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An Indian policeman, left and a civil defense person, second left, make people perform sit ups while holding their ear lobes, as a punishment for stepping out without a valid reason during a lockdown in Ahmedabad, India. VOA

By Anjana Pasricha

India imposed a three-week nationwide lockdown from midnight on Tuesday, banning people from leaving their homes as it scrambled to break the chain of transmission of coronavirus in the country.


Affecting 1.3 billion people, it will be world’s largest lockdown announced since the coronavirus pandemic began its march in countries across the globe.

In a televised address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told citizens that the lockdown should be viewed as a type of curfew. “The only way to save ourselves from coronavirus is if we don’t leave our homes; whatever happens, we stay at home,” he emphasized.


An Indian police, left, and a paramilitary personnel stop a vehicle during a complete lockdown amid growing concerns of coronavirus in Gauhati, India. VOA

It was his second address to the nation in a week. Pointing out that the infection spreads like wildfire, the Indian leader warned: “If we don’t handle these 21 days well, then our country, your family will go backwards by 21 years.”

Citing health experts, Modi said, “India is today at such a stage, where our actions today will determine our ability to reduce the impact of this disaster.”

India’s clampdown comes hours after neighboring Nepal began a weeklong lockdown.

The stakes in combating coronavirus are high for South Asia, home to one-quarter of the world’s population, many of them poor. A decrepit health infrastructure has made these countries nervous about how they will cope if the number of cases begins to spiral.

India’s official count of 482 cases and nine deaths is widely believed to be an underestimate due to limited testing that has been carried out. Experts are also skeptical about official claims that there is no community transmission so far and warn that cases of coronavirus have begun spilling from big cities where it came via people who had traveled overseas into small towns.


Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Train Terminus wears a deserted look amid lockdown in Mumbai, India. VOA

Nepal has only reported two cases but fears the numbers could rise because thousands of migrant workers who work in India returned home in recent days.

Ahead of India’s strict clampdown, many people were seen venturing out of their homes despite restrictions that came into effect starting Sunday in place in large parts of the country, including major cities like Mumbai and Delhi.

The country has been slowly pulling its shutters down in recent days – most big companies have told employees to work from home, large gatherings are banned, shopping malls, businesses educational institutions and tourist sites are shut and even temples have told worshippers to stay away.

The perpetually crowded rail stations and airports are already virtually empty as air and train services are suspended.

On social media, most people accepted the need for the lockdown and praised the country’s efforts to stop the infection in its tracks.

Also Read- Apple Lifts Purchase Limits on its Devices Outside China

But even as Modi emphasized the importance of social distancing to break the spread of coronavirus in the country, many pointed out that it was difficult to implement for millions of families who are often crowded into a single room in cramped urban slums.

There are also growing concerns about how tens of millions of poor people who depend on daily wages and have casual jobs will cope with the economic toll of the strict clampdown on their livelihoods. (VOA)


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IANS

The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

By Siddhi Jain

Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

four children standing on dirt during daytime 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash


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