Will Lockdown Give Rise To Hunger In India?

Government announced schemes for the poor in this crisis – but is there a point if the poorest can’t access them?

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Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

The 21-day national lockdown to fight the spread of the lethal coronavirus is testing the limits of poor in India. While the country is fighting the coronavirus, the poor are fighting hunger.

The government has made big announcements to ameliorate the effects of the lockdown for the poor: They will get additional rations through their ration cards and they will get money under the Jan Dhan Yojana.

But this will be possible only when everybody has a ration card or bank account. There are large swathes of people in the country who do not have either a ration card, nor a bank account nor a job card nor a voter card nor a NREGA job card!

We do not know how many – it may be five percent or 10 percent. But there are 5 to 10 crore people in the country who simply cannot get these benefits. 

Hunger strikes at the margins of society. For example, outside a village in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, we met people of the Vanraj community who are living in tents. We found a woman whose child is so young that he is dependent on his mother’s milk, but she has no sustenance to offer because she is starving.

For the poor now, their immediate crisis isn’t coronavirus – it’s hunger.

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