Why India’s poorest are starving during lockdown - 47 Roots
47 Roots have released a video detailing how India's 800 million poor will be the hardest hit by the state-imposed lockdown.
India’s lockdown which was originally introduced on 24 March, for a 3 week period, was imposed with only 4 hours notice and has a dramatic impact on workers in the informal sector. 47 Roots notes that the informal sector accounts for 81% of employment and includes roles such as drivers, milkmen and construction workers. These workers are only paid for their daily labour can earn as little as two dollars a day. With the lock-down still in place, these workers find themselves without these meagre wages. India’s unemployment rate has risen from 6 - 23%.
As a result, many are faced with the threat of starvation and have turned to pillage rubbish heaps to find food.
Much of this labour force is comprised of migrant labour which had travelled to neighbour regions in India in search of work. Due to the on-going difficulties, many have been forced to return home to overcrowded slums with poor sanitation.
47 Roots also notes that the growing international concern of police violence in enforcing India’s lockdown measures. Video footage has been released of police beating and humiliating those breaking lockdown measures. This treatment includes forces them to do squats and other exercises as well as dousing them with disinfectants which contained bleach. There are also reports of those seen to violate the lockdown measures being locked in cages.
Mistreatment of Muslims
47 Roots further warns against the prevalence of fake news stories which have led to an increase in racist abuse against India’s Muslim minority. Indian Muslims have been subject to public beatings, boycotts and discrimination by healthcare professionals.
There have been reports of segregated wards with doctors refusing treatment for Muslim patients
47 Roots notes that the early imposition of the lockdown has helped to curb the spread of the coronavirus however further states that the lack of widespread testing raises concerns over the accuracy of the reported number of cases in India.
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has announced $2.2 billion support package for India’s approximately 800 million poor.
This support package will help finance free food, cash handouts, wages, reduction in rent and in some cases transportation back to worker’s home states. 47 Roots warn however that this has only reached a small proportion of people.
Watch 47 Roots video here.