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The Phenomenon of Discrimination in Times of Pandemic

The Phenomenon of Discrimination in Times of Pandemic
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Muslims in India have become scapegoats for any government failure, in this case, to control the coronavirus. People have long back turned their backs to morality and universal brotherhood. People belonging to other castes, races, religions, communities are now seen as an enemy by people belonging to the majority community. Consequently, this is making the fight against the pandemic in India more complicated as a whole.

Samreen Tak

Present times are arduous not only for India but for the whole of humanity. Lives are constantly under risk due to the outbreak of this deadly novel-coronavirus, which has claimed 617K lives worldwide so far. Currently, the death toll in India has reached 28K. The outbreak has been declared an epidemic in more than dozen states and Union Territories, where provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 have been invoked and all educational institutions and many commercial establishments have been shut down. On 24 March, Prime Minister of India imposed a nationwide lockdown and to maintain social distancing in order to curb the rapid increase of Covid-19 cases.

In these trying times of pandemic, discrimination happens to be a new normal in India. Instead of strengthening the human bond, people around are busy in setting the new demarcations of discriminatory India. It seems that pandemic has become an instrument of targeting minorities in India.

Since then, there has been a sudden jump in the cases of discrimination and harassment, either in the name of racism or religion. The years 2019-20 saw a tremendous rise in cases of Muslim lynching, Dalit suicides, rape, harassment, etc. In these trying times of pandemic, discrimination happens to be a new normal in India. Instead of strengthening the human bond, people around are busy in setting the new demarcations of discriminatory India. It seems that pandemic has become an instrument of targeting minorities in India. Since last few months of public curfew, India has witnessed numerous cases of discrimination. People from the north-eastern part of India say that discrimination has increased since the spread of the virus. On 24 April, a 25 year old woman from Manipur was spat pan by 40 year-old man when she stepped out to buy groceries with her friend in the Delhi University area. The man who was riding a scooter called her ‘corona’. This incident took place in the national capital of Delhi. This is not the only incident against north-easterners; there are numerous incidents of harassment against them. A similar incident took place in Pune, where a young woman from Manipur was teased by men at a mall, who told her “Coronavirus aagya”. I have myself been witness to such type of incident; back in 2018 at Delhi International Airport, while going through security check-in, there was this young girl from the north-east, who was continuously abused by men around. Even pregnant women are not spared. Recently in Jharkhand, a pregnant woman was accused of spreading coronavirus and was reportedly made to clean up her blood by a hospital, which eventually led to the loss of her unborn child.

After India’s Health Ministry repeatedly blamed Islamic seminary Tablighi Jamaat for spreading the coronavirus, a spree of anti-Muslim attacks broke out across India. Muslims have been beaten up, nearly lynched, attacked in mosques, and branded as super spreaders and so on. New words like ‘Corona Jihad’ are being associated with the Muslim community.

Muslims of India have been the worst victims of state discrimination. After India’s Health Ministry repeatedly blamed Islamic seminary Tablighi Jamaat for spreading the coronavirus, a spree of anti-Muslim attacks broke out across India. Muslims have been beaten up, nearly lynched, attacked in mosques, and branded as super spreaders and so on. New words like ‘Corona Jihad’ are being associated with the Muslim community. Those who participated in seminary and tested positive for coronavirus later donated their plasma, which can be seen as an example of kindness and graciousness and people who fan this hatred are always at the receiving end of this gratitude. Lately, more or less it is being realized that Muslims in India have become scapegoats for any government failure, in this case to control the coronavirus. People have long back turned their backs to morality and universal brotherhood. People belonging to other castes, races, religions, communities are now seen as an enemy by people belonging to the majority population.

Consequently, this is making the fight against the pandemic in India more complicated as a whole. In all the above incidents, there has been no collective outrage on the part of the majority community and it seems they have accepted this as a norm in India. Somehow, even if there is any outrage, it is in the confinements of social media, or the outrage is selective.

Day by day, our lives as humans are deteriorating and becoming shameful, our conscience is dying, and our behavior to fellow beings is no less to inhumane. The cruelty and misery rampant in world are our own creation, we have not only destroyed our own social ecosystem but we as a civilization have terribly failed.

The world is at the lowest of lows in terms of humanity. Day by day, our lives as humans are deteriorating and becoming shameful, our conscience is dying, and our behavior to fellow beings is no less to inhumane. The cruelty and misery rampant in world are our own creation and we have not only destroyed our own social ecosystem but we as a civilization have terribly failed.
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” -Arundhati Roy

Samreen Tak is a student of sociology at Aligarh Muslim University and can be reached at samreentak11@gmail.com

Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not reflect the stand or policy of Oracle Opinions.

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