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Civil Societies during Lockdown

Which areas received relief during lockdown?

1. Direct financial assistance to poor people including construction workers under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.

2. First installment of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme to the farmers was given.

3. Women Jan Dhan account holders were given financial assistance.

4. Widows, elderly and disabled persons were also given relief.

5. Free ration of food grains was distributed under the Pradhan Mantri Garim Kalyan Ann Yojana.

6. Free cylinders were delivered under Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana.

What are the concerns?

There were concerns related to these relief activities. They are

1. Adequacy of the volume of relief relative to the number of potential beneficiaries.

2. The question of intended beneficiaries receiving the relief or not.

3. Incidences of underestimations at state level are common. So, official assurances of relief fail to translate into actual implementation, with several beneficiaries being left out.

4. Also, being enlisted as a beneficiary does not necessarily preclude exclusion. This has been the case of construction workers.

Why vulnerable sections are not receiving much support?

1. The government’s decision leading to a sudden halt in the economy has put businesses, especially the small ones, in a state of difficult situation.

2. Government’s resources for providing relief to the lockdown-affected may soon burn out as additional people are likely to fall into extreme poverty.

3. So, dignity of life and labour of the poor are being compromised.

4. The poor are being treated as collateral as they are at the lower end of the supply chains where little economic value addition occurs.

How has civil society organisations helped?

1. Various NGOs have helped the government in identifying COVID-19 hotspots, delivering services to vulnerable groups, providing shelter to the homeless, daily wage workers, and urban poor families, setting up community kitchens for migrants and creating awareness about prevention.

2. Many NGOs have also resorted to crowdfunding for providing basic food and medicines to the vulnerable groups.