Pandemic of poverty: India's financial crisis worsens

Mafazah Sharafuddin
May 31, 2021

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As the country suffers the threat of death and disease, financial struggle looms over it. There has been a huge loss for several of the economy. The government has issued aid, however, it is insufficient and neglects the unorganized sector entirely. 

The estimation of the government, standing at Rs 1,250 crore, and is not close to what is needed by the people. Additionally, it does not aid those who don’t come under government schemes, meaning a huge chunk of the unorganized and industrial sector. 

The financial crisis in India due to COVID is a many headed demon. So many different issues have arisen since the start of the pandemic, and the people of India are suffering under the financial burden. 

Sudden shifts

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the word ‘unprecedented’ has been used innumerable times. Problems arrive suddenly, with no warning. People are losing their jobs all at once after years of working in the same place. 

With the magnitude of the death toll, many a times the sole breadwinner of the house passes away. This leaves the family floundering, looking for jobs and trying to keep mouths fed.

People who are newly unemployed and unable to find jobs in the same industry are left confused. They have a skillset that employers are not looking for and eventually, they have to resort to unskilled labor which gives them lower wages. 

Warning signs 

The fact is that the people are suffering. The numbers back it up. There has been a 15 to 20% increase in poverty since the pandemic began. This means more than 23 crore people have slipped below the poverty line. 

Unemployment has increased, too. 1.5 people have been lost their jobs, and those who continue to be employed face lowered salaries. The per capita income of the country has lowered by 16.8% to what it was in January of 2020. 

Within 2020, there was an increase in people partially withdrawing funds from their Employee Provident Fund accounts. While it was 54 lakh people in 2019, 2020 saw 1.27 crore people doing the same. 

According to RBI, there had been an 81.5% increase in that loans against gold jewelry by Scheduled Commercial Banks in March in comparison with the same last year. 

MFIs, MSMEs suffer losses

MFIs (Micro finance Institutions) cater to the poorer sections of Indian society. The lockdowns have has adverse effects on the functioning of NBFCs and MFIs. With the poor already suffering through unemployment and steep hospital bills, this too has caused a bad hit.

Some sectors are faring worse than others. These industries thrive on travel, face to face interactions and consumerism. Retail, MSME, and hospitality are some of them.

The pandemic has resulted in the closure of 15-20% of the MSMEs in India. Large scale supply chains are taking away their customers as they are not able to operate as usual during the pandemic. If the situation continues, there could be a much larger percentage of MSMEs closed during the pandemic. 

Small businesses run into trouble

Small businesses like family run stores are facing trouble getting customers and keeping their shops open. The lockdown hours put a huge dent in the time they can sell to people. Shops that don’t count as ‘essentials’ often cannot open at all. 

Chain supermarkets and other shops are seeing more traffic as these small businesses get neglected. Without their livelihood, the threat of COVID increases as they would not be able to afford the hospital bills and medication.

Sellers over the internet find it difficult to post packages as delivery services do not function everywhere due to COVID. Small businesses are losing customers at a large scale. 

Social workers rise to the occasion

While the situation is dire, social worker and organizations have taken the initiative to help people. All over India, social workers and volunteers are assisting on everything from grocery packages to cremations. 

The workers help with transportation, reservation of beds, intricacies of the Ayushman card, ensuring the patients and the family members staying with them are fed, etc. With the ongoing crisis with the bodies piling up with no one to deal with them, social workers are also burying and cremating bodies. 

Not just this, but they are also helping people who are not infected, but have been affected by the pandemic. Distributing food, rations etc. to those in need is another task they perform. 

However, without proper government aid to the poorer sections of society, there is no saying how bad the situation could get.

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News Network
November 17,2021

Bengaluru, Nov 17: An FIR has been registered against the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) Deputy Commissioner and two others in connection with allegedly receiving a bribe of Rs 1.70 crore and cheating a homemaker after promising to get a compensation for acquired land, police said on Wednesday.

Hema S. Raju, the 45-year old homemaker, a resident of Jayanagar, has lodged the complaint against BDA Deputy Commissioner Shivaraj, BDA officer Mahesh Kumar and broker Mohan Kumar with the RT Nagar police station.

The complainant has alleged that the accused Mohan Kumar had even threatened to get her killed by giving 'supari' if she continued to make phone calls to him.

The complainant Hema had been approaching BDA for a compensation amount for her 2.34 acre land in Hennur and Srirampura localities of Bengaluru, acquired for development of Arkavathi Layout in 2013.

The woman said that the accused officer Mahesh Kumar told her that another accused Shivaraj had kept her files pending and got him transferred from the Land Acquisition.

Mahesh Kumar further told her that if she wanted her work to be done, he should again get the same posting. He also told her that for doing that they will have to talk to accused Mohan Kumar, a broker.

Accordingly, the complainant met Mohan Kumar in January, 2020. He demanded Rs 1.50 crore bribe to get the compensation amount released. She gave Rs 50 lakh bribe on the same day, the complainant said in her plea.

She said after this Mahesh Kumar was transferred to the Land Acquisition department to facilitate the movement of her files. BDA Deputy Commissioner Shivaraj had taken Rs 20 lakh as bribe at this juncture, she said.

"In a phased manner the three accused got a total amount of Rs 1.10 crore from me. Accused Mohan Kumar kept on calling me and took Rs 60 lakh in addition after blackmailing that he would stall the movement of my file. But, even after paying money, I didn't get the compensation amount," she mentioned in her complaint.

When Hema contacted accused Shivaraj, he told that he was transferred to a different post and he is not concerned with her case any more. Broker Mohan Kumar threatened her that he would get her killed if she pursued the case. The police are now investigating her complaint. 

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News Network
November 22,2021

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Mangaluru, Nov 22: The Social Democratic Party of India has warned the Congress leaders of dire consequences if they continue to target the SDPI workers. A video, which has gone viral on social media, depicts SDPI Dakshina Kannada District President Abubakkar Kulai is heard warning the Congress, has sparked row. 

While addressing a public gathering, he said he has been observing that the Congress leaders are overcome by desperation at the growth of SDPI leaders during the last ten years in the Mangaluru Assembly constituency.

"The Congress party was disappointed to note the growth of our organization. As many as 58 representatives have emerged from this constituency. Seeing this, they (Congress leaders) are unable to bear our growth, and hence they are engineering attacks on our workers by hiring small-time goondas. You (Congress leaders) must be ashamed of it. Till now we had kept our heads low, but we have two 'Ms" with us. One is Manpower and two is Muscle power," Abubakker is heard saying.

"If you touch our workers anywhere. We will use our one M. Be careful. Our leaders have told us that if you want to join the SDPI, you should be ready for everything. You should be ready to sleep in hospitals. You must be ready to go to jail. You should be even ready to go to the graveyard.

"That doesn't mean that we will bow to you (Congress leaders). We know how to send you to that same hospital. And we also know how to send you to the same graveyard. We are going to respect the law of the land. We are giving respect to the law of the land. Hence, dare not touch our workers," he threatened.

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News Network
November 29,2021

Bengaluru, Nov 29: In a shocking incident, the dead bodies of two Covid-19 patients were found 15 months after they died at the ESI hospital mortuary in Rajajinagar in Bengaluru.

The authorities were planning to cremate the bodies on Monday as the family and relatives of one of the deceased did not show any interest in taking the body for final rites. And, the police were not able to trace another deceased person's whereabouts and family.

The bodies were recovered three days ago at the cold storage when the workers went there for cleaning. The negligence of the staff and doctors is said to be the reason for the dead bodies remaining at the cold storage without disposal.

The bodies were identified with the help of tags as Durga (40), a resident of Chamarajpet and Muniraju (35), a resident of K.P. Agrahara in Bengaluru. Both were admitted to the ESI hospital for the treatment of Corona infection in July, 2020.

However, as they succumbed to the deadly virus, their bodies were shifted to an old mortuary to be handed over to the BBMP for disposal. As the Covid protocol, the BBMP, the civic agency, was to cremate the dead bodies of the Corona victims and the bodies were not given to the families.

The ESI hospital's old mortuary has six cold storages for keeping the dead bodies. However, during the spike in the Covid deaths, it had become difficult for the hospital authorities to keep the dead bodies at the mortuary.

The government had constructed a new mortuary, which was inaugurated in December, 2020. As the new mortuary started functioning, due to negligence these two bodies remained in freezers.

The cleaning staff, who went to clean the old mortuary, noticed foul smell emanating from freezers and found bodies. The Rajajinagar police have taken up the case and tried to track relatives. Durga's husband is dead and her family has not shown interest in taking her body. The police were trying to find out the address of Muniraju's family members.

The development has drawn sharp reactions from the public against the ESI hospital staff and doctors for utter negligence in handling of dead bodies. 

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