Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

PM Modi’s ‘9 Baje 9 Minute’ Appeal – An act of Psychological Ingenuity

After nine days of nationwide lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, once again addressed the nation on Friday. After Corona outbreak, it was for the third time that PM accosted the nation. Earlier this month PM Modi had asked for 14 hours nationwide curfew when it was necessary for a leader to prepare the nation against the global pandemic. In addition to that PM also asked the countrymen to show gestures of appreciation for all those who have had been relentlessly working to keep us safe from the pandemic. It’s an undeniable fact that both these calls were successful, the countrymen followed the request of the Prime Minister. However, the hour of tough examination was ahead. After 2 days of Janta Curfew, the Prime Minister, after consulting the state governments, declared a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days. Several things have changed after this announcement. The expected growth rate in COVID 19 cases had been stagnant for a few days. However, soon after that, another crisis arose in Delhi due to Tablighi Jamat, which has not only increased the number of infected people, but has also poured a lot of apprehensions in the minds of masses. During times like this, it was evident that the PM would have come with something innovative that would help the countrymen not fall into the trap of fear and gloom.

On Friday when the Prime Minister released his video, he wasn’t up with any policy announcement but a national appeal. There were two profound philosophical presuppositions to PM Narendra Modi’s exhortation to the nation on Friday morning. One was based on his quotation from the first sarga of the Kishkindha Kanda of the Valmiki Ramayana which translates in english as- “There is no greater strength, O noble one, than enthusiasm; For one endowed with enthusiasm, nothing in this world is difficult.

The implication of these words by Lakshmana to his despondent elder brother, Rama, is unmistakable. The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is as much psychological as medical or logistical. If we lose our nerve as a nation, then our mental despair will also spell our corporeal downfall.

The second postulate was that “Janata Janardana”, the personification of the composite populace, is a form of the Divine. In times of crisis, if a realisation of this force of the combined will of the people is manifest, it would add greatly to the spirit and confidence of the country. To light a lamp in the dark night as a symbolic gesture of solidarity and resolve can thus be a deeply transforming and constructive act, especially during a curfew or lockdown.

The PM during times of distress and inactivity like this, has asked the country to build a national consensus, a sort of mass level engagement by doing an activity that aims to virtually bring the entire population of the country together. It will, unmistakably, have a deep psychological impact in the psyche of a population that is under lockdown to fight a pandemic.

(Vishal Kumar is a Political Science graduate and a final year Law student at the University of Delhi)