Ever since the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced a national lockdown 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 into the national psyche it will make Untouchability and casteism worst in the future. India is not like Europe, America, and China. This is a country of the millennial practice of social distancing.
Unfortunately, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Janatha Party claimed biggest organized network in the world. But their cadre are not seen anywhere among the poor, semi-starving labor, beggers across the country when they themselves were ruling. Mohan Bhagwat and Amit Shah are not seen giving calls to the nation on 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 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 be strengthening it again. The poor must be saved from not only disease but also from hunger and drinking water. Let serve the poorest of the poor like Keralites are doing to save the country.
(*Prof. Kancha Ilaiah is a noted social scientist and political thinker)