One has always scoffed, sniggered or screamed on hearing the phrase: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This infamous opening from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities has been bandied about on almost every occasion from the fun to the funereal. Though, you’ll have to forgive me while I go ahead and use it as a crutch myself to describe these present times of COVID-19. With the declaration that this is a global pandemic, there has been acceleration in the ways that we’re seeing established government systems breaking down, we’re seeing the rupture of polite pretences and the exposition of prejudices in society, and the reconfiguring of the concept of “essentials” and “essential services” and so many other little things that need to be reset that we’ve regarded as “normal” all this while.
In the Indian context, right-wing, nationalistic politics since the election of the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 has found a new lease of life. In a lot of ways, one could argue that it piggybacked on the penetration of technology to mount its campaign stirring hate and violence primarily among the Hindu and Muslim communities as well as arresting activists and protestors who dared to dissent. It has turned out that this agenda of “Hindu Nation” has rather gained momentum in this time of COVID-19 instead of taking a backseat. This unstoppable charge in turn has forced all minority communities in the country – across all domains of society – to re-look at the way they engage with their present, their publics, their politics and their practices as well.
On 24 March at 8 pm, this country of 1.3 billion was given less than four hours before a country-wide lockdown was called by the prime minister without any kind of socioeconomic stimulus package or plan. While it has brought the nation’s economy to a grinding halt, it has hit informal sectors in a way that is still being collated and calculated.
In this article, the attempt is to look at the way that women and queer practitioners across India have adapted to the present state of affairs and the plans they’re hatching for the time after this.
Continue reading on GenderIT.org.