COVID-19 AND ITS IMPACT ON LABOURERS OF INDIA
Written BY SAHER RONAQ
- WHAT IS COVID-19 AND CORONA VIRUS
According to the website of the World Health Organization, coronavirus disease is an infectious respiratory disease. Covid-19 is a disease that can range from having mild to fatal in some cases. It affects the upper respiratory tract infection that can range from being mild to fatal in some cases. It affects the upper respiratory tract (i.e. the nose, sinus and the throat and the lower respiratory tract (windpipe and lungs). The disease is caused by a coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2. It spreads the same way any other coronaviruses do, mainly through inter personal contact. In December 2019, reports emerged that a coronavirus that scientists had never seen before in humans had begun to spread among the population of Wuhan, a large city in China. Since then, the virus has spread to almost 185 countries now, both in and out of Asia and the WHO has declared this as a pandemic which could lead to global crisis.
- THE IMPACT ON THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
The process of globalization is one which enables a country’s economy to be open to other countries to form relations bases on investments and trade. It is the process by which businesses and other organizations develop international influence and start operating on an international level. Due to the process of globalization, the world economy has seen adverse downfall during the time of this pandemic. This shock during covid-19 has been both faster and more severe than the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and even the Great Depression.
The outbreak has left businesses and workers around the world counting costs. Few if its effects are the Global shares taking a hit, slashed interest rates, more people seeking work, rise in unemployment levels, oil price crash, risk of a global recession situation eventually leading to depression. The reports if the International Monetary Fund says that the global economy will shrink 1% in the year 2020 itself and then will shrink by 3% in the coming years.
- INDIAN ECONOMY AND CORONAVIRUS.
With more than 20 lakh people infected worldwide and 1.27 lakh dead, the pandemic shows no sign of control. The lockdowns had their own ill effects as they caused an economic shutdown. Reports say that The Indian Economy is likely to witness a sharp contraction of 4.5 percent (de-growth) during the 4th quarter of financial year 2020 and is expected to recover gradually to post a GDP growth of just 2% in financial year 2021. The main drivers of the economy are consumption and demand. As all the commercial institutions are shut, people end up not spending a penny. When the expenditure is low, government does not get its share of taxes and the owners are not earning any profits. These owners with no income would be bound to lay off and will resort to pay cuts. Due to the lockdown phases in India, about 92.5% of laborers have almost lost their jobs with some having meager to no work to earn their livelihood. Over 80% of the country’s migrant and daily wage population fears running out of food or being left with little to no money before the lockdown ends. Similarly, about 83.1% of laborers are not finding any work, 80.8% have run out of daily ration, 47.8% are not able to return to their villages, 15.2% are struck by some illness and 3.5% are recorded to be facing some other problems.
Over half of India’s daily wage and migrant population earns just around ₹200-₹400 per day much below the prescribed minimum wage which is ₹692, ₹629 and ₹571 for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers respectively and the pandemic has just deteriorated the condition. The Indian government has tried to save the migrant workers from the pain of the pandemic by announcing a ₹1.7 lakh crore package, but a large population is still kept aloof from the funds. A large number of those affected are unaware of any schemes, over 60% say that thy had no information about the same and ways to access them. Over 40% of migrant workers surveyed did not have any food supplies or ration for survival.
Several labourers have debts to repay which is an additional cause of anxiety without any source of income. About 78.7% workers and daily wage laborers fear not being able to pay the debts while almost 40% fear of violence by the creditors for such default.
About 400 million people working in the informal economic sector in India are at risk of falling deeper into poverty due to the pandemic. This has catastrophic consequences and is expected to wipe out 19.5 million full time jobs or 6.7% of working hours globally in the third and fourth quarter of the year
Lack of jobs, money, public transportation shut down has forced hundreds and thousands of migrant workers to walk miles back to their home villages with some of them dying during the journey. As India has started to relax the lockdown restrictions, speakers discuss the impact of covid-19 and containment measures on the most vulnerable groups in India. Now the authorities are resorting to explore the social policy measures and employment opportunities that can protect the informal and migrant workers from hunger and extreme poverty. But still there is a long way to cover with a high numbers of lacunas.