As per the IANS-CVoter Issues That Dominated India in 2021, almost 76 percent Indians said in March 2020 they have ration/food for less than a week in their households. That’s how bad things were when Covid hit and a lockdown commenced.
As of today, only 17 percent said the same in a CVoter tracker. During this period, 800 million poor Indians got free food grains.
In November 2021, the government extended the free 5 kg food grains scheme for all members of a poor household till March 2022.
In a November 2021 CVoter survey, 67 percent Indians said their family’s financial condition had stayed the same or worsened during the pandemic and they remained worried about their financial future. This must be a contender for being the largest welfare program in the history of the world. According to various estimates, the government has spent in excess of Rs 200,000 crore to try and ensure that no poor Indian goes to sleep hungry.
Corruption and leakages have of course cheated many poor families of their due, but there has been no credible report from anywhere in India of any starvation deaths. In times of such an unprecedented crisis with a still inefficient official welfare delivery system, that is no mean achievement.
But there is a darker side revealed by the number 800 million. It shows how tens of millions of Indian families dance on the edges of hunger, poverty and destitution. The promised New India is still far away.