Vivek Jaiswal, 23-year-old, who runs a pan shop in Lucknow, said since March 17, 2020, his shop has been shut due to the coronavirus outbreak. Since then, he is not earning money. He says he has five family members, wherein, only his father and he is earning. However, his father, who is a home guard, has not received his salary for five months.
“Rs. 20,000 is the monthly expenses of my family. We are running out of money now. If the lockdown continues, we will die of hunger, if not by the coronavirus,” said Vivek.
Vivek is not the only one who is facing the financial crisis due to lockdown across the nation (to avoid an increase in the Coronavirus/ COVID-19 cases). But, every daily wage earner is facing the same. They have to save themselves from both- Coronavirus as well as death by hunger.
Ram Kishan, 42-year-old, an electrician from Lucknow, is hopeless from the state government as well as the central government. He said the Indian government is just asking people to stay home, but not doing anything for poor people. When told that the government has announced some money for poor people, he said, “The government has been announcing schemes claiming to help poor people. But, many like us, who deserve, don’t receive them.”
Ram, before the lockdown, was earning about Rs. 300-400 a day. Ram has gone to his native place, Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, by borrowing some money from his neighbour.
Shamsher Ali, 32-year-old, from Mumbai, who is a labourer, was earning Rs. 400-500 a day, if he receives work. He is now running out of money and struggling to put food on the table for his family.
“My contractor had asked me to borrow money from him if I am in need. But, how long will I borrow money? Eventually, I will have to pay him back which is impossible for me. Because, I earn just hand to mouth,” explained Shamsher.
The struggle of homeless people
News media and social media are showing how homeless daily wage earners are stranded as the transport services have hit badly due to lockdown following the coronavirus outbreak. It is also seen that many are walking more than 100 kilometres to reach their native place.
Rajneesh Kumar was on his way to Bareilly. That was about 250 Kilometers from the place he was talking to journalist Barkha Dutt. He said that government should provide the facility for people like them who are stranded. “It will take us about 3-4 days to reach Bareilly by foot. Testing should be done simultaneously so that those who are infected with Coronavirus can be isolated before boarding the bus or train,” Rajneesh said.
At the time of writing, 727 coronavirus (COVID- 19) positive cases and 20 death cases have been reported. To control the number of cases, Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown that came into effect on March 26, 2020, across the nation. Initially, the government did not make any announcement on how poor people of India will survive during the lockdown.
The government could do more for the poor
However, on Thursday, March 26, 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a relief package of Rs 1.70 lakh crore. She said the relief package is aimed at shielding the poor during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
It is observed that the government could do more. Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said while talking to a news channel that the government needs to come out with a package of Rs 5-6 lakh crore for the country’s poor population in this nationwide crisis.
Speaking to India Today TV, P Chidambaram explained that the total expenditure budget of the central government and all the states is about Rs 70-75 lakh crore in 2020-21. Chidambaram said around Rs 5-6 lakh crore can be used from that to help the poor.
The government should use as much money as possible so that India’s poor people will not die of hunger. The Indian government should also ensure that the dedicated money is reaching to deserving people.