Rangaraj Pandey promotes untouchability & spread lies.

In an absurd comparison, Rangaraj equated caste untouchability to social distancing norms followed during Covid pandemic.

Recently, Kumbakonam Saraswathi Gana Sabha celebrated its 12th annual day function which was held at the Kumbakonam Municipality Marriage Hall on 9th April 2023. Rangaraj Pandey attended the event and gave a talk where he equated social distancing protocol in Covid times to that of the caste untouchability. He said, “discipline of old times is today’s Covid protocol”. This statement had been severely criticized and condemned in social media.


Although discrimination exists all over the world in some form or the other, Untouchability is a unique form legitimised practices that are discriminatory, humiliating, exclusionary and exploitative against people belonging to certain castes. Based on castes, there have been several inhuman practices such as preventing/restricting access to education, employment, temples, or even basic sanitation. There were times when people belonging to certain castes were not even allowed to access to public lakes, ponds and they were even stopped from walking in public streets. In an extreme form of untouchability, some castes were deemed to be unseeable, as well.

These are not some folklores about some ancient practices that may or may not have existed in the archaic past. Untouchability and caste atrocities are a reality, even to this day, despite laws abolishing untouchability and caste discrimination. Even now, Dalits are assaulted and killed for entering temples, for entering private properties, for marrying “upper caste” girl, for touching water pot etc. Apart from all the caste atrocities that Dalits face during their lifetime, the discrimination against Dalits continues even after their death as they are denied access to public crematoriums/burial grounds. In some extreme cases, the bodies too are not allowed to be taken in public roads. Some of other caste atrocities can be seen here, here, here and here.

Caste Untouchability & Social Distancing same?

In the 11th minute of Rangaraj Pandey’s talk, he claims that the Covid protocol that is being talked about is actually an Indian protocol. He claims that the social distancing norms followed during the peak of Covid is the same as the ancient practices as it was meant for hygiene. He alleges that the practices were criticized using words like “theetu (impurity), paavam (sin), aacharam (discipline)” to determine it as untouchability. He questions if social distancing norms are a form of untouchability as it prescribed 6-feet distance to be kept between people during the peak Covid times. He then goes on to claim that the age-old casteist practices to be scientific & hygienic. Rangaraj Pandey also laments that those practices were not taught using physical force.


But this logic is flawed, at best. An absurd equation of untouchability to social distancing is not just technically wrong, but it is extremely malicious & venomous. The spread of the coronavirus, Covid-19, was a declared a pandemic and health emergency and in the initial days of the pandemic, nobody knew how the virus spread and how to contain the spread. So, the social distancing norms were implemented as it proved very effective. After the advent of vaccines and further understanding of the virus, the strict norms were relaxed bit by bit, to almost non-existent today. There is no mask mandate or social distancing norms that need to be followed today.

The precautionary measures during the peak of Covid and the discriminatory practices of casteism should not even be given the same parlance. Rangaraj Pandey tries to assert that the practice of untouchability was done due to scientific reasons, by hiding the centuries of oppression faced by marginalized communities. Despite his claims, there is enough evidence to prove that untouchability was a result of centuries of oppression by caste and it was not based on health reasons, as he conveniently misdirects. Many verses in the ancient scripture Manusmriti have been criticized to be promoting caste discrimination and untouchability. Some of these can be seen here, here, and here.

Fact-checking Rangaraj’s lies:

In the same talk, Rangaraj claimed that Tamil Nadu has the highest number of women in jail. But this is factually incorrect. According to a report from the NCRB, Tamil Nadu has 742 female inmates in the state which is only the 10th in the country with Uttar Pradesh leading the list. Here’s a chart showing the top 10 states in terms of the number of women prisoners.


Earlier in 2023, Rangaraj Pandey claimed that no Brahmin has ever been convicted any crimes of murder or violence. But YouTurn had fact-checked that claim and refuted them with evidence. Even some of the convicted rapists in the Bilkis Bano case were Brahmins and upon their remission, a BJP MLA claimed that they were Brahmins with good sanskaar. Nathuram Godse, the murderer of Mahatma Gandhi, was a Brahmin too.

Earlier in 2021, Rangaraj Pandey claimed that the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) reservation is not just for the upper castes, but open for all categories of people. YouTurn had fact-checked it and had written an article earlier.

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Ramasamy Jayaprakash

Ramasamy works as a Senior Sub-Editor at YouTurn and writes articles in Tamil and English. He also makes videos for YouTurn's Tamil & English YouTube channels.
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