Skip to main content

CityMakers 'locked out': India's 80% casual, 60% salaried workers out of job: Survey

By Our Representative
Findings of a telephonic-survey by interviewing 3,121 households across 50 plus cities of the country from May 7 to May 17, 2020 by scholars of the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), Delhi, have suggested that eight out of 10 casual daily wage labourers and six out of 10 salaried workers reported unemployed or loss employment during lockdown due to closure of business/construction activities and inability to visit their workplaces.
Results of the survey were discussed at a webinar on May 27, 2020, in which over 500 people, including scholars from reputed international institutions, participated.
The study found that six out of 10 respondents said they were unaware that congestion was a major constraint in ensuring social distancing and hygiene practices during the lockdown and pandemic period. More than 50% of the respondents were worried about earning a livelihood and losing work and were anxious about how they would feed their families and themselves.
The study revealed that six out of 10 respondents demanded free ration after the lockdown ends, while eight out 10 respondents suggested that they would resume work after the lockdown ends, stating the current livelihood loss was a temporary phenomenon. But they agreed, much would depend to a large extent how the government, business and people responded.
Most respondents stated that the coverage of different government schemes was far from being universal and that lack of awareness and eligibility were two major impediments. Many respondents reported that they were not eligible for the programmes introduced by the government.
The study suggested key policy takeaways such need for local periodic data for pandemic preparedness and response; a new urban agenda focusing on dynamic urban planning processes and empowering the city governments; an urban job assurance programme as a longer-term policy option to address the looming economic crisis; and to plug gaps and expand public assistance programmes focusing on the rights of the CityMakers.
Speaking on the occasion, Wendy Olsen (University of Manchester, UK) said, we need an extremely localised solution for catering to the needs of the CityMakers who comprise over 140 million citizens. According to her, the need for free ration, advance wages and assured food supply for each were essential to alleviate the sufferings of the people. Insisting “a true political will”, she stressed on health insurance, basic amenities and coordination between local governments, adding, urban local bodies should be strengthened with requisite funds and local capacity.
Sandeep Chachra (Action Aid) said that while providing immediate solutions the long outstanding call of informal workers, decent wages and workers’ rights should not be diluted, especially because these rights were gained following years of labour struggles. He asserted, labour laws cannot go to abeyance, neither should one undermined social security and protection.
Prof Ruth Steiner (University of Florida, USA) said, “A large section of Indian population is usually ignored from the policy challenges when a nation is shutdown. How do we take note of the way they meet their basic amenities. We need to understand the importance of public transport to access goods and services, draw lessons for the future”. 
Eight out 10 respondents said they would resume work after the lockdown ends, that the current livelihood loss was temporary
IMPRI senior faculty Dr Arjun Kumar said, “Government programmes like the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana are being harnessed to provide intermittent relief to the poor. However, per person allocation of monetary support is very low, and for schemes like 'Thalinomics’ (for ensuring a balanced diet) to succeed, assured assistance of around Rs 2,000 is needed. It is expected from the government to act as the guardian and ensure that welfare schemes become accessible for all.”
IMPRI scholars Dr Balwant Singh Mehta and Dr Simi Mehta, the study coordinators, said, “The study findings show that urban informal worker was mainly engaged in low paid casual daily wage work and self-employment activities such as street vendors, and only a few involved in salaried jobs. Therefore, the lockdown has a huge impact on their livelihood as six out of 10 workers have lost their livelihood.”
However, they noted, “The most interesting part is over three-fourths of them reported that they will resume the work once the lockdown will be lifted. The study clearly demonstrates that prolonged lockdown has badly disrupted the livelihood of urban informal workers. Therefore, in case of any such adversity in future, adequate measures need to be kept handy.”
The two scholars added, “Relief measures must be provided on a war footing keeping in mind the prevailing realities and understanding how stressful the situation becomes for all, especially the lives and livelihood of the CityMakers.”
Assistant coordinators and senior researchers Anshula Mehta and Ritika Gupta (IMPRI) remarked that the study reflects “unprecedented sufferings, anxieties and perceptions of the CityMakers during Covid-19 and lockdown in a candid manner. It reveals ground-level stories and realities not captured in any other survey. The study presents ample scope for taking corrective measures through evidence-based governance in both short and the long term.”
Other major participants in the webinar included well-known scholars like Prof Chris Silver and Dr Abhinav Alakshendram (University of Florida, USA), and IMPRI faculty Dr Soumyadip Chattopadhay and Visva Bharati.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.

Agricultural reform? Small farmers will be more vulnerable, corporates to 'fix' price

By Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
Agriculture employs 42% of the total work force whereas it contributes only 16% to the country’s GDP. The average annual growth rate in agriculture has remained static to 2.9% since the last six years. This means that the post-green revolution conventional agriculture has reached its peak. Responsiveness of soil fertility to fertiliser application, an indicator of stagnancy in agriculture, shows declining trend since 1970. The worst sufferer has been the small and marginal farmers who constitute 86% of total farmers.