The headlines one may often read in the international publications ever since India went into lockdown to contain the spread of Corona virus predict doomsday scenarios. Sample the following:
India’s Coronavirus Lockdown Leaves Vast Numbers Stranded and Hungry – The New York Times
Hungry and harassed under India’s coronavirus lockdown- Al Jazeera.
The BBC, which arguably has a track record of biased reportage on India reflecting their neo-colonial mindset, ran this headline on March 25, 2020, of course, attributing the quote to poor.
Proved Wrong and How
While there is no denying the fact that the migrant population and the working class got a rude shock due to an unavoidable lockdown, it is undeniable that the administration, both at the Centre and State levels, has moved in to act swiftly, blunting the impact of the lockdown on India’s vulnerable people. Here are some noteworthy numbers and facts.
- 21,500 is the number of relief camps set up for migrant workers as on April 1, 2020
- About 6.75 lakhs number of persons were sheltered as on April 1, 2020.
- Over 8.5 lakhs cooked meals were distributed to needy people by Indian Railways alone between March 28, 2020 to April 9, 2020.
- 12.1 MMT of food grains are being supplied to 81 crore people in 3 months @5 Kg per person.
- 77 rakes carrying about 2.16 Lakh MT grain – a record of transport was set by the Food Corporation of India on April 9, to meet the needs during lockdown.
- ₹15,841 crore has been released so far under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme during the lockdown period from March 24,2020, benefitting 7.92 crore farmer families.
- 4.07 crore women Jan Dhan account holders have already received their first instalment of ex-gratia payment as promised by FM Nirmala Sitharaman in March 26, 2020.
- 109 time-table parcel trains have been running to supply essential commodities including perishable horticulture produce, seeds, milk and dairy products covering 59 routes. This helps farmers at one end and give reliefs to consumers restricted to their homes.
- ₹11,092 crores is the amount Central Government has released in advance as its share of the first installment of State Disaster Risk Management Fund for the year 2020-21. This will help the States to set up quarantine facilities, start sample collection and screening; setting up additional testing laboratories, cost of consumables; purchase of personal protection equipment for healthcare, municipal, police and fire authorities; purchase thermal scanners, ventilators, air purifiers, and consumables for Government hospitals.
- ₹15,000 crores for ‘India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package’ has also been announced.
These are only some among the many measures rapidly initiated by the government, which have also started to materialize on the ground. While ensuring ration for the poor, there are additional measures taken too. To support the NGOs/Charitable organizations involved in relief operations, Government has given directions to FCI to provide wheat at ₹21/Kg and Rice ₹22/Kg uniformly across the country to all such organizations without any upper limit on quantity.
Adding to this, many state governments are taking additional steps to mitigate the pain of migrants and poor sections during lockdown period. For example, over 4.8 lakh daily wagers have got ₹1,000 financial assistance each from the Uttar Pradesh government. The Uttar Pradesh government already deposited ₹611 crore in the bank account of 27.5 lakh workers in the state under the MNREGA scheme.
Of course, religious institutions, groups, common citizens have been helping the poor with food and basic necessities.
Together, India is proving the naysayers wrong.