Question : This COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how differently the population groups in different economic strata are affected by pandemics. What in your opinion are the most adversely impacted populations? What measures would you suggest to provide relief to those groups? Discuss.
Structure of the answer
- Discuss at first the different economic groups have been affected differently by this pandemic.
- Point out the adversely affected groups along with the reasons.
- Bring in the possible measures that can be put into practice for the relief of these groups.
The economic crisis induced by COVID‐19 could be long, deep, and pervasive when viewed through migration lens. Lockdowns, travel bans, and social distancing have brought global economic activities to a near standstill. In India there are multiple socio-economic disadvantages that members of particular groups experience which limits their access to health and healthcare.
Different groups which was severely affected By COVID pandemic
The vulnerable groups which are exposed to their vulnerabilities during COVID-19 pandemic are- Women, Children, Students, Aged, Disabled, Poor migrants, unorganized sectors workers, People living with ailments and Sexual Minorities. The COVID-19 pandemic affected these vulnerable sections of population differently:
- While children’s health appears less impacted by COVID-19 than older adults, children’s education are interrupted, protective structures disrupted and their families and communities placed under stress by health and economic burdens.
- COVID-19 pandemic, increased girls’ and young women’s duties caring for elderly and ill family members, as well as for siblings who are out of school.
- Girls, especially those from marginalized communities and with disabilities, may be particularly affected by the secondary impacts of the outbreak. It also put at women at greater risk of exploitation, child labor and gender-based violence.
- The impact on older adults is notable. According to World Health Organization (WHO) data from April 2020, more than 95% of COVID-19 deaths were among people over 60 years of age, and more than half of all deaths occurred in people of 80 years-plus.
- Migrant workers majorly comprise of daily-wage labourers working in the manufacturing and construction industries. They are often denied adequate healthcare, nutrition, housing and sanitation facilities. Many have no savings and lived in factory dormitories, which were shut due to the lockdown.
- Thousands of migrants gathered at the train termini and bus stations, seeking transport to their hometowns. With the nationwide lockdown, all transport facilities were closed.
- With no work and no money, and lockdown restrictions putting a stop to public transport, thousands of migrant workers were seen walking or bicycling hundreds of kilometers (or even more than a thousand kilometers) to go back to their native villages, some with their families.
- Due to the lockdown, more than 300 deaths were reported till 5 May, with reasons ranging from starvation, suicides, exhaustion, road and rail accidents, police brutality and denial of timely medical care.
- While government schemes ensured that the poor would get additional rations due to the lockdown, the distribution system failed to be effective as the ration cards are area-specific and fair price shops were largely inaccessible.
Measures to provide relief to these groups
- First of all an online database needs to be created to register the names and places of origin and migration of the workers e.g. An online database named as National Migrant Information System (NMIS), by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). It will help streamline the movement of the migrant workers.
- Setting up of relief camp, facilitating food and healthcare to the poor people, migrants should be priority for the regions where transport facility is not available. e.g. Over 500 hunger relief centres were set up by the Delhi government. One nation One ration card scheme by Union government.
- Arranging the interstate transport facility for the migrants so that their migration can be streamlined. e.g. Shramic special trains were arranged by the Government.
- Relief measures also needs to be announced. For instance, Soon after the nationwide lockdown was announced in late March, Finance ministry announced a ₹1.7 lakh crore spending plan for the poor. This consisted of cash transfers and steps to ensure food security.
- Though these vulnerable sections were the mostly affected it doesn’t mean that other section of people faced less difficulties. The scale of adversities faced by different sections of people were different hence, necessary arrangements also needs to be implemented. e.g. now a days it is happening that health sector workers fell more prone to the COVID-19 infection. Which is a emerging challenge.
Hence, we can say that COVID-19 pandemic’s impact differs in its scale in different sections of people. But, the most affected one’s are the people who belonged to the vulnerable section of population. As ensuring the healthcare and providing adequate means of livelihood for all is one of the responsibility of the government. Poor people and migrant workers can’t be left outside this ambit.