The social crisis
We are living in an unusual time. The world has suddenly come to a standstill, with closing down of businesses, and human life restricted. The pandemic crisis of COVID-19 has forced the global citizens to remain in their homes amid lockdown and content themselves with the simpler pleasures of life.
Along with the rising fear and uncertainty, the lockdown has also induced domestic violence, child abuse and depression. Society is going through an unprecedented condition, tackling new challenges from various spheres. A grave social crisis has manifested itself, there is unhappiness, and depression in the homes on the one hand, and economic crisis on the other. Such conditions are unsuitable for any society to survive and prosper.
After we survive
The post COVID-19 world would be required to be remade, keeping in mind what will be at stake in the event of us failing to do so. A society rife with inequality, deprivation, and gender discrimination is an unsustainable society, as has been clearly proven in the past few months; that we are far away from gender equality, in spite of what the feminist movements have achieved for decades, and that a large section of the population of India is living at the margins, who are bearing the heavy brunt of closing down of business due to lockdown. Sociologists, worldwide, are concerned about the various challenges and new social problems that have manifested, as people have been restricted in their homes, forced to cohabit for months without a break, and a large section of the population losing their only means of subsistence.
Understanding Sociology in view of the pandemic
Sociology plays a central role in understanding the extent of the pandemic, the gravity of the social crisis it has generated, as well as an insight into the most vulnerable sections of the population affected. The unbridled urbanization in the 21st century India and the unplanned growth and extension of the cities has also brought with it the gift of slums in numerous areas. With the rising land prices in cities in India, people are forced to settle in ‘jhopris’, for whom, the city ensures the means of subsistence. Extremely close habitation in such places, in addition to common toilets and overall problems of sanitation, has often been mentioned in newspaper headlines, in the event of a disease outbreak like cholera or malaria in the past. But hardly, much is done about it either by the government, political parties or non-governmental organizations. Thousands of labourers migrate to the city in search of jobs, and the only way they could afford to live in the city is in slums.
But, in order to safeguard against covid 19, physical distancing is of utmost importance, a principle which is literally impossible to follow in informal slum settlements. And this time, the government cannot ignore the dire consequences that can result from living in such close proximity. The present corona virus outbreak in Dharavi, in Mumbai, is a case in point. Such problems of a developing country like India could be only addressed by methodological tools of Sociologists, who are trained in field research and scientific observation, and who possess a sound understanding of the culture of the social group they are studying, without prejudice. This makes them unparallel in understanding the social problems in their depth and offering possible solutions.
The crucial role of Sociologists
The government would invariably depend on the Sociologists to understand numerous social problems, for example, the problems encountered by migrant labourers, who have been stranded as a result of the lockdown due to the pandemic. The administration cannot brand them as ‘agitators’, since these are the ground-level workers upon whose shoulders the nation stands. In the event of loosing their jobs, and unable to reach home hundreds of miles away, the responsibility of their care rests with the government. But without due research, and in-depth understanding of the specific problems, solutions have proven to fail. The only people capable of that kind of research with scientific methodology are the Sociologists. With the economy being hit hard, job losses and price rise are bound to follow in the post pandemic world. But with the right research and appropriate policy initiatives, we can prevent the society from descending into poverty and deprivation. By understanding the causes of deprivation and the specific needs to empower the population by generation of resources, we can help in creating a better world.
Sociology, as a discipline, provides the critical insight into society that would be required in the new world. After the world survives the catastrophic wreck left behind by the virus pandemic, India as a nation would require effective social policies to tide over the crisis and rejuvenate. The reformulation of policies of rural and urban development, with an emphasis on sustainability would require the expertise of Sociologists. Methodical observation, and scientific analysis of the social problems could only lead to a better understanding of the problems itself and eventually its solutions. Thus, I believe, in the new world, the services of the Sociologists would be of utmost importance to the national and international community to build a better tomorrow.
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