Dealing with COVID has not been the same for all, treated rich and poor differently
“Aap Log Ghar Mai Rhe Sakte Hai, hum Rahenge toh pet kaise bharenge? hum Dihadi par kaam karte hai, ghar kaise baithe”
– A truck painter
COVID-19 pandemic has been a disaster for all, and the outlook of it seems like it has been even for everyone. It has affected everyone. Well, not that it has not, but the way it has treated the poor has been utterly different and tragic than that of the rich. From the healthcare facilities to how sitting at home has been to them, here is a segment-wise description of how has COVID pandemic treated rich and poor differently.
“Madam, aap log beemar pad gye toh ilaaj toh kara loge, hum bimaar pade toh kaha se uthayenge beemari ka kharcha. Kaam par aaye toh dar lagta hai beemari se, nhi aaye toh vaise bhi ghar nhi chalega”
– Poonam, a housemaid
Quarantine is a privilege
The first thing that each and every individual has been suggested to obey during the pandemic is quarantining oneself. This means keeping oneself indoors. This means not stepping out for work. Well, for an urban dweller, it can still be feasible to function through their laptops and tablets, but for someone whose bread and butter is that daily waged manual job, what will that person do? Lakhs and lakhs of migrant workers migrated, lost their lives, not to the epidemic, but to the condition it has put them in. So, we agree well, Quarantine itself is a privilege.
Access to resources
Accessibility to resources has been one of the most stressful things for people. In the past few days, we have seen social media messages of people searching for some of the other resources for the treatment of their loved ones. For a privileged class, social media is an accessible space, but for the poor, it is not. A person affected, in a poor family has to go to a government hospital to seek treatment, look for cheap treatment, or perhaps no budget treatment, because they don’t have any other option.
Education has been digitized during the whole pandemic. Teachers are taking online classes, the prerequisite for which is a smartphone. Well, a poor family, which perhaps doesn’t even have a smartphone, how are they going to figure out the education of their child? 24 million children are at risk of not returning to school next year due to the economic fallout of COVID-19, a report by The Hindu suggests.
Travel and transport
For a rich, if a person has been affected, they can access the facility by taking a cab or driving their own car to the hospital, but what about the poor. Or forget about taking someone to the hospital, even taking someone back from the hospital safely has become a luxury, alive, or dead, does not matter. The rates of ambulances are skyrocketing. A report by TOI suggests that Rs 10,000 for a 4-km trip, Rs 42,000 for a round trip have been charged by Ambulances. Can we expect a person who is unable to meet the basic necessities to be able to deal with these high prices? And it is not just the travels for healthcare, but travels in general. Rich can afford a uber, poor can’t. Rich can afford safe travel, poor can’t.
Last but not the least, in fact, the most important one, the money. Rich does have an access to money, but the poor don’t. The majority of rich are not the ones whose jobs have been taken away, they just have got a switch from their lifestyle, but the poor are the ones who have become jobless.
Access to leisure activities
How are people in lockdowns dealing with it? How are they passing time? Perhaps by watching films, talking to friends online, etc. But for a person in low-income houses, do they have mobile phones and televisions? Especially the children in low-income families. What is their past time? Playing outdoor games. Have they got access to that during this pandemic?
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