The report was released in a Hakki Pikki (tribe of forest dwellers) colony of Channahalli in Mandya district in Karnataka. The report details study of economic, social and political effect lockdown has had on poor workers. It was heartening to see the report being released in an area where the most affected people, the tribals reside.
“Our lives were already difficult and this lockdown has acted as a death blow. We are facing a lot of difficulties as we do not have proper houses; the rains have started and we are getting drenched in rain, when we asked the taluk administration to provide us with minimum tarpaulin, they ask us to provide land registration documents. How can we get the docuements when we don’t have houses? Asks Hakki Pikki leader Mr. Akki. He expressed anguish saying ‘we are not strangers to difficulties but if we can’t work then why should we continue to live?’
‘Just words don’t solve anything’. To protect these poor workers from this predicament, the government has to take concrete steps. Hence, the study report recommends that the super-rich of the country be levied with 2% corona tax on their wealth. The study also insist that they can recover from their predicament only if a minimum amount that is required for basic livelihood to be done through direct money transfer to all BPL card accounts of these poor workers.
Other important recommendations to the government-
- Immediate supply of other necessary food grains required for livelihood apart from rice and wheat.
- A system to be placed wherein those people who do not have ration cards and migrant workers be issued temporary ration cards.
- Roadside vendors, taxi-cab drivers, auto drivers, and employees of small and micro enterprises be given relief money(subsidy) as they have been out of business for more than two months.
- Measures should be taken to provide adequate healthcare of poor and common people.
- During the lockdown, a ban on the sale of alcohol was put in place temporarily and the government could have worked on putting total prohibition in place but while the lockdown continued and amidst the danger of corona, the government started sale of alcohol. This should be stopped. The government should have a consultation with activists and experts about a scientific approach towards total prohibition and work on it.
- Special priority to be given to revive the rural economy; additional money should be released for MGNREGS.
- ‘Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme’ should be started.
- The survey and registration of migrant workers should take place.
- A special package be announced for small and medium enterprises.
Siddaraju, Chandrashekhar, Varadaraju, Jyoti of Karnataka JanaShakti, and others participated in the launch of the study report in Mandya District of Karnataka.
The article was first published in naanugauri.com. It is translated into English by Rajashekhar Akki