Inequality and mental well-being


Shubhangi Nanwatkar

Shubhangi NanwatkarMental Health has never been a national issue in India, it is an issue for those who have got privileged by their caste, gender and class. They do not suffer from discrimination, exploitation, deprivation etc. They give the name of depression for any suffering caused by the loss of their privileges. Mental Depression is an issue that can affect any individual and there should not be bias in the way it is addressed, but it is not, because of inequality.

The low level of mental health care is continuously ignored in India due to many reasons. The people who discriminate, who exploit are the people who have some kind of authority, in the hierarchy who have high status, who have lots of opportunities and resources. Their actions on marginalized people are intended to enslave their minds. 

This historically rooted act of mental pressurisation to make and control the slave mentality gives a deeper understanding of Indian mental health issues. For example, the latest case of Sushant Singh Rajput. He was an intelligent and self-made person at a very young age and in the film industry’s language, he had no godfather to help. He was a talented rising star. But then the suicide of a talented person is a big loss to the industry. On this matter famous actress Kangana Ranaut made some critical comments on authorities of the industry who pressurise young rising talent who don't have inside connections in the industry. She said, she is also suffering from the same authorities' pressurisation to commit suicide and Sushant’s mistake is that he started believing in the negative words from such authorities, allowing them to enslave his mind.  According to Kangana, it was the murder of talent. 

Another example is atrocities that continue even during the Covid-19 situation. These are not suicide cases, but instances of caste mind slavery. Arvind Bansod and Viraj Jagtap are no more alive, they have been murdered by those who think that they are in authority. It's because the caste system does not allow people to intermarry and it excludes. Arvind Bansod was an intellectual Dalit who believed in education for his development but the murderers do not want him to develop and killed him. Similarly, Viraj Jagtap was a student and his mistake was falling in love with a Hindu girl. For this mistake, he has killed by her family. The highest act of irrationality is taking a life for reasons which cannot be a reason at all.

These are cases that result from inequality. During the contemporary issue of Covid-19 lockdown, people were looking forward to taking care of their mental health and were strategizing on how to use their daily energy resources for not being caught by depression. Historical social illness needs annihilation of caste, class and gender strategies to establish equality for better well being. This will happen only by making Babasaheb not as godfather but the Father of equality.   

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Shubhangi Nanwatkar is from Nagpur. She has done her MSW in Dalit and Tribal Studies and Action from Tata Institute of social sciences, Mumbai. She also holds a PG Diploma in Ambedkar thoughts from Mumbai University.