Bilal Ahmad Dar
Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception. – Carl Sagan
The corona pandemic – which defies not only diagnosis but also medication – has nudged the mind of the whole world towards the question of survival. Marx, as we know, divided society into three economic classes: bourgeois, proletariat, and lumpen-proletariat. Among the three, lumpen-proletariat is the most precarious and disadvantaged class. Beggars, daily-wagers, prostitutes, criminals, and the insane belong to this class. The condition of this class can never change. But still, this class is part of our society. On humanitarian and ethical grounds we should accept this class and take care of the people who belong to it.
This pandemic that has put a kind of existential brake should alert us to the precariousness of people who are not in a position to even feed themselves. But alas! We are insensitive to their plight. Survival even for the rich people has become difficult, which is why they are storing up on whatever they can lay hands upon. When even the rich, the bourgeois, are in such a vulnerable position, how are the proletariat and lumpen-proletariat surviving this lockdown? It is a question that should give us the creeps and also compel us to think about them, if at all we bother to care. In normal times we do not care a fig about the poor and do not bother to feed the hungry or nurse the sick. The world we live in is unequal and unjust. But shouldn’t this pandemic stir us into doing something to reduce this inequality? The beggars, the disabled, the insane and the destitute survive on the leftovers of the rich. Have the rich made any arrangements for them? From street vendors to daily-wage labourers, the list of the destitute is only growing. No doubt that NGOs and governments both at the central and state level are working to help these people, but this temporary care won’t last. We should find a permanent solution to the economic problems of these people. We cannot live our life happily and savour the beauty of the world until we take care of the people who are not in a position to eat and have no home to sleep in. Let’s be sensitive to the woes of the people who are more vulnerable to this pandemic, who do not have money to buy any medicine.
The government stresses on precautions and medical advisories are published every day. On the orders and advice of the government, people have self- quarantined themselves in their cozy and comfortable homes. But how are the homeless faring? Where will they quarantine themselves? We should build How would they buy face-masks and hand-sanitisers when they do not have food to eat and homes to live in? Rousseau opined that law is the invention of the rich. The people sitting in high chairs make laws for their own ulterior motives and lucrative benefits. They should make laws also for the welfare of the poor but they dilly-dally. There is deliberate inaction and inertia on the part of the establishment. It seems the State does not want to erase the binary of the rich and poor, of the raw and cooked, as Levi Strauss said. The exclusionary ideology of the establishment is behind the pathetic condition of the poor.
A permanent solution to the problems of the ever-precarious people can only come by thinking about the survival of the unfittest, not of the fittest. Let’s play our part in bringing about this change. As Jane Addams said, “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us.”
The writer is a research scholar at Department of English, AMU. [email protected]