COROLLARIES OF COVID-19 OVER LIVELIHOOD OF PEOPLE
The Author of this blog is Ms. Saloni Jha, Student, Amity Law School, Noida, U.P.
Even putting one foot outside the home can bring prospective
threat to our life, but can anyone justify any person’s ordeal of staying within
four walls without any means of survival? In order to restrain from the spread
of the Coronavirus, the whole world went under lockdown for months in
accordance with the guidelines laid down by the governments of the respective
countries. This decision of lockdown posed uncertainty and took a toll over the
livelihood of many individuals all across the world. Nations all across the
world are facing the consequences of the shutdown; 67 million people are
speculated to lose their job in the most developed nation, i.e. the United
States of America.
But developing and underdeveloped nations emerged as the most vulnerable
countries during these tough times, including India.
Concerns before the Indian administration were more
severe and became evident within a few days after the announcement of sudden
lockdown. Two divergent groups emerged; one group raised persistent voice
against the lockdown, whereas the other group believed lockdown to be an
indispensable weapon to fight against COVID-19.
It is important to note the fact that before the spread of Coronavirus, 40.4 crores out of India's population out of
130 crores were reported to be unemployed. But after the spread, shocking reports have been released by CMEI which
says reportedly that additional 11.9 crores people have lost their jobs since
the start of this pandemic and now the total number of the
unemployed population is 28.5 crore in India. The numbers are expected to elevate in
The reasons are clearly evident, and the harsh reality cannot be flouted that due to the non-operation of many industries for many months, sectors like tourism, travelling, hotel, agriculture etc. have experienced immense loss. The prospected success of tourism in the near future is stark due to persistent fear of the spread of the Coronavirus, which will be there among human for an unknown period. Rabi crops stood idle in the fields of farmers; flowers kept on perishing; poultry, fishery and dairy industry are fighting for their survival. These names of the industries are just the tip of an iceberg that has gone through immense loss, and as a result, unlimited labours and workers have lost their livelihood, and many are expecting to lose their job in the near future as well. The date of revival of these industries is not known, and the futures of these industries are bleak as till date nobody knows about the doomsday of this Coronavirus.
The justification is given by the employers, i.e. due
to non-operation of industries, employers, don't have sufficient means to pay
the employees and workers seem plausible. Many industries and multinational
companies have minimised their operations due to a decrease in the demand for
the product in the market. In order to cover the loss of the industries, employers
were left with no other option than removing their employees.
The first question is justifiable to compromise with
human rights and fundamental rights in order to protect the citizen from the
life-threatening virus? Human rights are those obligatory rights
endowed on humans which need recognition by the states, but even without
intention, this pandemic has forced the states to compromise in recognising
these basic rights; one such right is the right to movement. Freedom of
Movement can be seen as one such important right which ensures the
applicability of other rights as well. In India, still, many people cannot sit
and earn money due to lack of technological advancement in India among
economically weaker sections of people.
Along with the right to movement, Right to Livelihood
has also been obstructed due to due to the limitation posed on the right to
movement. Right to livelihood is considered as the part of Right Life, which is
one of the fundamental rights of people under Article 21 of the constitution of
India. Right to livelihood is associated with other aspects impeccable for
human survival like housing, food, access to healthcare, sanitation, these are
the primary concerns which can toll over life in case the livelihood of people
have been seized. Infringement of one right can have negative consequence over
all the aspects of the life of a human being.
Right to health has also been infringed due to the
unavailability of employment. To understand this, it is important to realise
that one of the major requisites to protect oneself from the wrath of this
Coronavirus are taking precautions like washing one's hands for several times
in a day and other precautions like buying masks. Taking these precautions
requires investment in terms of money, but due to the prospected unemployment
in the midst of the Coronavirus, we cannot expect every person to take
The next question which needs to be asked is what
is the impact of lockdown on the livelihood of an unorganised-sectors employee?
The spread of the coronavirus posed a threat mainly over the livelihood of
those who were on short term contract or in situations, where the employer was
not contractually obligated to pay the employee on a daily basis.
Due to these conditions, Thousands of migrant workers were witnessed on the
roads of the nation, raising their willingness to return back to their homes.
Migrant workers did not have any means to turn to, as many of these workers were
expelled from the job in cities, and they were left with few pennies in their
pockets to survive.
emerged as the most vulnerable group as there is direct connectivity between
migration and employment. People move from interior parts of the country to metropolitan
cities to earn for themselves and their family. Due to the sudden flow of
migrants to their native villages the cost of labour has decreased due to
increase in the number of prospected candidates to do the work.
Despite knowing the problems of these workers, Government advised the migrant
workers to not move towards their villages as their movement increases the
mobility of deadly communicable virus along with them as well.
What will be the long term impact of unemployment and
loss of livelihood over society? This pandemic has compelled many people to take such
steps which they never thought to take ever in life. With the increasing threat
over the livelihoods, people generally resort to other means to survive
themselves, and it leads to the commission of a felony on their part. Crime and
unemployment are very closely associated with each other. With the increase in
the rate of unemployment, it has been observed that the rate of crimes in
society also increments.
Thefts related to the immovable property have been
recorded to have been increased by 44%, and break-through robbery has been elevated
by 45% since the lockdown. According to a recent study over Norwegians
(residents of Norway), it was observed that 60 % of unemployed people turn
towards the commission of a crime to sustain themselves, This rate was 20% more
than the employed people. In
order to maintain peace in society, it’s important to increase the
opportunities for the unemployed without wasting minutes.
In order to combat the grievances of the unemployed
victims of this pandemic, the time has come when both the levels of Government
at the state and central Government have to work together vigorously to save
the lives of people who have fallen prey to this pandemic. The ILO suggested
that urgent measures are needed to be undertaken to protect and support people
who are employed in informal and unorganised sectors. Strongly based policies,
better-resourced and comprehensive social protection system, international
co-ordination have become an urgent need of the society. Current
programmes introduced seem more like "one size fits all" which is not
helping lots of people to come out of sheer poverty. Surveys have also revealed
that the rural areas will be comparatively severely economically affected than
the urban areas
due to the concentration of people involved in informal sector in rural areas. So,
it’s important to introduce rural centric programmes as well.
Government has initiated ‘PM Gareeb Kalyan Scheme’ under
which 1.74 lakh crore packages have been announced during this lockdown to
support the people who have been drastically affected by the wrath of the
pandemic. Many projects have been stalled or delayed with the change in the
budget reallocation. the
Government needs to fund these projects so that the jobs of lakhs of people can
be saved. Time has come when the Government shall include financial provisions
in The Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 to fight more such unseen obstructions in future.
At the end, it is crucial to understand that, Due to
the increase in expenses to cover the medical requirements of the country, it
might take time for India and other nations all over the world to revive its
economy with utmost vitality. Instead of criticising the Government solely,
everyone shall contribute their bit towards the people who have been critically
affected by this pandemic. The day would come soon when we all will be freed
from the physical and financial barrier posed by this pandemic.
 COVID-19 and IMPACT on Food Security and Livelihoods, British Red Cross, available at: https://www.livelihoodscentre.org/documents/114097690/181759481/FSL+Impact+and+COVID+19.pdf/1f4fc1c2-73d1-f756-5c1d-e8e33b94026d?t=1586863881452, last visited on 17th August 2020).
 Mari Rege, Torbjorn Skardhamar, Kjetil Telle, Mark Votruba, Job Displacement and crime: Evidence from Norwegian register data, (Elsevier 101761 (2019).
Sparshita Saxena, Nearly 80% of Indians witness dip in earnings amid Covid-19 lockdown, worst impact on these states, Hindustan Times (May 16, 2020 09:13 IST).
 F.M. Nirmala Sitharaman announces Rs.1.7 lakh crore relief package for poor, M.economictimes.com, last visited last on 9th August, 2020).
 https://www.icrisat.org/double-burden-of-covid-19-declining-livelihood-opportunities-and aspiration-failure-among-poor-people/ ( last visited last on 9th August, 2020).
 The Epidemic Disease Act, (Government of India) 1897 Act NO. 3 OF 18971. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/5440/1/epidemic_diseases_act%2C_1977.pdf