Disease distancing, not social distancing during Covid-19

Prof. Kancha Ilaiah raises concerns about casteism and untouchability amidst social distancing measures

Social DistancingImage Courtesy:fda.gov

Ever since the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced national lock down on March 24, 2020 to fight Covid–19 and declared that “Social Distancing” is the only solution to save India from the Corona Pandemic, all Chief Ministers are also using the same coinage in  India. We must use ‘Disease Distancing’ not Social Distancing because India is a country of social Untouchability and caste distancing for millennia. If this goes in to the national psyche it will make Untouchability and casteism worst in future. India is not like Europe, America and China. This is a country of millennial practice of social distancing.  

Unfortunately  Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Janatha Party claimed biggest organised network in the world. But their cadre are not seen anywhere among the poor, semi-starving labour, beggers across the country when they themselves were ruling. Mohan Bhagwat and Amit Shah are not seen giving calls to nation how to save the poor, unemployed, beggars, nomads and semi-nomads by organizations. No Hindutva organization is seen distributing food, water to beggars, destitute and to the old poor in urban slums. This is a bad nationalism to say the least. Nationalism means saving the poor’s life and a crisis like this.

I request all organizations to not to use the phrase “Social Distancing”  but use Disease Distancing or Corona Distancing. With great struggles from the days of Savitribai Phule and her son Dr.Yashvantharao Phule who died in serving the dying poor in Poona in the Bubonic Plague of 1897, we struggled a lot to fight caste social distancing. We should strengthening it again. The poor must be saved from not only disease but also from hunger and drinking water. Let serve poorest of the poor like Karalites are doing to save the country.

* The writer is a social activist and writer. He is the former Director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad




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