Prashnam reported in these columns last week that nearly one in every six families in rural parts of six northern Indian states had lost someone to Covid-19. They blamed the Narendra Modi government as well as their own fate for the catastrophe. According to The Print news, many individuals urged them to look into the impact of Covid-19 on livelihoods and what people need from the government in these really difficult times.
They polled around 15,000 respondents in the same 967 rural constituencies as the previous study, spread throughout 229 districts in six states: Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. The sample was picked using a scientific, randomized, and stratified sampling procedure, as is customary.
People want a vaccination and a job right away
More people want the Modi government to provide an instant Covid vaccine than anything else. The second-highest demand was for a job for a member of their family. Surprisingly, cash was not as sought as a vaccine or a job. The increase in vaccine demand is consistent with the findings of a prior investigation of massive but unreported Covid mortality in these same areas. This is a significant discovery because the Modi government has changed its vaccine strategy to acquire directly and distribute to the states rather than using the current quota system of procurement for the Centre, states, and the private sector.
There was a considerable disparity in replies amongst the states polled. The need for a job in Uttar Pradesh is larger than in other states, although the vaccine is in great demand in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. One-third of those polled claimed that at least one member of their household had lost their job owing to the lockdown in the last six months. Remember that these six states have over 100 million families. Thirty percent of families affected by job losses is a staggering figure, and it may explain why the demand for MGNREGA work at minimum wage is at an all-time high.
Other employment studies, such as those performed by CMIE and Azim Premji University, have revealed unusually substantial job losses as a result of the Covid lockdown. Expectedly, bigger proportions (34%) of families who have lost a job want the government to provide them with work rather than cash or vaccines.
The poll clearly reveals the immense disaster that Covid-19 has imposed on our country in terms of lives and livelihoods. The Modi government’s strong demand for vaccines may be an indication that people prefer to be relieved of their misery as quickly as possible rather than be supplied with economic assistance. Of course, most individuals want all three (vaccine, employment, and money), but because the survey required respondents to rank these desires, the vaccine came out on top.
This survey received 14,516 responses from adult Indians. They came from 229 districts in six states: Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. 72 percent were male and 28 percent female. 47 percent were youth (<40 years), 38 percent middle-aged, and 15 percent seniors (>60).
(News: The Print)