COVID traps millions of Indians in a vicious cycle of hardship

In last year’s lockdown, about 100 million people lost their jobs in India. After restrictions were lifted, around 15 percent failed to find employment by the end of 2020 — including 47 percent of female workers, a study by an Indian university found.

Many who returned to work had to settle for lower pay, leaving them more vulnerable when the second wave hit. Abdul Jaleel turned to peddling a rickshaw to feed his family after his construction work dried up during a fresh Delhi lockdown.

Meanwhile an estimated 100 million Indians, including the Jaleels, have no ration cards to give them access to government food aid.

The Right to Food organisation has been campaigning for emergency food supplies to be given to the needy, even if they do not have ration cards.

With the pandemic unravelling years of poverty reduction, experts warn that many could remain trapped in a vicious cycle of hardship even after lockdowns are lifted.

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