Corona Virus, Science and Buddha


Harishchandra Sukhdeve

harishchandra sukhdeveThe world is at a standstill for almost more than three months now. And, nobody knows when the wheels of the economy will start turning again. Unprecedented. It had never happened before: all continents being shut down for human movement. Human beings are in self imposed cages to save themselves from the tiny invisible Corona Virus. Or rather from the newer version of Corona Virus, hence called Novel Corona Virus, the COVID-19.

This Novel Corona Virus has infected human beings for the first time in December 2019, in the crowded industrial city of Wuhan in China. It quickly spread among a large population killing many people. The infection was swift and widespread leaving no clue about how to respond, much less how to cure people. By the time authorities in China could figure out how to respond, Corona had already travelled to many countries in Europe and America. While China was reeling under its devastating spread and deaths with no medicine in sight to cure people, other countries were quite normal till the dawn of the new year. Corona is pretty stealthy. It doesn’t make its presence felt for two to three weeks. In cascading devastating events that followed after December 2019 in China, Italy overtook it in deaths by February, 2020, when America’s President Trump was still in an ambivalent mood, enjoying the hospitality of Modi in India. Come March and even before it was over, America overtook both China and Italy in terms of affected people, and by mid-April it was topping the list for deaths by Corona.

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COVID-19, Safety and Security of Sanitation Workers

 

Ajit Kumar Lenka

ajit kumar lenkaCurrently, millions of people are affected by Covid-19 (coronavirus disease). The number of infected cases and deaths due to Covid-19 is increasing rapidly. As per the WHO data, more than two million people are affected and thousands of people have died from the coronavirus Covid-19 across the globe. In the case of India, as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), thousands of people are infected from Covid-19, and hundreds of deaths are reported. As per the WHO guidelines, everyone should follow basic hygienic such as regular washing of hands with soap and water, wearing mask and maintaining social distancing of at least 1.8 meters from others. One needs to avoid unnecessary, unprotected contact with animals and be sure to wash hands properly.

In India, the majority of sanitation workers directly involved in cleaning work are working without protective gear. More than 1.2 million workers are engaged in cleaning work under the supervision of municipalities across the country. In the battle against Covid-19, sanitation workers are playing a major role in cleaning and maintaining hygiene. These workers are more vulnerable than the other workers because they are dealing directly with hazardous work. They are most vulnerable in the current pandemic situation. They face social distance as well as exclusion in both villages and cities (Kumar, 2014). The majority of the workers belong to lower castes. Their educational level is also low and they have very little ownership of resources. They are at the lowest rung of society. Considering these attributes, the present article focuses on special attention for the safety and security of the sanitation workers during the Covid-19 crisis.

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Coronavirus may leave soon, but when will the caste virus leave?


Keerthi Nathan

keerthi nathan 2020During the first week of April, there was a news report about a man who was reportedly killed for allegedly marrying outside his caste. The incident was reported to have taken place in a village in Tiruvannamalai district in Tamil Nadu. This alleged honor killing was carried out when the state was amidst the nationwide lockdown. Another incident which took place in the same Tiruvannamalai district saw a cop assaulting and thrashing a Dalit youth in full public view. The cop went absconding soon after and there’s no update on it as of date.

Even during these times of lockdown, caste atrocities have refused to die down and we see reports of shaming and killing in the name of caste. Lockdown or no lockdown, when it comes to protecting the so-called honor of their caste, these people do not care about anything that comes in their way. Not when it comes to preserving their caste pride. This is about safeguarding the integrity and honor in the name of caste. Let us now look at how Dalits have suffered in the name of caste and discrimination during times of calamity.

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Corona, Social Disruption and Academic Anxieties

 

Umar Nizar

umarThe Journal of Extreme Anthropology recently carried a study by an Indian academic on the forced movement of millions of migrant labourers and their families across the states, and mostly into the Gangetic Delta. The domain under consideration, for too long has been infected with the caste virus. The author of the journal article ironically also happens to be an expert on 'post-humanism'. 'Can the subaltern speak?' asks Spivak, but the real question seems to be, 'can the bourgeois listen ?' Will the third world academic community refrain from caricaturing the sufferings of millions of their fellow humans? The exigencies of academic production seem to have subordinated basic decency.

 The fact that caste has been deemed a benign, and less 'extreme' case of anthropological aberration by the publishers of the 'extreme' journal is open to debate. Hierarchical subjugation has pathologized billions of Indians across the ages. Today, the disruption of mainstream society and the possibilities for new forms of cohesion and dynamism that it offered must be put up for analysis.

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Time to destroy the stereotypes about Dalit occupations


Anurag Minus Verma

anurag minus vermaRecently many of us have seen/read news about a few Indians thanking sanitation workers (read Dalits) with flowers for combating the corona pandemic on the streets. Such rare gestures look pleasant but this doesn’t change the fact that these are mere gestures1. It is no surprise that in these emergency times, many Dalits are out there and fighting the battle. The same community that is the most inhumanely treated in India.

I even heard a comment a few days ago at my apartment building that “We must thank these ‘lower castes’ who are taking care of sanitation issues in these tough times.“

Such comments are welcome but I wondered if we have a misconception that the contribution of Dalits in India is limited to cleaning the dirt of society. Are we ignorant of the variety of occupations that Dalits are/were masters of?

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Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s 129th Birth Anniversary Commemoration

 

Ambedkar King Study Circle

On Thursday April 16, 2020, the Ambedkar King Study Circle located in California, also known as AKSC, commemorated the 129th birthday of Babasaheb Dr. B.R Ambedkar. Due to the the COVID-19 virus outbreak and the nationwide shelter in place in order to prevent the spread, AKSC decided to commemorate the event through an online video conference call.

sujatha surepally aksc

Mr. Selva coordinated the program, and the chief guest speaker was Dr. Sujatha Surepally, the head of the Department of Sociology at Satavahana University Karimnagar, Telangana, India. Dr. Surepally addressed the gathering on the topic "Indian Contradiction: Socially Feudal and Economically Digital, What needs to be done". She began by pointing out that we cannot separate economic and social feudalism from one another as they are intertwined, and they are present in every aspect of life in India. "When did we have Capitalism in India?" she wondered while pondering over the long history of production systems in India.

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Covid-19: Bhilwara Model, Breaking the myth of merit


Neeraj Bunkar

neeraj bunker 2020While the whole world is fighting with the Corona pandemic, India too has not been able to keep itself out of its grasp. On January 30th, 2020, the first case in India was reported in Kerala. The number rose to 3 by the February 5th, when some students returned to India from China’s Wuhan. Later, we saw the first death due to corona in India, on 12th March. It was a 76-year-old returnee from Saudi Arabia. Such has been the rise in the numbers of the corona patients that almost all the Indian states are now affected. This exponential rise could be gauged from the fact that from nearly 100 infected patients on 15th March, the number went up to about 1000 on 28th March, then almost 2000 and 3000 by 2nd April and 4th April respectively. And the latest, by 11th April, the number rose to 6565 in the country. The death toll had risen to 239 as I write this article; the numbers are still increasing.

In the Bhilwara region of Rajasthan state, the 1st corona patient was reported on 19th March. With 5 more cases on the very next day i.e. 20th March, the District Collector Rajendra Bhatt of Bhilwara district authority ordered curfew with immediate effect. What started with one infected Doctor of a private hospital, through the staff, the virus spread in the district, after which the said hospital was sealed immediately.

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