The 21-day lockdown is taking a toll on more than a quarter of 1.3 billion people of India living below the poverty line. Poor people in India are struggling during the lockdown with no savings and unemployment.
Poor People Struggle
A three-week nationwide lockdown has disproportionately hurt the poor due to lack of food, shelter, and other basic needs. The decision has resulted in thousands of jobless migrant workers stranded with transport services shut in the country. Further, the closed borders of states have resulted in the disruption of the supply of essential commodities and inflation due to fear of shortage. Besides, police taking action against the violators have turned in abuses against the marginalized section.
Informal Sector Workers
With economic activity grinding to halt due to lockdown, millions face indigence and hardships. 80% of the Indian workforce employed in the informal sector are the most at need. The unemployment among daily wage workers has forced them to flee cities and walk to their villages. Besides, thousands have been forced to leave their rented homes as they are unable to pay the rent.
Criticism by the Opposition and Experts
Though the government released an economic relief package for the most vulnerable sections of the society, the opposition party, analysts and citizens continue to criticize with the government’s decision. Rahul Gandhi stated that the government has no contingency plan for the prevailing exodus. Further, he stated that millions of migrant workers running back to their villages will increase the risk for the elderly, resulting in catastrophic loss of life. Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, two of the three noble prize winners in Economics (2019), stated that the government needs to provide more for the needy for successful implementation of the lockdown.
Citing the destitution, PM Modi apologized to the entire nation on a radio address. Further, he stated that though the decision has brought challenges, it was essential to win the battle.
The Indian government is facing challenges to protect the huge population of the country. The poor will be forced to defy the lockdown once they have no resources left to survive. In all, the lockdown will exacerbate the economic woes of the country.