SEATTLE, Washington — India’s poverty rates are insanely high. While poverty rates are improving, poverty remains a major issue in the nation. Many people live in small huts that are dirty and unsanitary. Right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, these citizens are finding surviving more difficult. On March 24, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a full-on shutdown of the entire nation to contain the spread of COVID-19 in India.
Poverty and COVID-19 in India
Placing a curfew on 1.3 billion people, PM Modi asked his people to stay indoors after giving communities a few hours to stock up on necessities. Due to the lockdown, most businesses, except those that are essential, have closed. While this didn’t take a toll on the wealthy, it significantly impacted those living in poverty. Because businesses are closed, it is harder for those living below the poverty line to access basic resources such as food and shelter.
Due to the lockdown, those who own small businesses and rely on their businesses as their main source of income find it difficult to provide for their families. Furthermore, social distancing became impossible for communities who live clumped together in tiny huts. However, India is doing a variety of things to support poor communities during COVID-19. Not only the government but many celebrities are also using their wealth to support those who are suffering. Here are a few ways in which India is supporting its poor communities amid COVID-19:
Many Indian celebrities are using their voices and wealth to help support many poor communities. Bollywood’s popular celebrity, Salman Khan, sent funds to many workers who relied on the film industry to make their daily incomes. Along with this, Khan is contributing food packages to poor communities under his Being Haangryy initiative. Actor Varun Dhawan also donated meals to individuals who are homeless and unemployed within poor communities. These examples only scratch the surface; many actors have used social media to spread the word and generate funds to support poor families who are suffering.
Many classic non-profit organizations also contributed generous amounts to help support those living in poverty. The NGO Zomato Feeding India started a ‘Feed the Daily Wager’ project when PM Modi announced the lockdown. This project provided food support to families of daily wage workers who lost their jobs.
Another NGO that is bringing in relief for poor daily wage earners is Give India. This organization collects online donations and uses then to donate food packages to those who have lost their jobs and hygiene kits to areas that have a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 in India. People living in poor communities are at higher risks because of unsanitary living conditions. Zomato Feeding India and Give India are only two NGOs who are working towards relief; there are many more who are working towards providing aid to those suffering.
The Big Industries
Many large industries and corporations also pitched in resources to support the poor. Anil Agarwal, a metals and mining industrial tycoon, set up a $13 million fund that seeks to benefit “daily wage workers, employees and contract workers” as well as preventative healthcare. Founder of Zoho Corp., Sridhar Vembu, announced a program that benefits small businesses by waiving software fees for three months. This helps small businesses continue to run without having to worry about paying off fees or purchasing another technological source.
The Indian Government
The Modi government is under a lot of heat after the announcement of the lockdown. While the Modi government stands for helping the poorer communities, this decision placed the poor in a rough situation. Despite these criticisms, the Modi government is working on carrying out relief programs that can help those living in poverty.
Poorer families found it difficult to access food due to ceased incomes. In response to this need, India’s government allowed a $22.5 billion relief plan to benefit millions of families, including cash transfers. This relief also provided free gas cylinders to many families so they will be able to cook meals at home.
Prime Minister Modi apologized to the poor communities in a public broadcast for taking such measures and harming the people his party stands for. The Modi government continues to spread positive messages to show why the lockdown is a necessity to protect India’s national health.
Within the context of COVID-19 in India, the citizens of India are doing a wonderful job collecting funds and spreading awareness to support poorer communities. While more economic aid is necessary to support the poor communities, India is successfully bringing slow and steady relief to these families.
– Krishna Panchal