As coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread, all education institutes including anganwadis were shut across the country in mid-March. Since auxiliary nurse midwife (ANMs, a village-level female health worker) were involved in COVID duties, immunisation also suffered. Several children could not get supplementary nutrition under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) of the Indian government which provides food, preschool education, primary healthcare, immunization, health check-up and referral services to children under 6 years of age and their mothers.
There are more than 146 million farmers in the country, as recorded in the latest Agriculture Census 2015-16 of the Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare published in 2019. This number has increased from 138.35 million in 2010-11. The highest number of farmers (operational holders) are in Uttar Pradesh (23.82 million) followed by Bihar (16.41 million), Maharashtra (15.29 million), Madhya Pradesh (10.00 million), Karnataka (8.68 million), Andhra Pradesh (8.52 million), Tamil Nadu (7.94 million), Rajasthan (7.66 million), Kerala (7.58 million), etc.
In a first-of-its-kind national survey, Gaon Connection interviewed rural residents to understand the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on their lives and livelihoods in rural India. We interviewed people to understand the challenges they faced in accessing foodgrains, including the public distribution system (PDS). This survey, conducted across 179 districts in 23 states of the country, has thrown up some important findings.
The implementation of a nationwide lockdown since March 25 hit a severe blow to the work of all sections of the society as most economic activities came to a standstill. With no work and no wages, poor families suffered the maximum brunt. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005 is meant to support rural families in such distressing times. The Union government also made announcements around using MGNREGA to provide work and income support to the needy families during the lockdown. And these works were excluded from the lockdown, but had to strictly follow physical distancing norms.
Suddenly these invisibles -- millions of labour migrants– became visible as they started to undertaken long journeys, over hundreds of kilometres, to return from cities to their villages, their homes. In a first-of-its-kind national survey, Gaon Connection interviewed rural residents, including these migrant workers, to understand the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on their lives and livelihoods in rural India. This survey, conducted across 179 districts in 23 states of the country, has thrown up some important findings.