RitNEW DELHI: While the nation prepares for ‘Janta Curfew’ for Sunday, social protection is the need of the hour, especially for the people engaged in the informal sector, pointed out activists.
“The need of the hour is to restrict physical mobility. The problem cannot be tackled if it is divorced from social protection. Food security, regular health protection, and income supplementation have to work in tandem,” said Kinjal Sampat, consultant, Indian Institute of Human Settlements.
While according to the Economic Survey of 2018-19, over 90 per cent of the total workforce is 'informal', Niti Aayog says according to estimates India’s informal sector employs approximately 85 per cent of all workers.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to people to have ‘people’s curfew’ on March 22 in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
“People will isolate if they do not need to worry about provisioning basics such as food at home. In addition to being public-spirited, restricting one’s mobility requires assurances that the basics of everyday life will not be affected. If the government is serious about making people stick to the intended behaviour, then it cannot do so without ensuring these minimal protective measures,” said Sampat.
Advocacy group Housing and Land Rights Network’s Shivani Chaudhry said: “The coronavirus pandemic has exposed major gaps in housing and social protection systems across the world.”
It is also essential that the government comes up with a structured mechanism to ensure food supply for the homeless people, pointed out Mohd Tarique, Project Director, Koshish, which is a field action project of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
While the economy is likely to shrink with the outbreak of coronavirus and the burden on the informal sector being significant, activist Anjali Bhardwaj said there should be two to three months provisioning of some form of security pension and essential commodities.
“With an overwhelmingly large population in the unorganised sector, social security measures should be in place. Even if they lose their jobs or employment opportunities, they can survive with some level of dignity,” said Bhardwaj.