Overlooked—India’s overworked and underpaid crematorium workers, who often face caste-based discrimination as Dalits, are the invisible warriors of India’s #COVID19 crisis. The poorly paid & underappreciated undertakers in the overflowing crematoriums.🧵
2) The Dalit community is considered the lowest in the Hindu caste system, which is over 3,000 years old and divides Hindus into rigid hierarchical groups dictating their standing in Indian society.
3) They work 12-hour shifts, earning only Rs 10,000 ($134) a month, and can easily be spotted in crematoriums: unlike the families of the deceased, they rarely wear personal protective gear (PPE).
4) “I don’t feel anything when I see a dead body,” the crematorium worker said. “Maybe I don’t want to feel anything. I drink two bottles of beer every day before coming to work.”
5) Dipanshu Rathore, a rights activist at the Asia Dalit Rights Forum, explained that it is common to see sons of cremation workers follow in their fathers’ footsteps because few jobs are available to the underprivileged Dalit community.
6) “Who will do all the dirty and dangerous work? It’s the Dalits. People don’t want to get their hands dirty, so they call Dalits to do their dirty job for them,” Rathore told VICE World News.
7) The COVID-19 crisis has created a unique space for India’s Dalit cremators. During Hindi cremation burial ceremonies, the prayers are almost always read by upper-caste Brahmins.

8) Asked if he is Brahmin, Rai laughed and said, “Of course not, but in these times, we are all Brahmins.”

“Almost everyone asks about my caste because everyone wants a Brahmin to do the rituals and not the Dalits, but they aren’t available,” he said. “We are.”
9) Rathore said that cremators are often discriminated against by other Dalit communities. “People don’t shake their hands or offer them water because they think the cremators might bring them bad luck.”
10)“No one knows how many cremation workers have tested positive for this deadly disease and no one knows how many have died as a result. It is because government officials don’t see the cremation workers and sanitation workers as human.” 😢
11) But the job of a cremation worker is more than just cremating dead bodies. In Delhi’s largest crematorium, so many were seen counselling grieving families too.
12) During the cremation rituals of his brother, Himanshu was scared. Rai held Himanshu’s hand and whispered consoling words into his ear as they both lit the pyre that held his brother’s body.
13) “I told him that his brother’s soul is trapped in the body and we have to free him. If we don’t light the body, he won’t be able to go to god and will be trapped in this place forever,” Rai said.
14) As Rai completed the cremation, he asked the family to follow him for remaining paperwork. He knew the distressed family needed help to navigate the crematorium’s procedures. “Many people who come here are illiterate and it is very difficult for them to fill all the forms…
15) “…In such cases, I myself fill up their forms and complete the complicated cremation procedures,” Rai said.

When Rai was done, he went down to the river to smoke but was soon called back up to the crematorium. Eight more bodies had arrived. vice.com/amp/en/article…
16) "Dalits are not allowed to drink from same wells, attend same temples, wear shoes in the presence of an upper caste, or drink from the same cups in tea stalls," said Smita Narula, author of Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's "Untouchables."
17) my god, these headlines on human rights abuses against Dalits are insane and unbearable…
18) So much suffering in India. Besides caste, poverty and lack of societal resources in India is a major driving factor to the suffering from #CovidIndia too. Oxygen just tip of the iceberg.
19) People ask me - “Why do you care so much about the Dalits”?

Because I care about giving voice to the voiceless.

And because, in 1890-1928 in Shanghai, my birth city, there was once a park sign that read “No dogs and no Chinese allowed”. Stings.

20) While we are here, let’s help our friends and family in India…

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Eric Feigl-Ding

Eric Feigl-Ding Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @DrEricDing

3 May
⚠️DON’T BE DUPED—schools often buying junk air purifiers instead of proven HEPA filters. Avoid ionization, plasma and dry hydrogen peroxide—that the Lancet #COVID19 Commission recently deemed “often unproven” & potential sources of pollution themselves. 🧵
khn.org/news/article/a… Image
2) Schools have been “bombarded with persistent salespersons peddling the latest air and cleaning technologies, including those with minimal evidence to-date supporting safety and efficacy” according to a report released Thursday by the Center for Green Schools and ASHRAE.
3) In the frenzy, schools are buying technology that air-quality experts warn can lull them into a false sense of security or even potentially harm kids. And schools often overlook that trusted contractors — engineering, HVAC/consulting firms — stand to earn big money from deals
Read 26 tweets
3 May
WHERE ARE THE AID? Despite 25 🌏flights loaded with 300 tonnes of emergency #COVID19 relief supplies landing in Delhi 🇮🇳 (5500 oxygen concentrators, 3200 O2 cylinders, & remdesivir) in 5 days, no domestic flights have transported them. Hospitals waiting.🧵amp.scroll.in/article/993973… Image
2) “The emergency aid could save lives. But it seems not to have reached even those who are gasping for oxygen a few km away.
“As far as I know, we have not received anything so far,” said Dr Nutan Mundeja, Director General of Health Services, Delhi government.”
3) “No domestic flights have taken off to carry the supplies to other parts of India, nor have states been informed about their share by the Centre.” Like this one…
Read 22 tweets
3 May
Sobering—“It is already clear that the virus is changing too quickly, new variants are spreading too easily & vaccination is proceeding too slowly for herd immunity to be within reach anytime soon.”

➡️ Vaccine hesitancy hurts public health.🧵 #COVID19
2) I don’t like this— “daily vaccination rates are slipping, and there is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold is not attainable — at least not in the foreseeable future, and perhaps not ever.”
3) “rather than making a long-promised exit, the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in US for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers.”

➡️I don’t like waving this surrender flag.
Read 20 tweets
3 May
Let this sink in—

Feds indicted a Florida man for fraudulently marketing & selling “Miracle Mineral Solution,” a toxic industrial bleach, as a cure for #COVID19.

Meanwhile, exactly 1 year earlier—another Florida voter kinda peddled the same thing on TV—but wasn’t indicted. Yet. ImageImage
2) “Trump took to the WH briefing room and encouraged his top health officials to study the injection of bleach into the human body as a means of fighting Covid. It was a watershed moment, soon to become iconic in the annals of presidential briefings.”
3) “federal grand jury in Miami has returned an indictment charging a Florida family with fraudulently marketing and selling “Miracle Mineral Solution,” a toxic industrial bleach, as a cure for COVID-19, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, autism, malaria…

Read 4 tweets
3 May
Eyes wide shut—this ICU patient with #COVID19 has “barotrauma” from his lungs leaking air into his body. Dr @WesElyMD says patient is *awake* but eyes are swollen shut—AIR from inside his chest leaking out his lungs🫁 through muscles & skin to neck & into face.

➡️Vaccinated yet?
3) And it’s not just ICUs or deaths… #LongCovid has much broader and longer impacts… read this thread 🧵…
Read 4 tweets
2 May
India PM Narendra Modi's #COVID19 task force didn’t meet for months. His health minister @drharshvardhan assured the public that 🇮🇳 pandemic had reached the “endgame.”

Now, a 2nd wave has made India the worst-hit country in the world. Shortages abound. 🧵
2) Overconfidence and missteps contributed to the country’s devastating second wave, his critics say, tarnishing the prime minister’s aura of political invulnerability.
3) @narendramodi boasted to global leaders that his nation had triumphed over the coronavirus. India “saved humanity from a big disaster by containing corona effectively,” Mr. Modi told a virtual gathering at the @wef in late January.
Read 5 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!