On 5 April 2020, India switched off its lights. Prime Minister Modi had called for a symbolic stand against the virus, requesting all 1.3 billion citizens to turn off their electricity for 9 minutes, lighting candles to represent their shared spiritual fight. The move was seen as part of a national drive to push "togetherness" during the crisis, and join divided communities across ideological lines.
The pandemic has given rise to solidarity. Facing a shared enemy together, religious groups are no longer finger pointing at each other. They have a new threat to worry about, and working together is vital to overcoming it. From the top, government initiatives - such as the candlelit vigil - to bring a sense of shared purpose to its citizens, seems to be working. As Krishna Nandkeolyar writes in Gulf New,"India overwhelmingly responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call on Sunday night. Right at 9 p.m., Indians switched off its lights and lit candles or flashed mobile torches for nine minutes to express solidarity with "Corona warriors."
The vigil was more symbolic of how divided the nation is. Its fractured society, and growing tensions, have made moves such as this more urgent than ever before. Yet, such moves can only serve as a window dressing. They fail to deal with the real problem at hand, shown just last month in rising sectarian violence in India.