While India has placed around 1.3 billion people under a 21-day lockdown, as a means to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, people living below the poverty line are suffering the most over the lack of adequate planning ahead of this decision.
India’s COVID-19 lockdown left millions of poor people hungry and jobless following the shutdown of businesses and factories, forcing them to flee cities and walk hundreds of kilometers to their native villages.
The prime minister, addressed the nation, apologizing for the unprecedented lockdown. “I would firstly like to seek forgiveness from all my countrymen,” Modi said in a nationwide radio address on Sunday.
“I know some of you will be angry with me. But these tough measures were needed to win this battle.”
The poor “would definitely be thinking what kind of prime minister is this, who has put us into so much trouble,” he said, stating that there was no other option.
“Steps taken so far … will give India victory over corona,” he added.
According to official data, about 85% of the Indian economy comprises of employment such as maids, laborers, rickshaw pullers, itinerant produce peddlers, and other informal workers.
As a reminder, over a quarter of India’s 1.3 billion people live below the poverty line. On Thursday, the government took the initiative of implementing a $22.6bn economic incentive plan to make available direct cash transfers and food contributions to poor citizens.
Most of these people buy food with the money they make daily and have no savings, making 21 days of lockdown impossible for them without government support.
According to experts, the spreading of the virus is inevitable in a country where tens of millions of people live in dense urban areas in cramped conditions without any access to potable water.
Up to date, 1071 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in India, including 29 deaths.