A nearly empty street is seen in Mumbai, India on March 22.
A nearly empty street is seen in Mumbai, India on March 22. Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

Today, India is attempting the world’s biggest social-distancing exercise. But for now, it will only last for 14 hours.

Why is it happening?

It’s the latest attempt by the government to stall the rapid spread of Covid-19. It could also indicate that the government is testing the waters on whether an official curfew could actually be imposed across the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kept up a steady stream of tweets since early morning, asking citizens to stay inside. “The steps we take now will help in the times to come. Stay indoors and stay healthy,” he said.

What India is like today:

Social media has been flooded with photographs of famous locations that are usually packed with people — but today are eerily quiet.

In India, where staples like rice, flour and pulses have always been bought in bulk, the fear of a lockdown has spurred people to double their usual orders.

Local grocery shops — seen on every street — continue to operate but with fewer items on their shelves.

Modi has asked Indians to hold a salute to medical professionals, emergency health care provider and government officials on Sunday evening. Millions are expected to ring bells and clap to honor their work.

Who will be affected by the ‘public curfew’:

The people who will be most affected are those who depend on a steady daily wage to put food on the table — including people who work as rickshaw pullers or street hawkers.

This is also a problem for shoppers. In a country where tinned food is almost non-existent, every household is dependent on the local hawkers who push carts piled with vegetables each morning through the neighborhood.

What’s the bigger picture in India:

More than 320 people have contracted coronavirus in India.

In the past few weeks, India has taken unprecedented steps to shut down its borders, cancel visas and ban passengers from certain countries from entering Indian airspace. 

source: cnn.com

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