How the Covid 19 Outbreak Can Become a Catalyst for Class Conflict and Social Unrest

Will the Covid 19 Outbreak Lead to Class Conflict and Civil Unrest

The Covid 19 Outbreak that is sweeping across the world causing entire nations to shut down and bringing economic activity and consequently, economies to a halt can also become a harbinger or a catalyst for class conflict and social unrest.

Already, there are many who think that the Covid 19 outbreak happened due to the Rich jet-setting around the world and spreading it in their native countries.

Further, there are others, especially in the conspiracy theory subscribers that the Covid 19 Outbreak is aimed at wiping of the poor from the world. Leaving aside conspiracy theories, there are fact and data points that clearly show how the Covid 19 Outbreak affects the underprivileged than the Middle Class or the Rich.

For instance, the shutting down and locking down of entire countries means that those who live from Pay check to Pay Check find themselves without an income and more importantly, the livelihood that sustains them.

Indeed, for daily wagers and freelancers and other Gig workers, the Covid 19 Outbreak is the Last Straw that broke them. Therefore, this can become a source for class conflict.

How Work from Home and Homeschooling Work for the Privileged and Not the Poor

In addition, take a look at how the WFH (Work from Home) and Digital Learning and Homeschooling impact different sections of society.

While those kids with a stable Internet connection and reliable power supply can seamlessly transition from classroom learning to Digital Learning, those without such facilities can fall behind in the competitive educational sphere.

Moreover, Remote Learning needs the active cooperation and support of parents who are themselves well qualified for them to Handhold their kids.

For those kids who have internet but whose parents cannot guide them in their learning tasks, the acquisition of knowledge and skills takes a backseat.

Apart from this, there are many kids in developing countries such as India who attend school mainly because they are served Midday Meals.

Indeed, the incentive of food is what makes parents send their children to school and not to make them dropout.

In the absence of such facilities due to the lockdown, it is anybody’s guess as to how underprivileged kids can cope and whether they would resume education or would simply wither away.

The situation is same for those professionals who can afford WFH and the others who do not have such facilities invariably fall back.

How Governments Worldwide are Using Force Instead of Facilitating Collective Response

While the above two sections describe how the Covid 19 Outbreak would impact the poor more than the rich, there is another dimension that is emerging from the governmental response.

Before we discuss that, it is pertinent to note that these examples are one of many such countless instances that can cause class conflict and social unrest.

Governments worldwide, instead of helping the poor are making it harder for them to survive.

While the various stimulus packages that have been announced for combating the economic effects of Covid 19 make mention of the poor in their measures, the reality is that there are more sops for the wealthy and the big businesses rather than the person on the street.

Moreover, governments worldwide are bailing out corporations while throwing peanuts to the poor.

This has been described as Socialism for the Rich and Capitalism for the Poor. Indeed, if the haunting images from the Journey by Foot of Hundreds of Thousands of Migrant Workers in India are anything to go by, it is certain that sooner or later, we would see class conflict and social unrest.

Therefore, the onus is on all stakeholders to ensure that benefits reach everyone and anyone.

Covid 19 Outbreak Tests the Resilience and Capabilities of Institutions and Nations

It is often said in recent days that the Covid 19 Outbreak would test the capabilities of the governments and the institutions as well as the Healthcare system in countries in addition to the social capital.

In other words, the capacity of these aspects to absorb the shock from Covid 19 is what ensures whether nations can emerge successful from this challenge.

Many countries fail on this count including India and hence, one can say that we have to keep our fingers crossed as to whether this would lead to collapse.

Indeed, it is certain that the governments know this and this might be the reason why they are enforcing the lockdown with force rather than facilitating the means by which collective action happens.

On the other hand, the challenge from Covid 19 is such that there has to be measures to control the contagion.

Thus, the present trying times are testing the capacities and capabilities of nations worldwide.

What are needed now are coordinated global response and bipartisan domestic response as well as more cooperation between the Centre and the States.

Sadly, this does not seem to be the case and hence, social conflict and civil unrest seem inevitable.


Last, the present crisis has also brought about the best in human nature as can be seen from the spontaneous outpouring of help and support to the stranded migrant workers as well as those whose livelihoods have been affected.

It seems like that people are stepping in where the governments have failed or relinquished their responsibilities.

The next step would be to force the governments to act and help those at the Bottom.

To conclude, if we continue in the same direction as we are now, the consequences would be severe and unpredictable and disastrous as well as conflict ridden.

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