ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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COVID-19 Pandemic and Racism in the United States and India

The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in many ways. Among the several implications for humanity, is the lesser talked-about issue of racism that has inherent psychological impacts. This article examines the rise of racial discrimination in the two largest democracies of the world—the United States and India. It argues that the stigmatisation of a certain race triggers racial division and hinders the collective fight against the pandemic, and can be as deadly and dangerous to humanity as the virus itself.

The novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) pandemic changed the world in many ways. Of the several implications for humanity, the issues of health concerns and the rapid decline of economy has undoubtedly taken centre stage. With many countries declaring lockdowns and/or social distancing due to the virus outbreak, there were several instances of racial discrimination across the world, including verbal and physical attacks. While the virus itself had given tremendous hardships to humanity, the stigmatisation of a certain people was quite unfortunate. This article analyses racial discrimination in the two largest democracies of the world—the United States (US) and India—following the outbreak of COVID-19 virus in late 2019, and argues that the stigmatisation of a certain people triggers inherent racial division and hinders the collective fight against the pandemic. It also argues that racism can be as deadly and dangerous to humanity as the virus itself.

The US and India are exa­mined in this article for three reasons. First, the US and India are the two largest democracies of the world grappling with racism. Second, there were evidence of increased racial discrimi­nation and stigmatisation in the two countries following the outbreak of the virus. Third, both countries are diversely populated, having a sizeable population of the racial group in question—the Mongoloid. This article, however, does not mean to suggest that there were/are no other forms of discrimination towards other racial or ethnic groups in the two countries. For example, in the US, there are different levels or forms of racism against the blacks and the Hispanic population. Similarly, in India, there are several forms of discrimination against people of lower castes, particularly the Dalits, or even anti-Muslim sentiment across the country following the alleged spread of the virus from an Islamic seminary (Gettleman et al 2020). There were also reports of racism against the Chinese and other Asians elsewhere around the world. This article examines only the spike of racism or discrimination against the Chinese and other Asians of the same Mongoloid group in the US and in India following the outbreak of coronavirus in December 2019 and the spread of the disease across the globe (Page et al 2020). Moreover, the analysis and argument of this article is based on data available from news media reports, commentaries, statements from government leaders and/or civil society organisations, as well as the author’s own observations.

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Updated On : 24th Dec, 2020

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