Because of the raging pandemic of coronavirus, a total of 21 days lockdown has been implemented and put forth in action in India. The citizens are troubled with the thought whether this lockdown will go beyond 21 days or not. The Prime Minister had addressed the Nation on 24th March, 2020 and implemented the 21 days lockdown to come in action from 25th March, 2020. The lockdown should end by 14th April, but the preparation central government is doing speculates that the lockdown can go beyond 21 days and can continue for a period of 3 months.
The corona virus spread continues all over the country. And the number of cases is rising each day. The public is facing difficulties while storing the essentials due to the large demand of supplies not being available. Another problem is that of workers leaving their homes on foot because the lockdown has put them off their daily earnings and there is shortage of transport services.
Government announces three month specific relief packages:
The Finance Minister on 27th March, 2020 announced a relief package of Rs. 1.70 lakh crore. Nirmala Sitharaman made announcements relating to providing free gas cylinders, providing financial assistance to farmers, further to which talks of employment provident fund was also stipulated for the employees.
It is pertinent to note here that all this has been prepared keeping in mind for a longer lockdown. The Central Government has not confirmed this data yet. But the approach offering relief has relaxed the requirements under various statutes and the packages provided are to help the farmers, workers in unorganized sectors and the poor.
- Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY): This Yojana was announced by the Prime Minister in 2014 and in the wake of pandemic, various packages have been announced now. Under this package, the government will provide 5kg of wheat/rice and 1kg of pulses free every month for the next three months. The 204 million women who are Jan Dhan account holders will get Rs. 500 per month for the next three months.
- Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana: The Finance Minister Smt. Niramla Sitharaman announced Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor to help them fight the battle against Coronavirus. The Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health workers would be covered under the special insurance Scheme. Any health professional, who while treating Covid-19 patients, meet with some accident, they would be compensated with an amount of Rs 50 lakh under the scheme. Gas cylinders to 8 crore poor families are set to be provided for the next three months for free. The government has also proposed to pay 24% of their monthly wages into their provident fund for the next three months.
- The Reserve Bank of India has come forth with the great EMI relief wherein a moratorium of three months of EMIs on all outstanding loans has been announced on 27th March, 2020. The statement says: "All commercial, regional, rural, NBFCs and small finance banks are being permitted to allow 3-month moratorium on payment of instalments in respect of all term loan EMIs outstanding on March 31."
The imposed lockdown has been seen in countries around the globe including USA, Japan, Germany and France who have announced big stimulus packages as well. Several other countries are trying to infuse money into their markets to regain a control over their economy. Depending on how the cases worsen each day, significant amount of days of lockdown is vital in order to curb the spread.
Another provision in the on-going nationwide lockdown and companies asking their employees to work-from home has been made. Reliance has come with a high-speed broadband plan with 10 Mbps with unlimited internet (100GB at high speed, thereafter unlimited at 1 Mbps), in geographically viable locations, without any service charges, for a period of 30 days.
In his speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken about continuing the social distancing for 21 days and abiding by the norms needed in order to curb the spread. Speculating the provisions made by the government for a period of three months makes one wonder the longevity of the lockdown lasting.
Author - Dyuti Pandya