ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Guaranteeing Employment in Rural India during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The role of the state in guaranteeing employment in rural areas in the wake of a pandemic-induced lockdown is analysed. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the largest ever public funded programme for wage employment in India, is instrumental in bringing social security in rural areas during the pandemic period. However, the adequacy of employment provided was not at the scale it needed. The problem compounded with income fluctuations and regression of consumption expenditure of rural casual workers during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic which has been experienced globally since January 2020 resulted in unprecedented health hazards, economic shocks, and disruption to the lives and livelihoods of people all over the world. India experienced more destructive consequences of the second wave of the pandemic in April 2021, after the first wave in 2020. By the end of the first week of April 2022, it had more than one million active cases of COVID-19 and was the nation with the second highest COVID-19 cases worldwide. By the end of April 2021, India had more than 2.5 million active cases with 3,00,000 new cases and 2,000 deaths everyday. During the first week of May 2021, the number of new cases per day increased to more than 4,00,000 with over 3,500 deaths. India reported the highest number of 4,14,188 cases in a day on 7 May 2021. After attaining the peak, the number of active cases started declining to 24% on an average daily number of cases by the end of June 2021. India reported 3,44,66,598 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on 18 November 2021 with 10,197 fresh cases, though the active cases declined to 1,28,555, which is the lowest since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

The Government of India (GoI) announced a sudden 21-day nationwide lockdown on 24 March 2020. This was further extended to 68 days in different phases. Lockdown was imposed on all commercial and social activities other than the supply of essential commodities. According to the Stringency Index of Oxford University, India’s lockdown was one of the harshest lockdowns imposed worldwide during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (Gupta et al 2021).

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Updated On : 6th Jul, 2023
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