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No regular income for 74% low-earning families in Ahmedabad since lockdown, finds IIM survey

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A rickshaw puller wearing a mask dozes off during a COVID-19 lockdown
A rickshaw puller wearing a preventive mask catches a wink during the Covid-19 lockdown | Representational image | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint


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New Delhi: Nearly 74 per cent households of around 500 surveyed families in Ahmedabad were not earning regular incomes since the lockdown while 44 per cent said their existing food supply will last less than a week, according to a survey conducted by the Indian Institute of Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Conducted between 29 March and 9 April by a group of volunteers, including students and staff from IIM-A, the survey is aimed at identifying the difficulties faced by low-income families during the nationwide lockdown initiated on 25 March to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The study also found that 40 per cent of these households were facing urgent issues related to food or medicine supply.

The participants belonged to families of mostly bus/auto drivers, daily wage workers, plumbers, rickshaw pullers, food or vegetable stall owners and cleaners. Around 52 per cent of these people had at least one child enrolled in a government school or an Anganwadi centre.


Also read: Amul to SpiceJet to Railways — Supply chain heroes are making sure India runs in lockdown


No regular income, urgent need of supplies

Of the 74 per cent who have not been earning regular incomes, many also said they would not be able to pay next months’ rent, electricity bills or school fees, notes the survey.

One of the participants has been quoted as saying: “I have no job and have withdrawn all my money from the bank to feed my family of six people.”

Another said: “Due to lack of food and essential items, stores have increased prices and the family doesn’t have enough money to purchase.”

Some also reported that food kits provided by the government and NGOs only come in limited numbers, forcing many to go hungry.

94% unaware of cash transfers 

Less than six per cent of 216 households in the survey were aware of money transfers to their accounts by the government under the Covid-19 relief package. The survey states that this could be the result of either transfers not being made or households not having the means to reach banks or ATMs.

It also noted that many daily wage earners who had the APL (Above Poverty Line) ration cards were unable to get food because their cards did not have the NFSA (national food security act) stamp. The places to get these stamps have been shut due to the lockdown. NFSA stamps distinguish the priority households to get ration under guidelines set by the National Food Security Act.

Some were also unable to get ration because their cards had addresses of their villages or was being used for someone who cannot visit the ration shop physically (mainly due to a disability). Others were unable to get ration because the shops in their vicinity were shut or had low supply.

“The first three-four people in a queue get a significant bulk of the ration…post that the ration shops close and other people in the line have to return empty-handed,” the report quotes a survey participant.

Around 80 per cent of those whose children are enrolled in government schools admitted that they had not received any food-related assistance from the Anganwadis or institutes since the lockdown.


Also read: Understand the method in Covid-19’s madness. India doesn’t need complete lockdown


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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