More than 68 percent rural Indians faced 'high' to 'very high' monetary difficulty and about 23 percent borrowed money during the lockdown, says a survey
Despite facing a monetary crisis due to a strict lockdown, people in rural India were mostly satisfied with the manner the central government as well as state governments handled the COVID-19 pandemic, said a survey.
While 74 percent rural Indians surveyed were satisfied with the manner in which the central government handled the COVID-19 pandemic, about 78 percent were also satisfied with the steps taken by their respective state government, found a nationwide survey on the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on rural India by Gaon Connection.
However, more than 68 percent of the respondents faced “high” to “very high” monetary difficulty, and about 23 percent borrowed money during the lockdown, the survey said.
About 8 percent of the respondents sold a valuable possession, 7 percent mortgaged jewellery, and 5 percent sold or mortgaged land, the survey said.
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"78 percent respondents saw their work coming to a 'complete standstill' or 'standstill to a large extent' during the lockdown. Skilled workers and manual (unskilled) labourers were hit the hardest. Work shut down completely for 60 percent skilled workers and 64 percent manual labourers," the survey of 25,300 respondents across 20 states and three Union territories said.
Only 20 percent respondents said they got work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) during the two-month period.
Chhattisgarh reported the highest percentage of such households at 70 percent, followed by Uttarakhand (65 percent) and Rajasthan (59 percent). Gujarat and Union territories of Jammu & Kashmir-Ladakh reported the lowest employment under MGNREGA at 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
The survey found that 23 percent migrant workers walked back to their homes during the lockdown. However, more than 33 percent migrant workers said they want to go back to the cities to find work.
More than half the farmers managed to harvest their crops in time during the lockdown, but only one-fourth could sell it in time.
According to the survey, 71 percent ration card-owning households said they received wheat or rice from the government during the lockdown.
"Of the 17 percent citizens who do not own ration cards, only 27 percent said they received wheat or rice from the government. Seventy one percent households surveyed reported a drop in the total monthly household income during the lockdown period," the survey found.
The poor were hit the hardest - 75 percent poor families and 74 percent lower class households suffered a fall in income during the lockdown.
“Rural India has not been part of the national media narrative in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. This survey offers powerful insights into how rural India dealt with this crisis, and what it plans to do ahead, including questions like, will they return to cities? Will they change spending patterns?” said Neelesh Misra, founder of Gaon Connection, a rural media platform.The survey was based on face-to-face interviews with 25,300 respondents, and was carried out in 179 districts across 20 states and three Union territories. The survey was designed, and data analysed by New Delhi-based Centre for Study of Developing Societies (Lokniti-CSDS).