Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, a data journalist based in Chennai. Every night on this mini-cast, I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m considering this question — what will the epidemic mean for the lives and livelihoods of India’s dalits?
Tomas Pueyo’s March 10 Medium post: https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca
Amit Thorat and Omkar Joshi’s research from the IHDS on untouchability: https://ihds.umd.edu/sites/ihds.umd.edu/files/publications/papers/ThoratJoshi3.pdf
There are already news reports of dalit sanitation workers facing ostracisation, of dalits returning from cities to their villages to discrimination and even violence: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/15/asia/india-coronavirus-lower-castes-hnk-intl/index.html
I feel much less hopeful than that. The deadly levels of Islamophobia that have come surging out of people’s homes and phones makes me fear that the epidemic will only give pseudo-medical or pseudo-scientific cover to the worst prejudices that many Indians anyway harboured. I’d love to be proved wrong, but I haven’t seen the radical introspection that change would have required — quite the opposite in fact.
Thank you for listening. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. Tomorrow — a new question.