The Price Paid to The Lockdown

Bhubaneswar: The Covid-19 pandemic had entered into India last year 2020. The pandemic had already spreaded it’s infectious virus in few other naboughring countries including China and America till the time it came to India. As it had already shown it’s brutality by claiming many lives in other countries, the government of India declared a nation wide lockdown as a precautionary measure to prevent the virus. This lockdown was retained for 68 days all across the country. Even though the state governments are still adopting the formula of shutdown and lockdown as the only one measure to prevent the virus and the spread of the second wave , the Annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) published in 2019-2020 indicates the amount of losses the country ‘s economy has faced in the course of last year’s lockdown and shutdown. The devastating condition and plight of the migrant labourers due to the sudden imposition of lockdown is known to everyone. Therefore during the above mentioned time it is mentioned in the PLFS Report 2020-21, that the urban employment rate in 2019 had increased to 8.9 percent whereas in 2020 it rose upto 20.8 percent. But as there’s no mention of the rural employment details in the survey report so it fails to give a complete picture of the employment crisis in the nation. But the recently published annual report is giving a clear picture of the impact of lockdown on the scenario of unemployment as well the plight of migrant workers after returning to their native villages.

According to the data, from April-June 2019 to April-June 2020, the urban employment has reduced to 11. 5 million whereas the rural employment had increased to 14.67 million. In 2019-20 there has been an unprecedented rise in rural employment in agricultural sector. Many of the labourers had to face a sudden depletes in their wages. People who were self employed bore the worst brunt of the lockdown during the time of April-May 2020, even though every sectors and industries jad suffered the heat. In short, the unorganised sector has gone through a tremendous shrink. If the data of employment rate from the initial periods of 2019-20 is studied , it would be hard to foresee the later conditions. This phenomenon projects a clear improvement in the work/labour participation rate contradicting the data on the constant reducing employment rate. This discrepancies create nothing but an ambiguous idea about the labour markets. Presently the risk factors in the Indian labour market are difficult to be reflected and resolved as articulated by the current Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data. For the sake of social security, unemployment is not an option for the people of such countries which have regulated necessary arrangements to create employment. The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the people from a flourishing urban economy to the less generating rural economic spheres. In reality it is also reflected through a sharp fall in the per head earnings of the agricultural labourer. The income of the agricultural workers has been reduced to 1.02 lakhs in 2019-20 from 1.18 lakhs in 2018-19. The implemenation of MGNREGA in the rural areas especially for the migrant labourers who have returned back home also depicts the similar picture.

The PLFS data is not available after the duration of April-June 2020. Neither of reports old ir new have published any data or information on the rural labour market. But the information found in the PLFS are as per the expectations. The development curtailed in the national economy is seemingly insufficient owing to achieve a flourishing future in Indian economy. The tormenting impacts of the pandemic is inviting a more adverse situation in indian economy where the government is going to put an extra burden of taxes on people without providing much financial incentives.

by: Dr. Sarmistha Kabi