Human beings, the most evolved living beings on earth are constantly being challenged by a virus that is teaching this generation what a pandemic means. The moment we think we have got a shield against this microorganism, it mutates into new and innovative variants to spread faster. Even in its third wave, it is wrecking havoc, for it may sound mild, but it may be just slightly milder than previous variants.
History bears a testimony to the fact that in case of calamities – natural or man-made, the poor are worst sufferers. Their lives come to a standstill. Arranging for two square meals also becomes a daunting task. Their lives and livelihoods get affected by calamities because they live in a day to day cycle. The families are further pushed to margins and food, health and education – basic rights are compromised first.
Consider the example of a drought or flood. The worst affected during these extremities are poor farmers. Their lives depend on harvest of that year, which depends on the vagaries of monsoon. So many farmers are pushed into cycles of debt trap because of such calamities. Many social ills begin at this point of not being able to sustain family.
Take an instance of cyclone. The poor near the coastlines are evacuated, rehabilitated and take time to recover the losses. Even if lives are saved, livelihoods are lost. They are pushed back into the realms of poverty which would even take more time to come out from. Same is the case with forest fire, the poor living under thatched roofs are upended. I want to drive home an important point – poor are worst affected in case of any ontoward occurence. Even incase of diseases like Cholera, Malaria, Diarrhoea which have ample cures available, the poor may not survive the disease or if they survive it takes time to fall back to a routine. This divide can be seen between the western and third world nations.
But here is a phenomenon, that is affecting all – rich and poor, young and old, ones in mansions and ones in slums, rich and poor nations. It does not discriminate socially, economically, geographically. The rich also suffer in this unique pandemic. They obviously can buy better facilities but the infection has the potential to affect one and all. It harps on individual nature of being a social animal.
I call this pandemic a great leveller. It has shown it has universal potential to affect anybody. At the same time, it is widening the gap between rich and poor. While we are learning to adjust to new normals, i hope the pandemic is an eye opener and motivates us to unite against inequality.