Bhayatanko: A Major disease post-lockdown, 2020

Bhaskar Majumder

What best, or worst, depending on the observations-experience and angle of vision, could be termed of the current Corona syndrome, in absence of any other appropriate word, is Bhayatanko. Bhayatanko is a weighted average of bhay (fear) and atanko (terror). This means a situation where innocent people feel terrorised because of fear. A component of this fear is objective – Corona-virus affected persons and deaths and a component is perceived for absence of science or scientific outlook. Let me elaborate.

One is mobile phone as a means of oral communication. Though I speak less over the child’s box, once I ring up I continue to get prolonged Advisory in different languages some of which I blissfully fail to comprehend like Kannar. The other is WhatsApp technology. Just today the 14th July, 2020 through this latest technology I came to know that the driver of an auto rickshaw on Sodepur road spit on the road while his public vehicle was on motion; on being asked not to spit, he replied, he was going to die Corona-death any time. But how could this perception lead to his right to spit on public road?   

Suspected of carrying the Covid-19 infection, a 19-year-old woman from Delhi’s Patparganj area died on June 15, 2020 after allegedly getting thrown off a bus in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura district. Her family reported that she fainted because of heat and exhaustion while travelling with her mother on a public bus from Noida to Shikohabad in Firozabad district. The driver and the conductor suspected her of being Covid-19 positive, and following an argument threw her off the bus, the family alleged.

The middle section who could afford to remain home-locked 100+days post-lockdown are engaged in forwarding all terrorizing Advisory what to do to survive while at the same time looking at Corona-crises as a prelude to Revolution. Most of the members in this section decided not to fall ill and not to make sound while sneezing or coughing even inside four walls of the room. They had the bhay (fear) that the neighbours would get to hear the sound and report to the competent authority to reveal their social awareness. So they are also in Bhayatanko.

This Bhayatanko had led to absolute silence intra-house and restricted neighbourly relations. A is suspecting B and the converse. It is like Myrdal’s theory of cumulative causation but without much base. Suspicion-led delinking gives birth to both suspicion and prolonged delinking. Not only home-locked, doors are closed sine die and windows are rarely open. I wonder how could cooking work for it generates some smoke and smell that may lead to sneezing even if once or twice. But then innocent people have learnt how not to cook items that could have led to sneezing. This means normal-natural physiology has stopped functioning. People are surviving with their Dadhichi anatomy – may be disproportionately.

This Bhayatanko also goes parallel to helplessness – nobody is allowed to roam around. The long-distance trains are mostly locked – making the driver-guard-signalman helpless. Some are drawing salary helplessly and not sure the day will come when his salary will be cut to size – rationally so for the state-sponsored reduced working days. No work-no pay.

The sweepers, regular and ad hoc, are in action, however, with mask and without mask for they need to keep the city clean as in Allahabad/Prayagraj that I have been observing. Some of them have become thinner in spite of assured food provision – Jhaaru-Dadhichi.

My corporate friend asked me to remain lip-locked – my own pair of lips, of course. How could I prove it for I am masked? Mask is also a symbol of Bhayatanko though my elder sister from Kolkata reported that the driver of the Auto Rickshaw had mask on his mouth-nose. Now mask slapped on nose means respiratory trouble – natural. Probably that was the reason he removed the mask to spit.

This Bhayatanko is also derived from police with baton. Any aberration would lead to beating by baton – police is law-locked.

The major problem with Bhayatankois everybody is desperate to survive alone on the supposition that days are numbered for anybody by Corona-probability. This has further developed self-centricism with or without forwarding Advisory. The poor in villages are busy in food economy – how could they follow Advisory that seems to me costly? I was reported that the poor in villages in Bharat lives in Green Zone – they have nothing to fear (bhay). Whether or not re-defined, bhay will not help them to survive. This is what I gathered from my recent intensive survey in two villages in the district of Allahabad/Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh.

Most of them seemed to be above bhay (fear) now for what they suffered from since being destination-locked will keep them free from fear at least for the coming days. In the villages of course there started initial suspicion and the returnee migrant workers were quarantined – mostly outside own house for the intra-house space was inadequate to allow one person occupy one room with no entry of children. The average household size was seven in each of the villages that I visited early July, 2020.

Bhayatanko is manufactured – a little fear like a little pain is enjoyable. But when it becomes atanko, it is hardly enjoyable. Some of my senior citizen friends are by any measure of elasticity angry with me reminding me how to live safe – ‘Ghare thakun, sustho thakun’ (Stay at home, live safe). I was imaging to be like Jesus to utter what they are doing – the victims of belief. Some of the state stalwarts lived comfortably at home and got Corona-connected if the media report is true and innocent people started performing Jagno for his quick recovery.

Corona Maata (Goddess) has come to be invented of late in West Bengal as may be elsewhere. Success breeds success. But I am not sure who are throwing coins and who are collecting coins for I had been informed by my priest friend in Kolkata that coins carry Corona. Insanity?

One silver lining is Bhayatanko has made meditation popular, physical exercise popular in towns. But workers in villages need to produce more food grains for physical exercise leads generally to non-satiety. This non-satiety is different from the Economist’s non-satiety. But then rural natural economy is there to feed the urban latecomers on the trajectory of VikasAtmonirbharsil Bharat and Daannirbharsil priests of urbanization.

Most important, the village innocent people are not in fear for they cannot afford to do so that is what I experienced through my village visits. The Bhayatanko thatI narrated was urban (parasite and elite).                        

Bhaskar Majumder, Professor of Economics, G. B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad - 211019

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Jul 17, 2020

Prof. Bhaskar Majumder

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