• A report titled ‘State of Working India 2021: One Year of Covid­19’ brought out annually by Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment, Bengaluru has been released.
  • The report covers the period March 2020 to December 2020, dwells on the impact of one year of Covid­-19 on employment, incomes, inequality and poverty.

Important points:

  • 100 million jobs were lost during the April-May 2020 lockdown.
  • Though most of these workers had found employment by June 2020, about 15 million remained out of work.
  • For an average household of four members, the monthly per capita income in October 2020 (Rs. 4,979) was still below its level in January 2020 (Rs. 5,989).
  • Monthly earnings of workers fell on an average by 17% during the pandemic, with self employed and informal salaried workers facing the highest loss of earnings.
  • Post-lockdown, nearly half of salaried workers had moved into informal work, either as self-employed (30%), casual wage (10%) or informal salaried (9%).
  • The bottom 20% of households earned nothing in the months of April and May 2020.
  • On the other hand, the top 10% suffered the least during the lockdown, and only lost about 20% of their February income during the lockdown months.
  • During the lockdown and in the post lockdown months, 61% of working men remained employed while 7% lost their job and did not return to work.
  • But in the case of women, only 19% remained employed while 47% suffered a permanent job loss, “not returning to work even by the end of 2020”.
  • The job loss and fall in earnings caused a large increase in poverty.
  • Households coped with the loss of income by decreasing their food intake, selling assets and borrowing informally from friends, relatives and money­lenders.
  • With 230 million falling below the national minimum wage threshold of Rs. 375 per day during the pandemic, poverty rate has “increased by 15 percentage points in rural and nearly 20 percentage points in urban areas”.


  • As India confronts the second wave and what is possibly its worst humanitarian crisis in recent years, urgent policy measures are needed to support an already beleaguered population.
  • The extra Public Distribution System (PDS) entitlements under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) need to be extended till the end of the year.
  • Cash transfers of Rs. 5,000 for three months to as many vulnerable households as can be reached with the existing digital infrastructure, including but not limited to Jan Dhan accounts
  • MGNREGA (Mahatma National Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act) has played a vital role and its allocation needs to be expanded.
  • A pilot urban employment programme can be launched in the worst hit districts, possibly focused on women workers.
  • A Covid-19 hardship allowance of Rs. 30,000 (Rs.5,000 per month for six months) should be announced for 2.5 million Anganwadi and ASHA workers who have been at the frontlines of the grassroots fight against the virus.


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