers are facing, how the safety of doctors and medical practitioners are being taken care of and what the government is doing about it.
Memes flooded Twitter over the prime minister’s call with several people taking light-hearted dig at the initiative.
A Twitter user posted a scene from the movie ‘Phir Hera Pheri’ with the caption ‘paisa hi paisa hoga’ and said, that would be the state of “mombatti and diya sellers” on April 5.
Another user posted a picture from the 1976 movie ‘Naagin’ in which the male actors are holding torches, with the message “me and my friends in balcony” on April 5.
One user posted a picture of India’s map lit up, saying, “NASA has already released an image of India from 5th April night 9pm”.
The prime minister told the nation that many people must have felt alone being at home during the ongoing lockdown but they must realise that the collective strength of 130 crore Indians is with each one of them.
Once people everywhere light up lamps or display flashlights of their mobile phones at their doorsteps or balconies after turning off the lights at home, it will emerge in this “superpower” of brightness that “we are all fighting with a collective resolve”, he said.