India’s co-ops back national plan for Covid-19 curfew

As several states and cities, including the capital Delhi, go into strict lockdown, co-ops are working on social distancing measures to protect key workers

In India, co-op leaders have backed curfew measures imposed to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prime minister Narendra Modi asked the country’s 1.3billion population India’s population to observe a “janata curfew (people’s curfew)” from 7am-9pm on Sunday to try to halt the spread of the disease. And a lockdown of large swathes of the country has been announced for next week.

Mr Modi told the public: “It’s the beginning of a long battle. People shouldn’t come out of houses in states which have announced a lockdown. In the rest of the states, if it is not very important, don’t come out of your houses.”

The co-operators of the states Uttar Pradesh and Bihar backed the curfew call, and leaders of the country’s biggest co-ops asked their members to join the effort.

Chandra Pal Singh Yadav, president of the National Co-operative Union of Inia, told Indian Cooperative website: “I not only support the PM’s call but also exhort our members to observe Janata Curfew longer than Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suggested.

“Co-operators should reduce their journeys to a bare minimum and hold no meetings till the situation returns to normal.”

Dr U S Awasthi, managing director of fertiliser co-op IFFCO, has been urging his 44,500 Twitter followers to take the virus seriously, and to maintain social distance, and to beware of fake news surrounding the disease.

R S Sodhi, managing director of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation – which runs the dairy brand Amul – urged dairy farmers to maintain social distance. He told Indian Cooperative that the country has enough food grains and milk supply to see it through the crisis.

Going forward, India is undertaking longer term measures including the suspension of its railway system, and the capital Delhi has gone into a strict lockdown, closing its borders to all but food, water and fuel supplies, public transport shut and gathering of more than four people banned.