According to a recent survey conducted by the Indo Global Social Service Society (IGSSS), civil society organisations working with informal employees, settlements, the first phase in the two-year SVANidhi scheme, which started in June 2020, was poorly implemented and had a limited effect on the most vulnerable section of road vendors. These are street sellers that fit into the plan C and D categories—they have no sales certificates that would allow them to operate without the police or local authorities threatening to intimidate or remove them.
Up to 75% of the vendors polled belonged to the vulnerable C and D categories, and just 11% of those polled had got the Rs 10,000 loan. The survey comprised over 1,600 respondents from 15 cities across 10 states and was performed right before the pandemic’s second wave, which produced a livelihood crisis for individuals working in the informal sector. The street sellers in categories C and D work on a daily basis. Previous research on the socio-economic profile of vendors (some studies focused solely on women vendors) in various cities has found that the majority of street sellers, particularly the vulnerable ones, are unemployed migrant workers from neighbouring rural districts or states. Their daily transactions entail crowded marketplaces and hand-to-hand transactions, both of which have been severely hampered by the lockdowns.
Poor vendor knowledge of the programme, complex online processes, bank delays, and an over-reliance on urban local authorities for documentation—all of these problems, according to the IGSSS research, have hampered the system’s reach, particularly among vulnerable street sellers.
Street vendors in India, estimated at 10 million, account for about 11% of urban workers and perform a range of roles in city life. The vending economy generates about Rs 80 crore per day, and each street entrepreneur or vendor employs, collaborates, or works for three others.
The SVANidhi initiative is intended towards half of India’s estimated 10 million street vendors, or 5 million. According to the scheme’s website, the recipients are known as “hawkers, thelewala, rehriwala, theliphadwala, and so on in various locations and circumstances.” They sell vegetables, fruits, street food, tea, pakodas, bread, eggs, clothing, footwear, artisan products, books/stationery, and so on, as well as services such as “barbershops, cobblers, pan shops, laundry.”
The IGSSS study, on the other hand, discovered that 62 percent of all respondents had never been included in the mandated street vendor survey, which is conducted jointly by municipal corporations and the Town Vending Committee (TVS), established under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, and comprised of vendors (40 percent ) and corporation officials. The survey is used to provide suppliers with the identification papers required for loan applications. Only 25% of respondents had some sort of identities, such as vendor certificates, vendor ID cards, or survey slips. In most cases, hawker unions such as the National Hawkers Federation, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Hawkers Union, and Ekta Hawkers Union have given temporary survey papers or membership cards to sellers. They lacked, however, the municipal corporation’s and the TVC’s vending certificates.
Nearly 40% of those polled were unaware of the loan programme. In addition, 51% of all vendor respondents said they had not sought a loan via the plan. Inability to repay loans, lack of knowledge about how or where to apply for the loan or its qualifying requirements, and lack of support with the application procedure were among the reasons given. These findings come from larger cities and state capitals where NGOs, civil society organisations, and hawker unions are active in guiding, organising, and assisting street sellers to take advantage of such programmes. There is no information on merchants in small towns and cities.