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
September 7,2021

Guwahati, Sept 7: All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) president Badruddin Ajmal on Monday said the Congress might have snapped ties with the party but he has no grudge against it as the decision will benefit both the parties during by-elections to be held in seats lying vacant due to resignation of MLAs.

GuwahatiThe AIUDF chief said his party will contest one or two seats in the by-polls, the dates of which are yet to be announced.

"Whatever decision the big brother (Congress) takes, we agree to it. We have accepted that the alliance is not there anymore but they could have at least discussed the matter with us once before announcing their decision," Ajmal said.

At a meeting of its core committee on August 30, the state Congress decided to break alliance with the AIUDF saying "continuous and mysterious praise of the BJP and the chief minister by AIUDF leadership and senior members have affected the public perception of the Congress party".

The AIUDF was part of the Congress-led Grand Alliance that fought the BJP-headed in NDA in the assembly election held earlier this year in Assam.

To a question, Ajmal said the party did not feel betrayed by the decision of the Congress.

"Why should we feel betrayed? We had a political arrangement and then they decided to break the ties. Let them be happy and we are also happy," the MP from Dhubri said.

Of the six vacant assembly constituencies where by-elections will be held, the AIUDF will contest in only one or two, he said without naming the seats.

"The break-up of the alliance will benefit both the AIUDF and the Congress," he said without elaborating.

Ajmal, however, criticised Raijor Dal president and independent MLA Akhil Gogoi, claiming that he is "frustrated and seeking cheap publicity".

"Akhil is meeting Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to be part of an all-India alliance. His party has only one MLA and he wants to be a national leader. This is indeed a joke," the MP said.

The 10-party Grand Alliance was formed ahead of this year''s assembly elections in the state. Besides the Congress, AIUDF and Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), it comprised the Jimochayan (Deori) People''s Party (JDPP), Adivasi National Party (ANP), CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), Anchalik Gana Morcha, and the RJD. The alliance had won 50 seats in the assembly polls with Congress securing 29, AIUDF 16, BPF four and the CPI(M) one.

On August 30, the Congress also decided to snap ties with the BPF.

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News Network
September 14,2021

Mangaluru, Sept 14: Offline classes for grades 8, 9 and 10 will commence in Dakshina Kannada district from September 17 and for grades 6 and 7 from September 20.

Deputy commissioner KV Rajendra chairing an official meeting on Monday said that schools should compulsorily follow Covid-19 guidelines while commencing offline classes. 

“Nearly 99% of teachers and staff in schools in the district have received vaccines. Currently, 261 children are undergoing treatment for Covid-19. Take initiatives for the treatment of children and trace their contacts. Teachers should ensure that all children entering classes are wearing masks and follow social distancing strictly,” the DC said.

He said schools should continue the online classes even after the commencement of offline classes. “Consent letters from parents should be obtained compulsorily before allowing children to attend offline classes. Students from Kerala should stay in hostels or they may continue to attend online classes,” he said.

Schools should provide basic facilities including toilets before the commencement of offline classes. Teachers and staff should undergo Covid-19 tests periodically and ensure that parents of children attending classes have no symptoms of Covid-19, he added.

Though the DC allowed PU colleges to commence offline classes for I PU, the date has not been fixed. DDPU C D Jayanna said that classes will be commenced for I PU as per guidelines soon.

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News Network
September 15,2021

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Mumbai, Sept 15: Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah has alleged that the government is encouraging Indian filmmakers to make propaganda films “lauding the efforts of our beloved leader”.

“They are being encouraged by the government to make pro-government films, to make films lauding the efforts of our beloved leader. They are also being financed, also promised a clean chit if they make movies which are propaganda, to put it bluntly,” Shah said in an interview.

He likened the situation to when top-class filmmakers were rounded up in Nazi Germany to make films propagating Nazi philosophy. “You will find the biggest guys giving in to this,” the actor said.

This comes days after a video of Shah went viral wherein he was condemning Indian Muslims who were celebrating the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

The 71-year-old actor told the publication that he had no proof but it was obvious, adding that while there is no outright bigotry in the industry, actors are harassed if they speak out.

“They (the Khans) are worried because of the harassment they face. They have so much to lose. It is a question of their entire establishments getting harassed,” he said.

Noting that he never felt any discrimination in the industry, Shah said the only thing that matters in the industry is the revenue you generate.

Commenting on his remarks on the Taliban, he said that ‘celebration’ may not have been the right word but he said that his comments were “perfectly reasonable”.

On those who were offended by his comments, Shah said, “There is an atmosphere of bottled hate just waiting to be released. People are waiting to take offence to anything. If they had heard my statement, they would have realised there is nothing to get their knickers in a twist about.” 

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