Hunger stalks India’s poor in pandemic double blow

Rasheeda Jaleel lives in fear she may not be able to feed her seven children as millions of Indian families are forced into poverty by a new coronavirus wave.

She, her husband Abdul, and the children already survive on just one meal a day.

The virus has killed 160,000 in two months, overwhelmed hospitals and shut businesses in India. Experts warn another crisis is looming, with rising levels of hunger among poor Indians already reeling from a first lockdown last year.

About 230 million Indians fell into poverty — defined as living on less than 250 pesos per day — in the first year of the pandemic, according to a study by a Bangalore university.

Over 7.3 million jobs were lost in April alone, according to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy. That means more pain in a country where 90 percent of the workforce is in the informal sector with no social safety net, and where millions do not qualify for emergency government rations.

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