UNTOUCHABILITY AND CORONA
By Bhavika Advani
Untouchability is a concept made by the people for the people in which upper caste people discriminate the lower caste. According to this concept higher caste, people keep distance from lower caste people to maintain purity, usually lower caste are denied of social equality and considered as a pollutant that contaminated the higher caste people either by touching or using their property(well, utensils etc). this concept is evolved from the varna system( classification of people by their work) which gradually becomes the jati system(work are decided according to jati ) and still we have the system of caste in society. “Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches,” as the saying goes, and the same is true for upper caste people. They have no idea of the magnitude of atrocities committed by them against lower castes, and they have no empathy for their plight.
History of Untouchability
Untouchability is not a new concept. With the Aryan invasion around 1500 BC, this concept arrived in India. The indigenous peoples of India were regarded as culturally and racially inferior by the Aryans. As a result, the people of India began to migrate to the jungle, and they came to be known as chandalas. Untouchability was prevalent on a large scale between 600 BC and 200 AD. People are classified into four varnas in society based on their occupation or work: Brahmin, Kshatriya Vaishya, and Shudra. People who do not belong to any of these varnas are considered the fifth caste and are known as untouchables, they are treated horribly by the upper castes.
Atrocities by upper caste people on lower caste
Since the concept of different caste came into our society the people of the upper caste consider themselves superior and gradually they start suppressing the person below their level of work. They start making rules and regulations which are made to oppressed the lower caste people. Prohibition of eating with people of higher castes, Separate cups are provided in village tea stalls. In restaurants, there are separate seating arrangements and utensils. At village functions and festivals, there is segregation in seating and food arrangements. Entry into places of public worship is prohibited. Wearing sandals or holding umbrellas in front of higher caste members is forbidden. Entry into the homes of other castes is forbidden. The use of common village paths is prohibited. Burial and cremation grounds are separate. Access to common/public properties and resources is prohibited (wells, ponds, temples, etc.), Segregation of children in schools (separate seating area), and social boycotts by other castes for refusing to perform their “duties.” If they used anything related to the upper caste by accident, they will face the consequences, and those things will not be used by them again.
India’s Untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in their place. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighborhood is a life-threatening offense.
Lessons from corona which upper caste people should learn
Corona teaches the upper castes a lesson: what you did to the untouchables is now happening to you. People in your family and society are afraid of you. The one who is corona positive or has any symptoms of corona must face the same treatment as upper caste people do with lower caste people, such as having to live alone in a separate room, different treatment by your own dear ones, and your plates and glasses are not used by anyone. You get the food in the same way you gave it to the untouchable from afar.
Your neighbors’ behavior shifts dramatically. Those neighbors who were your friends and with whom you spent a lot of free time chit-chatting and doing other things do not even inquire about your health and family situation. They even advise people not to go in front of your house. All vegetable vendors and milkmen, drivers, and passers-by are advised not to go in front of our house, not to touch anything near our house, and to keep a safe distance from our house. Although these all are the precautions which one should take in covid times at that point, the appropriate sense of untouchability can be felt. This is the pain that can easily be compared to the people of the lower caste who have been subjected to this behavior since 600 BC. They have been subjected to atrocities for a long time, and now is the time to put an end to it. They should be treated equally to everyone else.
In India, more than 160 million people are classified as “Untouchables,” or people born into a caste system that considers them impure and less than human. According to figures presented at the International Dalit Conference held in Vancouver, Canada from May 16 to 18, nearly 90% of all poor Indians and 95% of all illiterate Indians are Dalits. Despite the fact that untouchability was abolished when India’s constitution was adopted in 1950, discrimination against Dalits remained so widespread till now.
“We call ourselves; the 21st centurions,
Civilized and many more…
In reality, our thoughts
Still stuck to the uncivilized era.
The so-called civilians,
Carrying the ideas of untouchability;
Are the pillars of society?
Pathetic! That would be the scenario.
After two decades of education,
Fails to eradicate the thoughts of untouchability…
What would come; in the rescue of cleansing the minds of real untouchables,
Will ever social justice be possible?”
By Queeny Gona
We will never be able to break through the barrier of untouchability and form new relationships if our identity becomes confined to caste. If you happen to be born into an upper caste, you will never be able to empathize with the Dalits, the backward, or participate in their fight for equality.” Now we all have to pledge to remove this trauma from society and treat everyone equally.
Jai Hind Jai Bharat.