India’s coronavirus response needs to address the question of social inequity

How do you discuss self-quarantine with a person sharing a tiny shanty with 10 people in a slum? How do you advise social distancing to a manual scavenger? How do you tell an adivasi, who struggles for one meal a day, to prioritise hand sanitisers? How do you educate tuberculosis survivors about cough etiquette?

The epicentre for the global pandemic, Covid-19, recently shifted from China to Europe. China’s authoritarian regime controlled it by enforcing a lockdown, and Europe and the US are putting all their resources to use.

 These measures are important but coloured with class bias. The dominant narrative in India so far has been either about the state enforcing lockdowns or encouraging social distancing, self-quarantine, hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Driven by political optics, public perception and international pressure, these measures are important but coloured with class bias. India must rethink its strategy of epidemic management to be more inclusive of the marginalised sections of the society.

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