Skip to main content

Street vendors 'devoid' of rights in a country run by one who claims to be chaiwala

By Shreshth Virmani*

Sudhirbhai (name changed) is a tea vendor in Ahmedabad and since the time first curfew was imposed he has been struggling to survive. Now when the country has opened up, his earnings are nowhere near the pre-lockdown levels. Earlier he used to make about Rs 500 on daily basis but now it is less than Rs 200. People like Sudhirbhai are still struggling to meet their ends.
The situation is same with majority of the hawkers and vendors all over the country. Kavita (name changed), who is a hawker in a small town in Haryana, says, “Before the lockdown, I used to make sales of Rs 1500 per day and was able to save Rs 500 as profits on daily basis. However, now the sales are less than Rs 700 and savings have reduced substantially. Now, there are no NGOs helping with the food requirements as was the case during lockdown, and extortion by municipal authorities has increased”. 
Street vendors are the backbone of Indian economy and are considered as an integral part of urban retail trade and distribution system for daily necessities. According to the government estimates, street vending accounts for approximately 14 per cent of total urban informal employment in the country. Though, the stringent lockdown restrictions have been lifted, the business for street vendors has still not picked up. With reduced crowd on the Indian streets, they are facing decreased incomes. The life for them was much better before the lockdowns.
Recently, the government came up with PM SVANidhi, or Pradhan Mantri Street Vendors Atma Nirbhar Nidhi scheme, to provide loans to street vendors for upto Rs. 10,000. However, the bank officials have taken opportunistic advantage of illiterate street vendors. 
According to a government estimate, street vending accounts for approximately 14% of total urban informal employment in the country
The president of the Vendors’ Welfare Association at Lanka in Varanasi, Chintamani Seth, says that of all the applications for loans, only less than 30% have received the loans after much struggle and that too at high interest rates from the nationalized banks in Varanasi. 
There is no authority to listen to poor vendors. Further, many of the street vendors have not been allowed to operate at the same places post lockdowns, even if vendors complied with all government regulations on Covid-19 prevention.
It is quite ironical that in a country where the prime minister identifies himself as a chaiwala, street vendors have to undergo difficulties in running their businesses. Their rights are not respected and are most often termed as illegal businesses. Nevertheless, the local authorities and policemen often extort money from the poor fellows to allow them to operate their business. 
The atrocities of local authorities against the street vendors is not new, every now and then street vendors have been exploited. The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 was formed with the objective of legalize street vending and protecting the rights of urban street vendors. However, till date the vendors in most pockets of India have not been granted licences to operate in the designated vending zones.
Chintamani says, in Varanasi, local body has colluded with trade unions and local businesses to eliminate street vendors from crowed marketplaces and develop vending zones at remote places in the city with limited footfall. If vendors protest, then they are harassed and beaten up. This is shameful when such activities happen under the nose of prime minister and he describes himself as a chaiwala and lauds of crucial role of street vendors in Uttar Pradesh economy.
We need concrete steps to be taken by government to direct municipal authorities about the creation of vending zones at existing places where street vendors usually operate. Further, they shall be given certificate of vending to prevent local authorities to illegally extort money from them. The prime minister and state chief ministers shall take cognizance of the difficulties that street vendors face and take decisive action against the corrupt officials in the lower levels of government machinery.
--
*Student of Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, dreams for a better India based on equal opportunities for and equality of all communities. Views expressed are personal

Comments

TRENDING

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

Nalanda mahavihara 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".

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Lost to commercialisation, vanity? Ashram awaits 'second assassination' of Gandhiji

Counterview Desk  Around 130 “concerned” citizens, in a statement, have protested against the Government of India and Gujarat government decision to turn Gandhi Ashram into a ‘world-class’ tourist destination spread over 54 acres at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, which would include a Gandhi Ashram Memorial, an amphitheater, a VIP lounge, shops and a food court, stating it would compromise and trivialize the “sanctity and importance of the present-day Ashram, mainly Hriday Kunj, surrounding buildings, and the museum.”

Tussle between Modi-led BJP govt, Young India 'key to political battle': NAPM

Counterview Desk  In its month-long campaign, civil rights network National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) carried out what it called Young People's Political Persecution and Resistance in “solidarity with all comrades facing political persecution and remembering human rights defender Stan Swamy…”

Govt of India has 'no moral right' to declare national day for Muslim women, Naqvi told

Counterview Desk  In what has been described as a nationwide outpouring of condemnation, following the announcement by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of Minority Affairs, declaring August 1 as ‘Muslim Women’s Rights Day’ to mark the anniversary of the Triple Talaq law, over 650 citizens have said it is nothing but "cynical optics" of using Muslim women’s rights in the face of an "unprecedented" onslaught against the rights of the Muslims in recent years.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.

Madhya Pradesh Adivasis protest externment notice to Barwani tribal rights leader

By Harsing Jamre, Nasri Bai Ningwal, Prakash Bandod*  Over 2,500 Adivasis mobilized in response to Barwani district administration’s recent move to issue a show cause notice to Valsingh Saste, a prominent Adivasi activist of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), Madhya Pradesh. For two decades, Valsingh Saste as an activist of JADS has been continuously leading struggles for the constitutional and fundamental rights of Adivasis.

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.

How Madhya Pradesh cops, ABVP 'pressured' varsity to cancel scientific temper webinar

Apoorvanand, Gauhar Raza Counterview Desk  An online petition, signed* by over a thousand citizens -- mainly activists and academics -- titled “Attack on scientific temper”, floated by the civil rights group Anhad, has strongly protested against  to use of administration to cancel an International Webinar on Cultural and Linguistic Hurdles in the Achievement of Scientific Temper under the pressure of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the BJP's student wing.