UPSC Mains General Studies Paper – 1 Mains 2020Poverty and Developmental Issues
Structure of the Question
- In Introduction,
- Write how Covid-19 is more than a health crisis.
- In Body,
- Substantiate how inequality and poverty is growing by giving data by International Bodies like WEF, UNDP, ILO etc.
- Steps taken to minimize the socio-economic crisis imposed by Covid-19
- Conclude by giving positive and futuristic suggestions.
The COVID-19 pandemic was unprecedented. From the perspective of the economy both rural and urban areas have been impacted adversely. According to the Oxfam report 2019, In India the top 1% hold 51.53% of the national wealth, while the remaining 99% make do with almost 48%. However, the Inequality Virus Report, released by Oxfam International, has found that the Covid-19 pandemic deeply increased the existing inequalities in India and around the world.
Impact of the Pandemic on Class Inequalities & Poverty
- A new study from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has found that an additional 207 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty by 2030 due to the severe long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic, bringing the total number of the world’s extremely poor to more than a billion.
- According to the World Economic Forum, Higher-paid workers are working from home while lower-paid blue-collar workers typically do not have this option .The pandemic is increasing poverty and inequality between the rich who can afford to provide social safety nets, and the poor that do not have the capacity to do so.
- The unemployment rate among women rose from an already high 15% before Covid to 18%.
- The World Bank has noted that India is at risk of losing many of its hard-won gains against poverty. In its 2020 India Development Update, the World Bank noted that half of India’s population is vulnerable with “consumption levels precariously close” to the poverty line.
- The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that nearly 400 million workers in India’s informal economy are at risk of falling deeper into poverty.
- The UN World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organization also reported that “food insecurity is spiking as people lose their incomes and have to reduce consumption “.
- Gender inequality increasing: According to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, the already low labour participation rate for women has shrunk even further after the pandemic to 11% compared to 71% for men.
- Greatest migrants’ crisis: Repeated extension of the lockdown has caused economic devastation to workers in the informal economy as it has left them with no income, no food and no shelter. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that about 140 million people have lost jobs since the lockdown.
- Digital Inequality: The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) revealed two startling facts. One, only a little under a third of India’s school children are accessing online education—the only means available to students with schools shut down for the last seven months. Second, even fewer can take live online classes.
In order to combat the ill effects of Covid-19, the government has launched PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana and Atma-Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. Growing inequality is neither good for society nor the economy. It leads to greater fissures, more violence and undermines democracy and democratic processes. Government can make the Public Distribution System universal (so that no poor goes hungry), expanding rural jobs guarantee schemes and starting a similar urban jobs guarantee scheme.
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