Supporting the Underprivileged in the time of the Global Pandemic: Indus Action

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Indus Action

Supporting the Underprivileged in the time of the Global Pandemic: Indus Action | Rapid Response strategy developed to mitigate socio – economic vulnerabilities

New Delhi. April 24, 2020. The global pandemic due to the SARS CoV-2 virus has consumed our daily lives, creating a new normal and world order. Undoubtably, the hardest hit world-wide are the underprivileged.

To achieve the first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of zero poverty, 1 million people willhave to lift themselves out of poverty every week across the world. While India had lifted 271 million citizens out ofpoverty, the fastest rate in the last decade, the Covid-19 public health crisis continues to undo this progress and is likely topush the last half billion citizens back into extreme poverty while keeping 900 million+ Indians below the poverty line.

Inresponse to the pandemic, the Government of India has announced welfare packages, along with an economic stimulus package to absorb the shocks to the informal and small businesseconomy. India’s own Marshall Plan to ensure economic resilience of workers and small businesses isestimated to be a fiscal stimulus of 5 lakh crores.Almost 50% of this spending is unlikely to reach the targetedhouseholds, due to gaps in state capacity. Access gaps of migrant workers to food andhousing safety infrastructure is insurmountable, as we have seen from recent migrant protests all over the country. To ensure 100% realization of this safetynet for the last half billion citizens, the speed and efficacy of last mile delivery is the need of the hour.

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Indus Action (IA) has developed a Rapid Response strategy to mitigate the socio-economicvulnerabilities of less fortunate citizens due to the pandemic. The main focus is toensure that citizens are able to avail emergency social protection in terms of cash and in-kind transfersthereby mitigating the economic shock to their livelihoods. This is being done by pro-activeoutbound calling to citizens by over 2000+ motivated volunteers to ensure last mile deliveryof food, health and direct benefit transfers over the past two weeks. Over 1,000 daily calls are being made in states including Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Bihar, Gujarat, MP,Maharashtra, UP, Rajasthan and Delhi to a current database of over 4.5 lac disadvantaged families.

Additionally, a national helpline has been set up to address citizen grievances across 19 States.

The solution includes a growing network of 2,000+ civic champions, creation of a national dashboard to reflect the progress, daily data analytics reports and fortnightly governance reports.

General Trends:

Need/ Metric Average* Highest Lowest
Lack of Food 32% Bihar – 87% TS – 12%
Need for Medicines 13% Kerala – 37% GJ – 1%
Unemployment post lockdown 42% Delhi – 59% UP – 31%
No access to Welfare Schemes 30% Bihar – 73% Chhattisgarh – 8%

* Number of respondents per State varies

  1. Access to ration is limited and food being sold is overpriced
  2. People are not sure if ‘Jan Dhan’ accounts have been credited with money due
  3. Landlords have not eased rent dues
  4. Application for pension by the elderly is a challenge
  5. Distribution of ration is seeing an imbalance with some regions receiving some essentials, while some receiving just rice and salt
  6. Access to fresh vegetables and cooking oil is an issue
  7. Cab drivers working for private players cannot avail benefits applicable to cab/taxi drivers
  8. Severe lack of awareness of Welfare Schemes such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Garib Kalyan Yojana, Kissan Samman Yojana, etc. in which citizens can avail Direct Benefit Transfers

Given the fact that there has been an immense outflow of generosity in terms of cash and kind from citizens across the country, the volunteers associated with Indus Action’s Rapid Response strategy work to connect the donors and the receivers. Due to containment/lockdown in many parts of the country, free and easy movement is not always possible, however necessary police permissions have been taken and keen logistic arrangements ensure that the nearest donor connects to the receiver; be it for food, medical or other required supplies.

Indus Action’s mission of moving 1 million+ families irreversibly out of poverty in India by 2030 is supported byMichael and Susan Dell Foundation, Ernst and Young Foundation, Cisco, Draper Richards KaplanFoundation, Uber India and Obama Foundation, among others. This mission is driven forward by a full-timeteam of 55 public policy professionals across 19 States.

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