1. What are your observations of the typical characteristics of the Indian society that got manifested during the COVID-19 pandemic? Discuss.
Demand of the question:
It expects students to write about the typical characteristics of Indian society that got manifested in the current pandemic of COVID-19.
The pandemic painfully laid bare societal fault lines in Indian society. Health emergency induced sudden lockdown, migrant crisis, recession, unemployment and too many unknowns which shook the sensitivities of the human mind.
Typical characteristic of Indian society during COVID-19:
- Tradition with Modernism: Indians decided to boost their immunity by resorting to Ayurvedic medicines widely popular in Indian homes during nationwide lockdown. The concept of physical distancing has been already rooted in traditional Indian lifestyle like greeting by Namaste. Homemade face covers and masks are also playing an important role in the fight against corona virus.
- Theme Of Unity Is Diversity: Despite of the the initial attempts to put blame on the minority community, hate mongering Indian media with communal agenda even when staring at a pandemic; Indian society has shown excellent examples of unity in diversity. E.g. stories of Muslim neighbours carrying Hindu cremation, Hindu family was seen arranging iftar for a Muslim boy.
- Patriarchy: Sadly it remains one of the major features of Indian society again reflected in the pandemic of COVID-19. With anxiety-driven domestic violence on the rise, women are suffering more than men. E.g. National Commission for Women (NCW), which receives complaints of domestic violence from across India, has recorded more than a twofold rise in gender-based violence in the national corona virus lockdown period.
- The Society Is Largely Agrarian And Rural: Around 60% population resides in rural India. Reverse migration of the labour class to rural areas created a threat of spread of pandemic. However, small village locality proved efficient in managing migrants from badly affected cities to quarantine and isolate.
- Class and Caste Divide: lockdown anywhere protects the rich and exposes the poor to human and economic challenges. The poor suffer in lost wages, unemployment and lack of access to welfare. Almost 90 per cent of India’s workforce is in the informal sector, which is hurting the most. An International Labour Organisation report suggests that COVID-19 may take about 400 million workers in India deeper into poverty. Online access being a luxury available only to some, children of the poor is lagging behind in learning as well. E.g. online video of a poor fruit seller letting migrants pick bananas from his cart. Men, women and children only picked up what they needed—just one or two bananas each. The poor still have dignity. It is the middle class that has lost it by way of our materialism.
However, it is not only about Indian society but the global phenomenon.
- Collapse of compassion: The death of one person is a tragedy; the death of one million is a statistic, a remark attributed to Joseph Stalin. And also Mother Teresa once said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act.” There is a tendency to turn away from mass suffering known as the ‘collapse of compassion’. When the number of victims increases, the quantum of sympathy actually decreases, so does the willingness to help. People tune down their empathy. This appears to be a survival trait programmed in our brains to protect us from being overwhelmed.
- Pandemics are both biological and social in their nature and consequences. If we ignore one at the expense of the other, we do so at our peril.
Certainly, pandemic will leave a deep scar on the Indian psyche which saw the worst scenes in mainland India after the 1947 Partition. A very sad reflection on our self-serving society of which government is just a part.
Despite desperate times and uncertain future, Indian society has shown many rays of hope in voluntary initiative of some well off like Sonu Sood or Akshay Kumar and many common individuals like health, sanitation workers, bankers, pharmacists and police force which boosted trust in humanity.