The lockdown in India will have both advantages and downsides. On the one hand, the health system will be better prepared, but on the other, there will be many jobless and destitute. Urban informal sector workers, largely consisting of male migrants, are the most vulnerable and the most difficult to reach through social security programmes. Social distancing has Necessitated Dramatic changes in the world of work-a shift of workplaces into virtual mode.
As the Indian economy reels under the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown the most to suffer if they are unorganized sector smaller businesses. Majority of India’s working force around 90% works in the informal sector. A workforce that largely relies on daily wages they are the ones that are going to be hit the most space the Prime Minister did mention that the government is ensuring that the poor do not face any difficulties but no specific measure was announced. Probably this is going to be worse than even the demonetization which we had in November 2016 because they the cubs were on currency but there the cubs are in movement you can’t move you cannot earn doing nothing. By far the most vulnerable section of the workplace during the lockdown are those in the informal sector who are mostly unskilled, low paid with no or at fuzzy employment contracts, employed in the precarious work environments, and lacking any form of Social security or welfare safety. They are spread across sectors like construction, manufacturing (in factories, workshops and even homes) domestic work, Street vending, waste pickers and recycling, sanitation, restaurants, food delivery and allied services and all form of transport. They are usually paid by the day with daily rates ranging from rupees400 to rupees1000. This does not offer much scope of saving; in fact many informal employees do not even have proper bank account in which they can store their savings. COVID-19 has resulted in a combination of demand destruction, supply disruption and a pandemic shock that has resulted in a countrywide lockdown situation. The informal workers were already facing problems with low wages and income in the pre-period Because of economic slowdown. Daily wage labourers and informal labourers are the worst hit during the lockdown and will continue to be adversely affected even after the lock down is relaxed. The survival of the informal sector will become questionable with every passing day. A subset of this informal sector is the interstate migrant labourers, who have been badly bruised by the lockdown.
90% of the jobs are in the informal sector and they would be hurt the most and the worst part is that we will not know how much worst would they be because we do not typically map them so well formal sectors are mapped better than the informal sector so that is the lot of people who will face the most hardship be it in terms of losing jobs having their salaries court or in terms of being pushed down the poverty line so those are the kind of challenges that will be facing now. Workers in the unorganized sector are facing problems for the past few days due to the lockdown is already in place in several states and districts.
Most of them, who are employed as workers in building roads, factory production and in the services sector are now out of work as the businesses and establishments have been shut down. In the absence of money, jobs and any savings or shelter in large city‘s they are desperate to go back to the villages to be with their families. But this is not happening because many of the borders have been sealed. . Thousands of migrant workers scrambled to return from city’s today homes in states like Jharkhand Bihar Kerala and West Bengal many were stuck in the process due to the unprecedented shut down of rail and interstate bus services. The closure of workplaces and avenues of employment, the lack of clear and positive assurances from the political leadership only exacerbated these workers’ anxieties, and compelled them to make the long walk home, from the cities to the hinterland.
It ensured that the workers with their belongings and family members had to traverse long journeys by foot without food or proper drinking water. There is an urgent need to address their problems and their need for food, shelter, and security-related issues need to be taken care of. One of the best ways to take care of the worst-hit migrant workers is to use the network of panchayat bhavans, government colleges and schools, railway stations, bus stations, community halls, etc to set up feeding centers to arrange free cooked food, medical care and sanitation. The first priority is to ensure that people don’t starve or are deprived of basic necessities for survival due to job losses and a complete lockdown in economic activities. After the lockdown, an orderly return of migrant workers to their respective workplaces must be arranged. India’s challenges owing to its large informal sector are daunting. The sheer number of people whose livelihoods are suddenly snatched away from them is huge. Economists have suggested that this is the time to use the JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) trinity and make immediate transfers to people who live hand-to-mouth. Direct transfers have already been announced by state governments such as UP, Punjab and Kerala. The decision by the central government to give wheat and rice at subsidized prices is another step. All governments need to act immediately so that the pain faced by daily wage workers, particularly in urban areas where they are most hit, is minimized. Since they are the ones who will be hurt immediately by the lockdown, they have to be supported first.
This is an ideal opportunity for the Indian state to raise its capacities to provide goods and services for the citizens who need them most. Rather than continue to ignore the problem of informal labour or simply pretend it does not exist, the time has clearly now come for the state to don the role of a provider rather than just act as an enforcer.
Written By – Vani Prashar