Mint Business News - Official Channel

Amid pandemic, Modi govt shifts focus to schemes for poor

Lately, Centre announced a flurry of schemes to aid the poor who have been the most affected due to the coronavirus pandemic


New Delhi: From reaching out to street vendors to construction of affordable houses in rural areas, the National Democratic Alliance-led Central government has stepped up its initiatives for the poor who are the worst affected from the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached out to the beneficiaries of the micro credit scheme - PM Street Vendors’ Atmanirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) scheme from Madhya Pradesh, inaugurated 1.75 lakh houses constructed under the PM Awas Yojana – Gramin, inaugurated three petroleum projects in Bihar and reached out for the sustainable development of the fisheries sector.

On Tuesday, PM Modi will inaugurate and lay the foundation stone for seven urban infrastructure projects in Bihar, which include four water supply projects, two sewerage treatment projects and one for riverfront development.

This comes at a time when the extended lockdown due to Covid-19 saw large scale migration from cities. The impact has had an impact on businesses, jobs and incomes across sections with a major impact on the poor.

In his address at the inauguration of PMAY-Gramin, PM Modi highlighted that beneficiaries would also be getting facilities of the governments other schemes including construction of toilets under Swachh Bharat, cooking gas under Ujjwala Yojana and electricity connection under Saubhagya Yojana.

“Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana was introduced with a completely new thought. In this, transparency is given precedence and a scientific and transparent system is put in place from the selection of beneficiaries to the construction of houses. Earlier, the poor used to run after the government to get benefits from several schemes but now government has to approach people, identify them and give facilities to them," PM Modi said at the inauguration of the housing scheme in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday.

According to Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), urban unemployment in India crept up to 9.83% in August as against 9.15% in July. According to the data, roughly one in every 10 person in urban areas cannot find work. Highlighting the extent of the economic damage inflicted by the pandemic, India’s economy contracted by a record 23.9% in the June quarter of the financial year.

Experts say that the focus on improving livelihoods is the most important during a crisis situation.

“The most important issue is livelihood of people. There needs to be clear and substantive announcements that are awaited from the government at a time when employment is at its lowest and the GDP is suffering. This is a crisis situation. The steps and schemes being inaugurated are larger programs. This is a time when something needs to be done for the poor," said Subrata Mukherjee, a political analyst and former political science professor at Delhi university.