Social Distancing Enhances Social Stigma? #AtoZChallenge

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I’ve mostly maintained a positive attitude through the coronavirus lockdown. However, one thing that has upset and worried me from the beginning, is the social stigma faced by certain sections of society.

‘Stigma’ is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as:

“Negative feelings that people have about particular circumstances or characteristics that somebody may have.”

When the coronavirus crisis began in January, China was the only country to be largely affected. Sadly, this resulted in people with mongoloid features becoming the first victims of an ignorant blame game, around the world. How was it their fault? One can blame a government for not announcing the rise of the disease when it should have, and not containing the spread of the disease as well as it might have; but how was the disease itself the fault of the citizens of that country? And even more incongruously, how was it the fault of people around the world, who happen to resemble the facial features of the people of China?

Racism was an ongoing battle fought by Asians around the world, but this crisis raised xenophobia to new heights. Delhi also reported stray incidents of young girls from the North-East being heckled on roads and called ‘coronavirus’!

Things worsened when a large Islamic congregation’s meeting in Delhi, just before national lockdown, came to light. The religious meeting was ill-advised and should’ve been cancelled keeping the global circumstances in mind, but the aftermath of religious hatred and suspicion of one single community as spreaders, was uncalled for.

Every Muslim of the country wasn’t present at that meeting, nor was every Muslim propagating hate, even if some were. It’s so sad that Muslims as a whole became the easy and unfortunate outlets for people to blame the spread of this deadly disease.

The culmination of this accusatory behaviour, happened when an affluent family from South Delhi contracted Covid-19 and blamed it on their Muslim guard, who denied having visited that particular religious congregation. On the basis of their verbal assurance, the local police filed an FIR against this poor man. Guess what his Covid-19 test results were? Negative. The family then backtracked, saying they had never wanted to file an FIR as they were only speculating and the police went ahead and filed it on their own. The police tried to shove blame for filing the FIR on the affected family. In all this, who suffered the most? The poor guard who probably won’t be hired for a long, long time.

With an extension to the lockdown, these social stigmas seem to be spreading far and wide. Though I can never condone them, I can at least understand the basis for racism and religious intolerance. However, I simply fail to understand how people can attack our frontliners i.e. the brave healthcare workers who are saving us from this virus?!

Doctors have been spat at and refused entry into homes and societies for fear of catching the virus, and yesterday a doctor who died of Covid-19 wasn’t given a proper burial because a furious mob was worried that his infected germs would spread to their neighbourhood.

Are we living in some dystopian nightmare? Has humanity died? Has all modicum of sense left the brains of these people? They can break the norms of social distancing to stand together against a burial, but they can’t allow a doctor, who died protecting our countrymen, dignity during his final rites?

This is a sad, sad situation and one I hope our government counters firmly and effectively.

Social distancing means being extra cautious in one’s dealings with fellow human beings during this crisis, but it doesn’t mean propagating hatred against anything that seems a vague threat.

Can we as a community spread this message against the ignorant social stigmas that abound in pockets of our country? After all, we are in this together, even if we are apart.

On a lighter note, here’s my tip to beat the lockdown blues today:

Send a message of encouragement to someone working on the frontlines today– a healthcare worker, a journalist, a person selling essential goods, delivery men, people who work in NGO’s providing food and shelter etc. They could do with a smile, and so could you.

Here are some TV shows you should check out with the letter S:

“South Park” on Netflix and “Seinfeld” on Amazon Prime Video are comedies on opposite ends of the spectrum. The former is an animated show for adults and the latter an iconic sitcom from the 90s. Both are complete laugh riots.

A book that you should read is:

“Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra, which is one of my favourite books of all time. Chandra’s gritty look into Mumbai’s crime scene is gripping and far better than the TV show of the same name. Well worth the 1000 pages!

There are so many blogs I enjoy reading that begin with the letter S, but today I’ll leave you with three:

www.soniadogra.com written by Sonia Dogra has a riveting series through this A to Z Challenge. She is recreating lesser-known incidents from world history in the form of poetry.

www.soniasmusings.com written by Sonia Chatterjee will give you much needed laughs as she shares her picks of the best Indian comedians.

www.surbhiprapanna.com written by Surbhi Prapanna is a fantastic place to check out some easy and healthy recipes- perfect for lockdown.

That’s it for today folks!

Please check out my daily update videos on Instagram Stories for #LockdownWithTheLadyLawyer and follow me there to stay better connected. Also tell me your favourite TV Shows/ movies/ books/ bloggers with the letter S?

Sayonara till tomorrow! (farewell in Japanese)

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This post has been written for the #AtoZChallenge 2020. My theme this year is #LockdownWithTheLadyLawyer, where I’m journaling my thoughts during the coronavirus lockdown, and sharing numerous recommendations that will help keep your spirits up. Read my other posts here:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R

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*This is not a sponsored post.

**Copyright in pictures and content belongs to nooranandchawla.com and cannot be republished or repurposed without express permission of the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action. 

65 comments

  1. Quite tough reading but it’s important people are aware of what’s going on. I think being honest is a step towards tackling the problems. Thanks for this post. Crucial reading in a time when it’s difficult to even collect data and share news effectively.

  2. The worst news of this discrimination came in today morning when a doctor was denied burial. I saw a picture from Mumbai where there were two different lifts for servants and owners in an apartment building. I’ve heard stories where educated people are saying they won’t get the virus because they are ‘clean’! It is endless. I just hope this is a minority we are talking about.

  3. An eyeopener post.
    Why do people forget that above racism or religion or color is humanity and human existence. I seriously wish this lock down and survival teaches some good lessons for generations to come.
    Sonia dogra, surbhi prapanna and sonia chatterjee all are awesome bloggers and I regularly visit them.

  4. The doctor incident just showed how we have no humanity left. The discrimination against Muslims was also not needed. I think the govt also added fuel to the fire by doing a different count for them. While many people have come out and helped in every possible way, there have been instances where people have become selfish and not inhumane. People are not paying salaries to their maids i believe. Completely beyond me. Thanks for the much needed post

  5. I feel very strongly about the stigmatization in our society. I feel the bias and prejudice is ingrained in our system. Educational institutes, media, politicians and other influencers should therefore work towards removing that. Instead I see that working the other way round and I feel awful about it.

  6. Such a thought provoking post Noor, and this is really sad and unfortunate aspect of Coronvirus pandemic. there are so many incidence are happening in our country that are increasing the tension and worsening the already bad situations due to disease spread. loved your tips for beating the lock down..
    and aww..thanks a lot dear for mentioning my blog name in today’s recommendation. your post has made me day, it means a lot to me. thanks thanks..

  7. Right! We should learn some lessons from this lockdown incidences. Blaming is very easy but maintaining harmony is the most important. Recommendations are on the point.

  8. Loved your recommendations of the shows- ‘Seinfeld’ has been my favorite and had watched it long time ago. Would love to refresh it now.
    Your blog recommendations are awesome. I enjoy reading posts from Sonia Dogra, Sonia Chatterjee and Surbhi too!

    Covid-19 and its one of the repercussions of further increase in discrimination is grave and serious. We can only hope and pray that we learn to rise above it and emerge out of all these co-existent situations harmoniously.

  9. Such a thoughtful post Noor. How many of us sitting in the comforts of our cozy homes actaully spare a thought to the hatred being directed towards people with no actual fault of their. They belong to a community, but they do not necessarily represent it.

  10. Initially I was happy about the drop in crime and other atrocities from the news during the times of corona. But we’ve managed to retain hate crime even now. The attacks on health care workers are extremely sad and deplorable. We do need to share our support to them as much as possible.

  11. Thoughtful post Noor!! skin color or religion or a specific country cannot take this blame for corona, it happened, and it happened very fast as no one could control it. Spreading hatred is the worst thing one can do right now. People praised all doctors and same people denies burial of a doctor who died in corona. I wish things could change over night, Have a beautiful day✨💐

  12. At the outset thank you so much Noor for the me nation. Means so much. I am glad you enjoyed reading the series.
    What an important post on social stigma. It is said that in times like these true nature of humankind is revealed. It makes me sad to hear so many stray cases of inconsiderate, callous behaviour. It is very common to target/stereotype a community based on generalization. And it is rather a sad trend.

  13. This was such a pleasant surprise, Noor. Thank you so much for mentioning me. I’m glad I could bring smile on some faces in difficult times like this.

    But a bigger thanks from me and my family for writing about the social stigma that doctors and other Healthcare professionals face while doing their job. We need more posts like yours and stronger initiatives to spread awareness and stop the hatred. Love and hugs.

  14. seriously humanity somewhere is killed. Doctor case is so shocking who has given life, treatment and he does not get respect ,honour whereas he was treated as horrible thing.

  15. I hear you Noor and feel exactly the same about the unjustified stigmas. They are heart- breaking and thank you for raising the issue. Also, I loved your recommendations for today as always

  16. Social distancing and social stigma, both are very relevant topics. Glad you discussed about them. I wait for the word you use to bid farewell to us. Today’s one is the prettiest of all. I learned the word in childhood while watching the song sayonara, sayonara.. I love the word. Nice post Noor.

  17. Hi Noor, the one thing you have not mentioned is the role played by the godi media channels like Arnab Goswami’s Republic and Navika Kumar’s Times Now in demonizing the entire Muslim community because of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation. And another thing is I can’t bring myself to believe that the congregation would have taken place if the Delhi police had taken timely steps to stop it. The Delhi police is under Amiit Shah’s home ministry and I for one find it very difficult to believe that they did not know it was going to be conducted. But still it was a mistake but why the hell take it out on the entire Muslim community? And just as you say why tease and attack peopĺe from yhe North East just because they have Mongoloid features?

  18. Many incidents happening these days around the world have questioned humanity but we have to find hope in these times. Your post does instil those sleepy lazy brains of mine to find positivity to stay strong

  19. I am glad u penned it down so beautifully Noor. It is really unjust that the whole Muslim community is being targeted and so sad poor doctor couldn’t be buried with proper rights! It’s really sad…

    On a lighter note ,I love both your show recommendations.

  20. News updates are really heart breaking Noor, unfortunately despite if so much advancement and modernity our society is still not able to come above from their pathetic mindset towards racism, it is not about India only, even developed countries are failing to have a control on it. This is really sad sad and sad. About recommendations I did not read the book but yes have watched between both Sacred games 1 &2 Part 1 was worth watching. I am regular follower of awesome sonia dogra’s and surbhi’s blog, I will surely check sonia Ch.’s blog also as if it has the theme of humor,would love to read!

  21. I always thought Covid- 19 was a big leveler but the man always stoops down to new lows. Burial denial to a doctor was heart-wrenching. So many shocking incidents even during this tough times. Thought provoking post, Noor. More posts are needed to spread positive vibes .

  22. “They can break the norms of social distancing to stand together against a burial, but they can’t allow a doctor, who died protecting our countrymen, dignity during his final rites?” I am totally with you. The racism, cateism and evrything sucks. But the unfair treatment of front-liners is heart-breaking. This is the thanks that they get for their service! 🙁 I have heard that many health care workers were thrown out by landlords! It is sad and unfair. When will things change? 🙁
    I like Seinfeld too. I have not watched Sacred Games. As for the blog recommendations, Sonia Dogra and Sonia Chatterjee are amazing! I haven’t checked out Surbhi Prapanna’s blog. I’ll do that.

  23. We Indians like to play the blame game a lot.Racism, caste ism and emerging Hindutva s leading us dunno where. ell researched post Noor.I was glad to read that the pizza delivery boy tested negative.

    1. The pizza delivery boy was a separate incident Harjeet- he actually had Covid 19 but he is Hindu, so it didn’t matter as
      much.
      The guard was a Muslim and he was the one who suffered the most, despite not having Coronavirus.

  24. This racial/religious hatred is a very sad way to exist. It’s been there, not always hidden deep, but now? Over the top. Our S******d in chief had started calling this the Chinese Virus. Haven’t heard that in a bit. Like most things that comes out of ITS mouth has probably been walked back.

    Suggestions starts with a S:

    Book: Sirens of Titan or Slaughter-House Five, both by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Sirens was the first book of his that I loved. It led me to all of his work. Slaughter-House Five blows me away with its construction and vivid visuals through the words. Both highly recommended.

    Movie: Silent Running. A quiet SciFi movies set in outer space and starring Bruce Dern. It was an ecology movement before the idea truly took off.

    TV show: Star Trek all the way. The only crew that I was “eh” about was Voyager, although it’s my son’s favorite. There were excellent episodes, and then there were…. eh episodes. My favorite is Deep Space Nine, starting with the half-way point of the first season. It started to really come together, esp that season’s final episode.

    Let’s do what we can to quell the violence around the world. Stand up. Another thing that starts with S.

  25. It is indeed so sad about the doctor being denied burial by the mob. Have we lost humanity, empathy, common sense, compassion for fellow beings? When will we learn?
    I have watched both the seasons of Sacred Games, reading the book is on my TBR.

  26. This is an eye opening post Noor. These days situation is getting worst and people are doing nothing instead of blaming . I wish every thing will be fine soon .

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