With CORONAVIRUS now spreading rapidly in India, massive consequences to livelihoods are feared, and therefore the government has imposed many days national lockdown to limit coronavirus transmission. Given things where precarious livelihoods of the many Indians, are at stake program responses also are urgently required.
India has taken many actions to limit the spread of COVID-19, ordering a nationwide lockdown for its population of 1.2 billion people. The coronavirus has spread widely in India relatively recently compared to other countries, and therefore the number of reported infections is low thus far, but increasing rapidly, there’s great concern about the disease’s potential spread and impact. India has got to be ready for a possible big surge. Testing should be expanded significantly. The govt views the pattern of the spread of CORONA VIRUS as almost like the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, meaning the spread is unlikely to be uniform in all states. After the initial lockdown period expires, it’s getting to maintain the complete lockdown in “hotspot” areas and relax it in other places.
These control measures may help in limiting the health crisis, but a complete shutdown of all economic activities except essential services are creating a depression and misery for the poor, with massive job losses and rising food insecurity.
The the economic shock will likely be far more severe for India, for 2 reasons. First, the pre-corona virus, the economy was already slowing down, compounding existing problems of unemployment, low incomes, rural distress, malnutrition, and widespread inequality. Second, India’s large informal sector is especially vulnerable. Around 90% (422 million) were informal workers in 2017. Lacking regular salaries or incomes, these agriculture, migrant, and other informal workers are hardest-hit during the lockdown period. About 80% of those migrant workers are men who send their earnings back to their villages to support their families. Reports compiled by aid workers show that quite 50% of the stranded workers during the lockdown were out of food and money, with nearly four of 5 not paid by their employers.
Impact on Agriculture and provide chains
Countless workers in India have walked thousands of miles home after losing their jobs, and therefore the ordeal has made them reluctant to return in future to their current workplace despite India easing restrictions to reboot industrial and agricultural activity.
CORONA VIRUS is disrupting many activities in agriculture and marketing supply chains. Initial media reports show that the non-availability of migrant labor is badly affecting some harvesting activities, particularly in an agricultural state like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, etc. where wheat and pulses are being harvested. There are disruptions in supply chains due to transportation problems. Prices have declined for wheat, vegetables, and some other agricultural crops, yet consumers are often paying more. The closure of market activities including hotels, restaurants, sweet shops, and tea shops during the lockdown has already reduced the sale of milk and milk products considerably. Meanwhile, poultry farmers are badly hit thanks to misinformation, particularly on social media, that chicken and other poultry products are the carriers of coronavirus.
Here are some measures are required to stay for the agricultural sector to stay healthy and provide supply chains working smoothly:
1. Countless workers in India have walked thousands of miles home after losing their jobs, and rented accommodation as they were not able to pay rent. Many dying in accidents along the way, and therefore the ordeal has made them reluctant to a future return to their job place, despite India easing restrictions to reboot industrial and agricultural activity. There is an acute Labour shortage in most states as migrant workers moved to their home state and getting them back is sort of difficult. The government must facilitate for their return and create confidence in them, that their interest will be looked at by the government seriously.
2. Keeping supply chains functioning well is crucial to food security for the poor.
3. Farm populations must be shielded from the coronavirus to the extent possible by free or highly discounted testing and practicing social distancing.
4. Farmers must have continued access to agricultural markets. This will be a a mixture of personal markets and government procurement.
5. Poultry and dairy farmers need more help, as their pandemic-related input supply and market-access problems are urgent. The government must clear some misinformation on social media especially regarding poultry products.
6. Farmers and other agricultural-related workers should be included within the government’s social protection programs addressing the crisis.
7. Home The delivery of agricultural products should be encouraged and promoted.
8. The govt. should promote trade and business by avoiding export bans and import restrictions.
Using Government social security nets as a bridge between health shock and economic shock
The lockdown has choked off most economic activity. In urban areas and rural areas resulting in the widespread loss of jobs and incomes for casual workers and therefore hitting the poor very badly. Estimates by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy show, that unemployment shot up from 9.0% in March 2020 to around 24% in April 2020. The simplest way to address this urgent need is to use social security safety nets extensively to stabilize their lives with food and cash.
The The Indian government has quickly understood the crisis and announced a $22 billion relief package, which incorporates food and cash transfers. Several state governments have announced their own support packages.
The Indian government’s relief package called Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (Prime Minister’s plan for the well-being of the poor), is aimed toward providing safety nets for those hit the toughest by the CORONA VIRUS lockdown. But, it’s not adequate compared to the size of the matter. Below are some additional measures needed additionally to the govt package:
• Food and nutrition security. Government warehouses are overflowing with 71 million plenty of rice and wheat. so as to avoid exclusion errors, it’s better to supply universal coverage of distribution within the next few months.
• Cash transfers. Unemployed informal workers need cash income support. The govt has provided Rs. 500 per month to the bank accounts of 200 million women via financial inclusion program. But this too isn’t sufficient. We’d like to possess a minimum of Rs.4000 per month in cash transfers for the subsequent three months.
• Migrant workers. There are about 50 million seasonal migrant workers in India. In recent days, global media have broadcast images of many thousands of migrant workers from several states trudging for miles and miles on highways; some walked quite 1000 kilometers to return to their home villages. they ought to tend both cash transfers and nutritious food. Migrants are an often invisible group within the population, never factored into urban planning nor included within the city’s population, and infrequently counted for either in their villages. There are ruff calculations estimates on their population but no official statistics, with no central registry of migrant workers despite passing legislation more than 40 years ago to determine such a database.
CORONA VIRUS is an unprecedented challenge for India; its large population and therefore the economy’s dependence on informal labor makes lockdowns hugely disruptive. The central and state governments have recognized the challenge and responded aggressively—but this response should be just the start. The government of India must be prepared to scale it up as coronavirus epidemic unfold, easing the economic impacts through even greater public program support and policies that keep markets functioning.