'Poverty-demic' in India: Shocking report reveals 23 crore Indians pushed into poverty in one year!

India has been reeling under the horrible hands of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly for two years now and while one part of the country sees the sunrise with hope, the other part still wakes up with more sufferings and ordeals from winning bread to meeting the basic requirements of life. The unprecedented financial distress and economic wreckage have pushed the country to witness a surge in the poverty, which in a way has become disheartening. 

The shocking report has revealed that 23 crore Indians are pushed into poverty in one year of the pandemic as the pandemic has let the country brace up 'Poverty-demic'. According to the report titled 'State of Working India 2021: One year of COVID-19', 23 crore Indians have been pushed into poverty in the past one year. The report was released by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the report has highlighted that these poverty-trodden families primarily belong to the informal sector. 

The NHRC has issued more advisories to various ministries and states on the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic faced by labourers and migrant informal sector workers including the workers working in food markets, street vendors, and laundromats mostly in rural or informal areas. The advisories include - right to mental health, identifying, releasing, and rehabilitating bonded labourers, and safeguarding the rights of informal workers during the pandemic. 

In a statement, NHRC said, "The NHRC, keeping in view the adverse effects of the pandemic on different sections of society, has issued three more advisories to the Center, states, and Union territories as part of its 2.0 series of COVID-19 pandemic advisories." The Human Rights body has observed that the issues that emerge during the pandemic have led to adverse mental health outcomes, particularly among the vulnerable groups. 

In a letter to the Secretaries of Union ministries of Health and Family Welfare, Labour and Unemployment, Women and Child Welfare, Chief Secretaries of states and administrators of Union Territories, NHRC's Chief Bimbadhar Pradhan has asked the states and ministries to implement its recommendations in the advisories. "With huge reverse migration in the first wave and disruptions in the agricultural value chains over the year, COVID-19 has impacted the rural economy and the livelihoods of informal and agricultural workers in rural areas too," the Human Rights body said in its statement. 

On the front of the advisory on right to mental health, the body has focused on ten crucial areas - access to mental healthcare, awareness, grievance redressal and review board, dissemination of information, extending the outreach of mental health support, support for special groups, suicide prevention, health insurance, media sensitivity in reporting, and promoting research. 

In the advisory on bonded labourers, the NHRC has given eleven specific recommendations to the Central and state governments. It has also underlined key recommendations including identifying, rescuing, preventing the bonded labourers, rehabilitation and repatriation, and legal aid to the district administrations. The Human Rights body has expressed its serious concern over the condition of informal workers. 

The NHRC has observed that most informal workers or unorganized sector workers, and migrants are gravely impacted in the wake of the suspension of the employment opportunities in the urban and rural areas due to lockdowns and restrictions. The statement said, "It has further noted that all evidence points to a deep economic crisis of job loss, reduced wages, shrinking of economy and manufacturing sector." 

The report from the NHRC had worryingly brought out the distressing face of our nation. The pandemic has pushed India to digest triple whammies - a health crisis, economic crisis, and migrant crisis. The pandemic has put India's fabric and tenacity into the real test and most of the populace are someway connected to any of these three crises and battling COVID-19 along with ordeals for driving their lives. The NHRC's report has alarmed the governments to concentrate on the grass-root people to rescue them from the crises. Until then, these people would go to bed with no sight of the dawn.