So, we are sitting inside the four walls of our comfortable houses with all the necessary ingredients we need to cope with the lockdown. But what about those whom life has not offered these facilities? Was it their fault? Or was it the fault of the competitive structure of living?
The pandemic is a serious issue, and so are hunger and wages. As the world is battling COVID-19, with predominantly capitalist countries falling on their knees, we must return to the fundamental question of the effectiveness of capitalism and the standard of living it claims.
Why? Because inequality is increasing whereas growth is slowing down. It is not at all surprising to see India’s top 1% owning 73% of the country’s wealth.
Countries are facing medicinal scarcity as well as infrastructural. That’s the reality. Even all the monitoring couldn’t predict the attack. But amidst this chaos, I am perplexed – why hasn’t much been talked about the poor? About the daily wage workers who live on their daily earnings?
If they won’t be able to work, how will they survive?
If you think that there is no rich and poor division in the times of coronavirus, you are wrong. There is always rich and poor differentiation, and it determines a lot of other aspects during the lockdown.
The poor class needs support as they hardly save any money. They don’t earn a lot to save. The states must release funds for them, and some of them have done it.
But what about the others? Furthermore, those who have announced economic aid must also clarify – how will the poor be getting the money? Are you delivering it to their homes? Or do they have to come out and form queues outside government offices? Will it not make them prone to infection? How will you contact them? Newspaper ads? What if they don’t read newspapers? What if they never went to school? Electronic ads? What if they can’t afford televisions or radios? They might not have smartphones to browse the internet as well.
What about the homeless population? There is a reason they are living under extreme poverty and it’s not by choice. They don’t pretend to be faqir. They are faqirs.
The irony is that middle class leaders think the entire population to be middle class, educated and updated. The poor class might not know what coronavirus is or what they should do to avoid it. They might not have access to sanitisers or mask. These products are expensive anyway. Also, they are unemployed. They don’t hold salaried jobs like the population dictating the discourse.
“When you have to go to work everyday to feed your stomachs, diseases and death don’t matter to you that much” I was once told by a chacha who used to pull rickshaw in our locality. That seems true now.
There is another problem that they will face even if they get the allotted money. The increasing prices of products in the stores. Due to shortage of supply and high demand, the rates of products have increased – at least in my state. So will they, with that limited money, be able to buy food for their families? What if there is no food left as the ones with money have stored their houses full with food?
No one cares, right?
Let’s sell the ’American Dream’ and buy them some food. Can we do it? Or maybe exchange some statues for some food. Would it be possible? Has there been equality in distribution of products to customers, people wouldn’t have been worrying about food in corners of India.
Capitalism has failed us. But it is not socialism that we are witnessing in India. Here, no one cares about the poor section but themselves. They want themselves to survive. People here are paranoid. There is no class consciousness, or even general human consciousness. Thus, the racist remarks against Northeastern citizens.
Beyond these unfounded racists attacks, people are asking doctors and medical staffs to vacate their houses and complexes or are preventing their entries into campuses and colonies in the fear that they might bring in the virus with them. That’s how the capitalist mindset works. Isn’t it?
Don’t you think things should change? Don’t you think caste, creed, race, religion, and class shouldn’t matter? If yes, perhaps some kind of socialism is what we should be looking for. With Cuba setting the example, we must learn and act. Let’s stand for the weak and feeble. Let’s stand for equality. Let’s stand for the right to life. Let’s stand for each other. Let’s stand for the world.
Sutputra Radheye is a poet and commentator.
Featured image credit: PTI