In 2021, the virus mutated, so did racism

Illustration: Immayabharathi K

Coronavirus, our rhetorical selves, declared was a great leveller. It took down the rich as it took down the poor. It spread across the ‘civilised’ West as it swept the ‘uncouth’ East. From West to East, from North to South, Covid also exposed that racism itself was a global pandemic.

‘Corona’ has been the latest addition to invectives such as ‘chinky’, ‘momo’, ‘bahadur’ and ‘Chinese’ often hurled at the people from Northeast India as the geo-tagging of a deadly virus and its mutants spiralled an existent social evil to the extreme across the globe.

A study conducted under the aegis of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) earlier this year found that people from the Northeast “faced an increased number of acts of hate and prejudices against them” since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020.

The finding was based on personal interviews of around 1,200 people from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura in six metropolitan cities — Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

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