Now It’s Come To Distances
Notes on Coronavirus and Shaheen Bagh, Association and Isolation
In December 2019, Shaheen Bagh became the site of an intense opposition to the newly amended Citizenship Amendment Act. It renewed the ‘communal question’—who is considered a citizen? In March 2020, another shattering event—the coronavirus pandemic. The time of isolation was upon us. These events sparked the need to rethink fundamental questions: What is a constitution? Can social life also be an isolated one? Why were some abandoned to the streets while we remained indoors during the lockdown? Does the ‘new normal’ immunise us to all encounters: politics, love, art?
Through this turbulence, Soumyabrata Choudhury, philosopher and teacher at Jawaharlal Nehru University, was making notes and sharing them with students. Choudhury asks if there can be social distancing in a society to which one does not belong. This diary traces the challenge posed by an incandescent and immortal association like Shaheen Bagh in the face of a dictatorship of mortals that rose with the pandemic.