COVID-19 impact: Informal economy workers excluded from most govt measures, be it cash transfers or tax benefits

Categories: News

COVID-19 is far more than a health crisis. The economic crisis a severe fallout of the virus is grim and much grimmer for developing countries like India. The pandemic has already exposed the health vulnerabilities facing India, especially it’s rural poor and urban slum dwellers. As a measure to contain the community transmission of the virus, the government announced a nationwide lockdown which was extended twice to continue through 17 May.

The impact of a little less than two-month lockdown is turning out to be immense. Since economic activities have come to a standstill, factories are not running, establishments are closed, and most markets are shut, there is a disruption in work, wages/income, and food all three interconnected for crores of people in India. Almost 90 percent of workers in India work in the informal economy that part of the economy which thrives on daily work, and daily cash, with little provisions of employment protection. Like demonetization, the current lockdown has exposed millions of workers and their families to starvation, hunger, death, and very bleak future prospects.

In this article, an attempt is made to bring to the fore discussions on the employment scenario and household income in the pre-lockdown and post-lockdown periods, with a motivation to spell out the probable consequences on the Indian economy, especially the informal economy including the poor, the marginalized.

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