Dehumanize corona, Corrode dehumanization

Abhishek Kabra

Dehumanization is the process of treating humans in an inhuman manner. The spraying of pesticides over migrant workers was symbolic representation of the inequality in the nation where the fault of the passport holders to a large extent is being compensated by the sufferings of the ration card holders or people bereft of even those. Arresting CAA protestor and a peasant leader Akhil Gogoi without a warrant is also dehumanization. At the time of a national crisis, the influencers need to be utilised and not arrested. However, religion was enough to hide it.

Up to the time I am writing this, global death has topped 50,000 and the country has crossed over 4000 patients suffering of COVID-19. So, with positive becoming the new negative and the vice versa, we need to understand that we can still tackle Covid-19 and know our respective responsibilities and roles that varies from staying in the home and taking ample care to that of becoming an arm-chair philosopher , who rather than playing blame games can also promote ways to eradicate the same , or the shopkeepers at ration shops and pharmacies who can impart sensitization to the public at large . An excellent example of such sensitivity can be seen in the streets of Mizoram where social distancing is being scientifically maintained by voluntary efforts of the natives.

 I am neither a  preacher nor an opposer of any religious activity done under the premises of the state within its rule book but in spite of the orders by Delhi Government, the organization of Tablighi Jamaat in Nijamuddin shows a collaborative failure of not merely the organizers but the administration whose Police Force was ardently active during the times of Anti CAA movement but could not dare to either talk or disturb a congregation of over twenty hundred people throughout the world, an assemblage which is even banned across different parts of the Globe. Whatever the case may be, we are now in a situation where the people need to understand that distancing is what, which is going to make them forever close to their loved ones.

We have seen videos of Indore where Doctors were being chased by larger group of people. And when we go into deeper analysis, there are two different reasons to the same. Firstly, the fear of being taken away was higher than the awareness level, everyone expected them to have. But secondly, when we see that what was being taught at the Jamaat in Nijamuddin, it was quoted that ‘Allah has created it to punish the humanity which has departed from the righteous path and the believers thus, will be protected.’  The Head of the Jamaat has been reportedly taped asking people to embrace death rather than shunning their beliefs. Scores of videos have surfaced on the internet where the speakers have been asking people not to abide by any of the safety measures. Belief cannot triumph reason and religion must give way to science and whenever religion takes over science, humanity takes a turn in its grave. And that has happened to a large extent.

The works of Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala or Dr. Himanta Biswa Sharma in Assam, in spite of any political ideologies people are allured at, were actually better than many other states. Khusboo Damani, a law student from Hyderabad said – ‘I returned home on 18th March. By then Assam had zero cases of Covid-19 and Andhra Pradesh had more than ten cases. But even then, there was no preliminary screening in Hyderabad airport in regard to this and in Assam, at least they checked my body temperature’. So, the people who have the ability to communicate to the masses or the circle officers and other administrators thereon should also communicate these attendees , the need of coming out from their homes and have themselves tested, in a manner that they voluntarily come out and that can be done if talks are made with the leaders of the religious institutions who have a greater influence on those people.

The media in this regard has a very crucial role to play. We are all aware of propaganda (both positive and negative) that media can spread. And this is the time to have a positive propaganda by not making it an Islamophobic term just for the sake of certain television rating points and convey it in large, to the people, in convincing attitude, to just go and have themselves tested. However, it was very disheartening to experience how the virus has changed its identity from a racist virus to a communal one, as the title saw changes from that of a Chinese Virus to a Muslim-Covid 19. 

India has combatted the entire small pox epidemics in late 20th century. And the role of public distribution system was very important in that regard. Similarly, India has also used creative means of reducing HIV AIDS that in the first decade of the century, when it was rising at a very higher level. The sex workers played a very important role by explaining the usage of condoms. Thus, the agents in combatting COVID-19, as we know that the only way we can combat it in entirety by not letting it happen to us at all, are the Asha workers, the  media, the leaders of religious intuitions, the opinion leaders of tea garden areas, the MLAs , the MPs and so on.

The time is very sensitive and the issue has become more sensational by addition of religious colours in it. But times immemorial, religion in India has been used to hide the failures of state when it comes to problems like Unemployment, Poor education or extremely negligible percentage of GDP’s contribution to healthcare. India lost more children in Uttar Pradesh in a month when the hospital pipes ran out of oxygen. India has lost more children in Bihar dying of encephalitis last year than that of COVID-19. But that did not bother the nation as the nation had religion as an opium to its people. And even during the Covid-19 lockdown, religion card is hiding the plights of migrant workers, the labourers of informal economy who are the employees of none, the failures of a proper channel of healthcare facilities and so on. Because, what we need to understand is the universality of suffering. The most unique feature of Covid-19 is that it does not discriminate. If it can affect Boris Johnson and Prince Charles, it can affect everyone.

Lastly. Covid-19 is not a communal rugby.  I convey my thanks to all the healthcare professionals, the doctors, the final year students of MBBS in different Medical colleges of the state, the different research fellows and scientists throughout the institutions of the country busy in preparing vaccines or other important medical kits, the police officers, the paramilitary forces and to great importance, the ASHA workers, working relentlessly, no matter, if they are Hindus or  Muslims or believers or not. We need to dehumanise Coronavirus but let not the humanity be corroded at any cost.

Abhishek Kabra, Department Of Mass Communication And Journalism, Tezpur University, Assam

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Apr 7, 2020

Abhishek Kabra

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