BY NEHA HEGDE
Quarantine has been difficult for everybody around the world, yet all of us have been trying to make our lives better in our own ways. Even though some of us have everything which is essential to us, still we feel it is a plight. Well, this plight of ours might be someone’s happy place. Someone, who is not as privileged as we are. There is a huge disparity among people even with or without this pandemic. This situation came up and made the fettle of few people worse than it was.
In any kind of epidemic, the poor are the major prey. The people whom we refer to as “essential workers” are the ones who suffer. The delivery boys, housemaids, sweepers, sanitation staff, rag, and waste pickers, cleaners, etc. are marked as ‘essential service providers’, and these classes do not have the privilege to ‘work-from-home’. Therefore, ‘work-from-home’ is not a mere act of social distancing to avoid the disease, but it is also a powerful middle-class privilege. It is the middle-class luxury that comes along with paid holidays and job security.
Cleanliness is always related to our salary. Even though cleanliness is a basic part of every creature, the whole aspect of hygiene is somehow only the part of people with money. Poor is defined to be unhygienic in India. There should be something like “Right for Hygiene” where each and every person is capable to disinfect their living place. Nobody of us has seen a poor using a sanitizer. More than 90% of this world’s inventions are just meant for a person who owns money. There is no dignity nor humane treatment for those without money. Why should always a bungalow be clean and why not a poor’s shanty?
This is how information was collated in India’s last national demographic survey coordinated by the International Institute for Population Sciences in 2015-16, from where the data for this study was drawn. It found that 39.8% of households had no soap or no water, a situation often explained by the absence of soap during the survey. 80% of the poorest households have no sanitizing facilities. The worst levels of hand hygiene were observed in houses with an absence of toilet facilities (64%) or in illiterate families (68%). The implications of these inequalities may be considered for the transmission of the disease within the country and the impact on vulnerable groups.
This lockdown restricts us from going out, people belonging to the elite class live in such a space where they don’t mind locking themselves up for a year. The unfair point is that the poor have no space like us, they are deprived of convenience. We have balconies; verandas to chill for a while, apartments might have parks, pool, gym, etc. This problem of space is worse for the urban poor who live in a slum and the whole city is under the red-zone due to the virus. With or without lockdown, India has a side where 6 members live in a space of 10 square feet house. Space and privacy are again owned by people with money.
Such a situation is a nightmare and none of us were ready for this. Thinking about the upcoming days is scary, sitting at home all the time is not a good thing, but we have worse problems around us. The class discrimination and the poor state of this society to vanish. There is so much going on that we are unable to digest things; uneasiness has become everybody’s routine these days. It’s important for us to help each other and be there for the vulnerable. In a world of the rat race for self, all that we need is humane nature.