The Moving Curve: Episode 18

Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, and I’m a data journalist based in Chennai. Every night on this mini-cast I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m asking this question: how do we step up social welfare to prevent a poverty-driven spread of the epidemic?

BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis’s opening words:

When the lockdown was first brought in, I looked at the numbers on India’s workforce for an article I did for Mint that I’ve linked to:

The situation in the mills at a discussion organised by the organisation Praxis:

A CMIE report indicates that unemployment has shot up.

The organisation Jan Sahas interviewed 3,200 migrant construction workers in north India

Reporting for Newslaundy, The journalist Anumeha Yadav interviewed a young garment worker, Pinky Devi, in Delhi as she stood in a line for food being given out by an NGO:

From NDTV’s reporter Anurag Dewary in Bhind in Madhya Pradesh comes this awful story:

A group of women went to withdraw the Rs 500 announced by Prime Minister Modi from their Jan Dhan accounts and got arrested for violating social distancing, and released only on paying Rs 10,000.

So what do we do. Well for one, this is not the time to ask for documents, which anyway exclude the poorest and most marginalised. Schemes have to be opened uo to cover everyone, especially for food. Then, the amounts are just too small. 500 in women’s accounts for a whole month is just shockingly little, and the government has to help support households through the loss of an entire month’s earnings. Then it should hardly need saying but police brutality on the poor must stop right away. And finally, any decisions on an extension of the lockdown should be driven by a focus on both social welfare and public health. After all in this pandemic, they’re related.

Thank you for listening. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. Tomorrow — a new question.

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I am a data journalist based in Chennai, India.

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