There is always a school of thought that opposes the political whataboutery over death, destruction or diseases. Though such whataboutery is mostly abhorred, it’s, at times, necessary to oppose a blanket ban on raising uncomfortable questions on agony, especially when it’s connected with the larger good. As the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has truly globalised the world, at least in panic and frantic attempts to contain the spread of the virus, we must dare to ask who is spreading Coronavirus in India? Which means whose disease the Coronavirus is right now in the Indian class perspective? Also, whose disease the Coronavirus threatens to become?
We can start analysing the answers to these questions by going through the love story of an urban, heterosexual, upper-middle class couple with privileges and, sadly, also Coronavirus infection. Their love story will answer the question — who is spreading Coronavirus in India?
The man is a Google techie based in Bengaluru and got married to this woman in February. They went to Italy for their honeymoon. Honeymoon in Italy is, of course, out of the common man’s reach. Anyways, after their return, earlier this month, the man was tested positive for Coronavirus and his wife was quarantined too. So far, this is quite normal as the couple contacted the disease during their foreign tour and brought it home; it was thought that by keeping them quarantined, with their cooperation, the transmission of Coronavirus can be prevented. But there is always someone, who is spreading Coronavirus in India by breaking laws using their privileges.
Soon after being quarantined, the woman, who hails from Agra, Uttar Pradesh, spoke to her father, who is a senior engineer in Northern Railways. Her father didn’t show any regards to common people’s lives and called her back. It wasn’t difficult for the woman to buy an air ticket, slip out of the quarantine, take a flight to Delhi, then take the Shatabdi Express to Agra. She escaped from Coronavirus quarantine in Bengaluru to meet her parents in Agra, while spreading the virus all the way! She, even if it was her emotional urge that drove her to meet her parents, actually took the virus to her parents and infected them.
When the Uttar Pradesh Police went to nab her, then her parents threatened the police of dire consequences and resisted from taking the woman and her family members into custody for quarantining. It was only when a magistrate got involved in the case that the Uttar Pradesh Police could get hold of the family members and isolate them. The woman was found positive for Coronavirus when her samples were tested at Aligarh’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital.
While thousands of people travel through Bengaluru and Delhi airports, hundreds of thousands visit New Delhi Railway Station every day. Thousands board the Shatabdi Express that the woman took, and this makes a large number of people susceptible to Coronavirus infection. Who is responsible for making thousands vulnerable to a deadly virus? Who is spreading Coronavirus in India?
Was this woman a poor and uneducated one, the very socio-economic block that the rich are now advising each other to quarantine themselves from? At a time when the country’s poor and underprivileged sections are blamed for spreading diseases due to their “unhygienic lifestyle”, and are prevented from accessing the places where the rich, who have brought the Coronavirus infection to India through their foreign tours for business and leisure — like the Google techie and his wife — live, then this disastrous journey of the woman from Bengaluru to Agra spreading the virus shows who are the real culprits and who is spreading Coronavirus in India.
Unfortunately, this woman isn’t the sole violator of the control mechanism. Not long back, a Kerala family escaped the mandatory screening for Coronavirus to enjoy holidaying and thereby spread the disease. When they were diagnosed with Coronavirus, the damage was already done, many more people had come in contact with them during the same time period. Five suspects of coronavirus escaped from Nagpur’s Mayo Hospital’s Isolation Ward, where they were quarantined. Such reckless acts by a certain section of people, who are socio-economically at the higher echelons of the society, jeopardise the lives of the poor, who aren’t the carrier of the disease. No wonder, they belong to the same class-caste group that advocates self-quarantining and social distance maintenance, and work from their homes, while forcing people from their domestic workers, garbage collectors to their office employees and factory workers to continue to work risking their lives due to the absence of any public support system.
It’s high time that in order to protect themselves from the ordeal and imminent suffering, the common people pressurise the government to sternly act against these rich and upper-middle class blocks transmitting Coronavirus. It’s time to keep asking who is spreading Coronavirus in India and how the governments, at state and Union levels, are dealing with this menace? These threat groups must be socially isolated to ensure they don’t end up making more people sick and ruin their lives.