Social Distancing leading to Emotional Distancing

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Anil Anand
Anil Anand
Anil K Anand is currently the Director Technical, MICROTROL Sterilisation Services Pvt. Ltd. Former  Director Reactor Projects Group BARC. Scientific Consultant, Academy Industry Interaction in the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Govt. He has authored books including The Second Strike, Submarine Propulsion - Muscle Power to Nuclear; Probating the Will and Testament. He can be contacted at [email protected] *views are Personal.

The Prime Minister in his speech, at the time of lockdown, reiterated that he is requesting for social distancing but not emotional distancing.

Unfortunately, this is not a reality. In the family, there has been a tradition of youngers touching the feet of elders and there is a tradition affectionate hug among the family members. Now they talk to one another from a distance like strangers, afraid/suspicious of receiving or passing on the virus and wishing for the conversation to be over soon. This distancing is determinant and will lead to depression and other mental illness, in particular in the older persons who need more social bonding.

In most cases, there has been a bond between the middle-class family members and their domestic helpers who are treated more like family members, eating, gossiping and playing together with children. Now the housing societies have banned the entry of domestic helpers, who stay in separate colonies/slums nearby, afraid that they will bring infection. At the same time, the neighbours of the domestic helpers do not permit them to go for duty as they are afraid of getting the infection from the employers.

The death rate in the country, in 2019 was reported at 7.2/1000; thus there are about 93 lac deaths per year, including the deaths due to poverty, violence, and pollution and due to human and instrument errors which are avoidable. Due to lockdown, the loss of livelihood is causing unrest in the society; hunger will always prevail over the fear of illness. The death rate would go up; there is a higher probability to survive the corona effect than the survival without food.


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