Skip to main content

Coronavirus Pandemic: Hungry, desperate: India virus controls trap its migrant workers

Like many of us under lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, Pramod Sahu has been spending plenty of your time on his phone to loved ones far. But the 36-year-old laid-off textile worker in Surat, in India's western Gujarat state, is fast running out of cash, food and options.

"I'm wont to working 12 hours each day, but now i've got nothing to try to to but sit here, stare at this screen and worry," he told Al Jazeera. "We're trying to form one person's food feed four, but right away I feel we are going to soon die of hunger," he said by phone from a cramped room he shares with eight other men.

Sahu is one among an estimated 100 million internal migrants in India. Travelling long distances from remote villages seeking add India's bustling cities to support families they typically leave behind, they form a vital lifeline for the economic wellbeing of many millions more,

According to the Indian government's 2016-17 Economic Survey, internal migrants compose about 20 percent of the workforce. and that they contribute an estimated 10 percent of India's economic output, per the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

But, without formal work contracts, they're susceptible to exploitation and abuse. Many earn little quite a subsistence wage and haven't any social insurance to shield their incomes if they lose their jobs.

A growing number of aid agencies that help to support internal migrants fear the government's response to the coronavirus - which since March 24 has involved the closure of companies and other public spaces - may cause a humanitarian and economic disaster far larger than the medical emergency the measures are meant to regulate.

And economists say the government's recent economic stimulus measures don't seem to be nearly enough to mitigate the consequences of the lockdown, especially for India's poor, including its internal migrants.

The lockdown has forced thousands of individuals like Sahu out onto urban streets. With most transport links finish off, many are trying to steer the many kilometres back to their rural homes to outride the crisis with their families.

Many of India's internal migrants travel from poorer states like Bihar and state within the north to figure within the industrial hubs of more developed states like Gujarat and Maharashtra within the south. Most do the low-paid or dangerous jobs that wealthier Indians refuse to try to to.

'Enormous' contribution to India's economy
"Their contribution to the economy is big," Jayati Ghosh, an economist at solon University (JNU) in Delhi, told Al Jazeera. "But we do not actually know to what extent industries like construction and manufacturing comprise these workers".

Accurate data is difficult to return by thanks to the group's high mobility and exclusion from official surveys.

But what's clear is that the money these workers send house is a key source of income for those they need left behind. In Odisha, for instance, Sahu's home state, domestic remittances form 55-60 percent of annual incomes, per a study by the Centre of Labour and Migration Studies.

The loss of this income threatens to worsen already precarious rural livelihoods, Nivedita Jayaram, a researcher at Aajeevika Bureau, a labour research and legal organization, told Al Jazeera.

"Just like within the cities, all work has stopped and other people already can't afford to shop for groceries, so there's a high risk of rural impoverishment increasing without these remittances," Jayaram said.

Though India currently has approximately 1,700 active coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the lockdown's extreme measures as "absolutely necessary" in an exceedingly radio address on Sunday, and asked for "forgiveness" for the hardships inflicted on his "poor countrymen".

But effectively halting the assembly of all goods and services, except some essential items, and enforcing a strict lockdown that keeps people indoors, and plenty of out of labor, comes at a high price for an already sluggish economy.

Growth in gross domestic product - the sum of all finished goods and services produced in an exceedingly country - is currently at a six year-low, while India's percentage is already at 7.8 percent, its highest since October 2019 per the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE).

"The lockdown isn't just an attack on demand, but an attack on supply too, which could be a problem for an economy in freefall," says JNU's Ghosh. "I fear that so as to stop a catastrophe, they need created one."

While some analysts draw parallels to the economic disruption wrought by demonetisation in 2016 - when 80 percent of India's currency was taken out of circulation overnight - the long-term effects of the lockdown are already looking much worse, says Ghosh.

"The events are similar within the sense that policymakers now seem even as unprepared for the implications as they were long ago, and again the poorest are suffering - but a minimum of during demonetisation not every a part of the economy came to a grinding halt".

A political 'blindspot'
Though India's migrant labourers are significant in number, this group could be a political "blindspot", Reetika Khera, an economist at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, told Al Jazeera.

"We should be fixing community kitchens and converting schools into welfare centres, but sadly our policymakers seem to be watching out more for the center and upper classes," she said. "They clearly didn't anticipate any of this, and now everything appears like an afterthought".

The central government in national capital had asked regional states to stop a migrant exodus by providing food and shelter, but deficient time was given to implement this before the lockdown was imposed, "turning a public health crisis into a bigger humanitarian one", says Aajeevika Bureau's Jayaram.

"While we warned overseas Indians prior to and chartered flights to bring them back home, we've left our internal migrants to support themselves," she said.

Under pressure to deal with the growing emergency, the central government last week announced a $23bn welfare scheme for the poor. This included doubling the quantity of free food rations under an existing national programme, $10 to do senior citizens, and raising wages by $0.27 per day for those working under the government's rural employment scheme.

But analysts warn that this outlay of but 1 percent of GDP, isn't enough to stem the crisis and is generally a "repackaging" of existing schemes.

"The increase to the [rural employment scheme] was notified a pair days before, so it isn't new - and anyway worksites are currently shut," notes the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad's Khera.

"There was an urgent must ensure this vulnerable population was given economic protection, but there's really nothing here for the landless, daily wagers and migrant workers".

Sahu, whose rural house is some 1,500 kilometres (932 miles) from where he has been working, says many workers in cities are unable to access food via the government's Public Distribution Service since all their identity documents show their out-of-state address.

"I have a identity card, but it's registered to the village, and no use here," Sahu said.

Enough to travel around?
Ironically, India currently encompasses a huge stock of excess grain which may well be wont to feed those struggling to urge by, says Khera.

"In a way, this is often a superbly matching crisis for the government's current problem of the way to store this year's bumper winter crop".

State governments could also simply remove the requirement for a identity card, and just distribute food packets to everyone, she added.

Many countries have used cash transfers to support falling incomes during the pandemic. Though India followed suit by announcing an additional $20 contact three months paid directly into Jan Dhan bank accounts - free accounts provided under the central government's financial inclusion programme - the quantity is little, worth only approximately three days of wages for an inner-city artificer.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the relief package was designed "to reach resolute those that are most requiring of such measures ... the poorest of the poor". At the launch of the rescue package last month, she also said: "We don't want anyone to stay hungry."

But economists say it falls short in light of the severity of things.

"I'm unsure how an amount like this might be seen as viable within the quite crisis we're in," says JNU's Ghosh. "If we are pruning incomes for a month or probably longer, the amounts provided should reflect that". The cash transfers mustn't just be to Jan Dhan accounts either, she added, since many migrants are unlikely to be covered by those.

With just 300 rupees ($4) left within the bank and another period of lockdown stretching earlier than him, Sahu is similarly reflecting on how decisions that affect millions like him are made. "Why couldn't the govt. just give us advance warning? We could have bought more food and made plans for the way to urge through this," he said.

"They may have saved some lives with this coronavirus lockdown, but they didn't give some thought to us".


Popular Posts

Bobrisky and his lover in bed in a hotel room enjoying themselves (Watch Video)

  Nigerian Barbie doll, Bobrisky took to Snapchat to share a video of himself and his lover in bed at a hotel.   READ ALSO:  Man arrested for having s*x with chickens and his own dog, resulting in the death of 15 chickens READ ALSO:  White man Beaten up Mercilessly by a Black man after calling him a Monkey (Watch Video) READ ALSO:  Argentina legend Diego Maradona dies at age 60 READ ALSO:   Acting DG of NABDA arrested over alleged N400m fraud READ ALSO:  White man Beaten up Mercilessly by a Black man after calling him a Monkey (Watch Video) In the video, the man refused to reveal his face as the cross-dresser tried to introduce him to his fans on Snapchat.  WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW View this post on Instagram A post shared by Elizabethblog (@elizabethblogng)

A real Ghost Caught on Camera in an Abandoned Hospital

A Ghost was seen to have appeared in an Abandoned mental hospital as Urban Explorers sight this on Camera. According to the two explorers, Jamie Osborne and Michael Cosgrove stated that they both went to Rosslynlee Hospital which was abandoned in Scotland near Roslin in Midlothian as they went to explore. READ ALSO:  A Man arrested and Jailed for 21 months after throwing eggs at police station Rooms inside the eerie derelict mental health facility had remained untouched for over a decade when it closed its doors. They had been taking it in turns to pose in a wheelchair that had been left in one of the hospital's rooms when they checked one image which appeared to capture a woman wearing a white gown "reaching over" Michael. READ ALSO:  Teacher In Trouble after Flogging a Student to death Over a Mathematics Question Jamie, from Edinburgh, described how the "air turned cold" when they entered the spooky facility and that they could see their breat

White man Beaten up Mercilessly by a Black man after calling him a Monkey (Watch Video)

A white man was beaten by a black man after calling him a Monkey. It was recorded that this Inicident happened in South Africa. The white man was beaten without mercy by a petrol attendant last night for the racist attack. READ ALSO:  A thief set ablaze in Delta for snatching phone with toy gun (Pictures) READ ALSO:  Bride-To-Be Kidnapped Just Three Weeks To Her Wedding In Jigawa state, Nigeria He was being attacked by the fuel attendant and his colleagues. And he even tried to fight back at a point but was overpowered by the fuel attendants who used a stick and a whip on him for allegedly calling one of them a ‘Monkey.’ WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW View this post on Instagram A post shared by Lindaikejiblog (@lindaikejiblogofficial)

Lady cries out in pain after her boyfriend penetrated in the wrong hole (Watch Video)

An African lady  cried uncontrollably after her boyfriend allegedly penetrated the wrong hole during a bedroom fun. In a Tiktok video which went Viral on social medias, A lady was seen in the video as she was in a great pain fanning her private part which a book as she was heard saying her boyfriend penetrated in the wrong hole. READ MORE: Man wrestles with an alligator as he saves his puppy (Watch video) The Video was posted on Instagram. Watch Video below View this post on Instagram A post shared by HYPED YOUTHS FAN PAGE (@hypedyouths)

"Your mama ain't leaving any time soon" Bobrisky warns "upcoming wannabe Bobriskys" that they can't take his "throne"

Nigerian Barbie doll, Bobrisky warned all upcoming wanna be Bobriskys that who are hoping to come for his throne must work hard. He also warned all those who wants him to be out of his throne that he has no plans of giving up. He wrote: "No one sit on her throne. All dis upcoming wanna be Bobrisky be ready to work extremely hard to sit on dis throne cos ur mama ain’t leaving anytime soon. Still leading as no ONE in Africa." SEE HIS INSTAGRAM POSTS BELOW

Wizard returning from coven mistakenly lands on roof top in Delta state (Watch video)

According to the reports, A young man has been allegedly accused of being a wizard as he Crashed on a Roof top Building at the Okpokpor street in Okpara-Inland in Ethiope-East local government area of Delta State in the afternoon on Saturday November 28. READ MORE:  Child rapist Fainted after being lashed 146 times with cane in Indonesia The man who was holding a hundred naira note in his hand, was identified as Omamuyovwi. He is said to be a commercial motor cycle operator who is well known in the community and married with two kids. It was also gathered that he was beaten with plantain Leaves and also almost set ablazed by was saved by the community Vigilante. READ ALSO:  "Call me evil names, idolator, juju worshipper, God is the final judge of all our actions" - Nigerian man says publicly as he denounced Christianity Eyewitnesses disclosed that Omamuyovwi was taken to his family compound at Igberhe street by the vigilante, where he reportedly confessed t

Nigerian Soldiers assault lady because she refused to greet them (Watch Video)

On Wednesday, November 25, A lady who is Identified as Olaide Oluwo has reposted on social media to demand Justice after she was beaten by Nigerian Army Personnel in Sangotedo, Lagos for not greeting them. READ ALSO:  White man Beaten up Mercilessly by a Black man after calling him a Monkey (Watch Video) According to a video shared online, Olaide said she was assaulted by the military personnel because she did not greet them READ HER STATEMENT BELOW ”This happened to me around 5pm. I did nothing to these people ..I didn’t even look at them until one of them flogged me ! I was walking and this guy insulted me ran after me and then flogged me with koboko! When people confronted them they said it’s cuz I didn’t greet them”   WATCH VIDEO BELOW — Luu ❤🕊 (@Lucy_Anaaa) November 25, 2020