7 March, 2020
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered his nation’s traditional no-contact ‘Namaste’ greeting as a substitute for handshakes for everyone to adopt as the world actively seeks new ways to stem the spread of coronavirus.
The prime minister has called on India to return to its cultural roots and revive old traditions to fend off the threat of the novel coronavirus officially known as Covid-19. He also urged the world to borrow some of his nation’s useful everyday practices to reduce the risk of contracting the disease that has killed some 3,000 around the globe, mostly in China, where it originated.
Modi particularly spoke of ‘Namaste’ – India’s traditional greeting, which involves a slight bow with hands pressed together, palms touching, fingers pointed upwards and thumbs close to the chest. The gesture associated with some Indian religions is quite popular in many other Asian countries and beyond.
“If, for some reason, we have left this habit, it is the right time to adopt this habit once again, instead of going for a handshake,” Modi said, adding that the gesture has already gained some popularity throughout the world.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of those, who also encouraged his fellow countrymen to follow India’s example when it comes to greeting, in a move welcomed by the Indian embassy. Although, he actually suggested that fellow Israelis do anything to avoid shaking hands.
In India, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rapidly increased this week jumping from six to 33 as the nation braces for a larger outbreak. The Indian capital of New Delhi ordered all primary schools to close until March 31 to prevent virus transmission. The government introduced mandatory screening for all international passengers arriving to the country and suspended e-visas for travellers coming from new coronavirus hotspots – namely Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan.
The mayor of the city of Agra has called on the authorities to shut down all national monuments, including Agra’s iconic Taj Mahal.
The number of novel coronavirus infections worldwide surpassed 100,000 on Friday, while the death toll almost reached 3,500. Yet, more than half of those afflicted by the disease have already recovered.