Our economy is being ruined between inefficient government and sluggish opposition, if the situation does not improve then we will become the new ‘Untouchables.’
Untouchability has been a stigma for our country for centuries. Ambedkar, who fought for his whole life, claimed that there is enough evidence to suggest that it has been going on since 400 BC and it has always been the way of Indians to live.
This is the reason why devout Hindus on one hand and committed inclusionist Gandhi, on the other hand, believed that it is good for us to end this deadly practice. And Nehru, who relied on social justice, had said that India will never reach its true height until we end the caste system and ensure equality for all Indians.
This is the motive that our constitution made untouchability illicit and considered it a punishable offence.
But is it over? No.
Untouchability is deeply ingrained in our thinking and is seen openly. Its ugliness has recently increased, which has been promoted by some political parties, who want to keep it alive to achieve ruthless majoritarianism.
Now only the lower castes, Dalits, are not suffering. In some parts of India, indigent people belonging to a particular community have become new untouchables. So in some parts, some tribes are the new untouchables, who have been left marginalized by governments to grab their land, forest and mineral wealth.
And now, after this pandemic in the country, we see a new class of untouchables is emerging. These are sick, migrant labourers, unemployed and extremely impoverished people. Their connection with the cities is broken and their villages do not want to take them back because they are unemployed and miserable and additionally there is a risk of health issues.
Today the suffering/affected people are being boycotted openly. Their wives and children are not allowed to be home quarantined as per the regulations. People are getting them out of the village, throwing them along with their family members from trains, refusing to burn in the crematorium when one dies. Dead bodies are being collected in hospital corridors. Nobody wants to accept them, not even own family. The corpses are placed next to the patients being treated. It is like a return to the fierce plague.
But, today who is the frustrated-indigent?
No, not the farmers who commit suicide every year due to poverty. Now, these dispirited poor are those who were working in our factories, offices and our homes till back in the days. It also includes small traders, food carts, autorickshaw drivers, small restaurant workers, multiplexes and security guards standing outside malls.
Viruses and lockdowns left them unemployed, homeless and nearly devastated. And now about 14 crores middle-class families have also been associated with them. According to research, their savings will end by the end of July. That is, they will be poverty-stricken.
A recent survey shows that 84 per cent of the households have suffered severe loss of income after lockdown. They are living on their savings right now. By the end of this month, with the increase in rains, many middle-class families will fall into the category of destitute.
They will also be unable to spend on treatment or meet basic family needs. They will have to leave the rented house, sell their goods and borrow money at such a rate, which will become impossible for them to repay later. They are also worried pensioners who relied on interest from the bank, as banks have reduced interest rates.
Those who counted on their children working abroad are also trapped because their children have lost their jobs or lost wages. Meanwhile, the prices of petrol and diesel are continuously increasing, while the prices should have been reduced based on the global trend. This is going to make everything expensive.
Overall, the pace of the wave is not stopping and more and more people will continue to drown. The government is refusing to provide cash in their hands, as some other countries are doing. These are the new untouchables. Nobody has time for these and the government has the least interest in their future or prospect. Instead, govt is making hefty policies of millions for billions, which will never reach out to these people.
An economy that was ready for a better future, is being wrecked.