Most of us woke up on the 22nd March,2020 to the chirping of birds rather than the usual cacophony of street sounds and honking cars. This was a shared experience of so many citizens in the country that the hashtag ‘#Birds’ was trending on Twitter in India the entire day of 22nd March 2020.
These silent streets, pan India, are not an anomaly but the result of a clarion call by the Honorable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi.
The Prime Minister addressed the nation, at 8:00 p.m. (IST) on 19th March 2020, about COVID-19, the virus which has wreaked havoc across the world. He appealed to his fellow citizens to remain calm, socially distance themselves and follow all government-issued guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Among announcements detailing the government’s efforts for fighting the pandemic was a call for a self-imposed lockdown: Janta Curfew on 22nd March 2020, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The PM urged everyone to stay at home during this time unless there is an absolute necessity to go out. He also highlighted the efforts of all the workers that are involved in healthcare, police, sanitation and other essential services, acting as our first line of defense against the virus and selflessly working for the country and all its citizens with the motto of ‘SEWA PARMO DHARMA’. He suggested that all citizens should acknowledge and salute their efforts by standing in their balconies or doors of their houses and clap or ring bells for five minutes as a mark of appreciation.
Since then, the citizens extended their support for the Janta Curfew from all corners of India. From politicians, to business leaders, actors/actresses, singers and sportspersons among others have supported the curfew and have tried to do their bit in urging everyone to follow it.
The startup ecosystem has also been abuzz with the support for the movement and has been doing its bit to further the message. Ride-hailing startup, OLA operated limited cabs, only for essential travels, during Janta Curfew; Urban Company, an online at-home services startup, closed its operations for the day; and Bounceshare, a Bike rental startup did not operationalize their scooters during the curfew hours.
Some startups were also successful in engaging the public while staying indoors, one of them being the health and fitness startup, CureFit . The company canceled classes for almost all its physical fitness centers, instead, started virtual classes-Cult Live, to ensure that its users can continue their workout sessions despite the cancellation of regular classes.
Startups from across all sectors have been using their platforms to spread awareness about the movement. Food delivery startups such as Zomato, Swiggy and hospitality startup OYO endorsed the curfew and have been sending out appeals to their user base to stay safe and stay indoors. These companies have also come forward and expressed gratitude towards their partners and staff on their mobile apps. Fintech startups like Paytm and PhonePe have also expressed solidarity for the same. Along with this, media startups like LBB, Inc42, and YourStory have played a crucial role in information dissemination and have extensively covered all the necessary information required to be known to the masses.
While the entrepreneurial community and the country came together as one unit to fight the coronavirus and taking the fight against coronavirus forward, we hope that you also stayed at home, took part in appreciating our frontline workers who have stood up to the challenge and did your bit in the fight against coronavirus because together we can!