Amid the soaring pandemic Covid-19, while all the peculiar attention and aids have been diverted to organised sectors to society, the grievances of street vendors and hawkers have not been heard who are agonising in the gyre of penury.
The rage of a pandemic has brutally hit the vendors including selling all sorts of foods to clothes (Sabzi wala’s, juice sellers, feriwalas) who merely earn their bread and butter by striding on the local streets, and roads irrespective of the lingering scorching sun over their heads, or torrential rains.
Some states have still prohibited the street vendors from operating; The Maharashtra Government announced lately to restrict the vendors and hawkers as it is not possible to regulate them.
On the contrary, the Delhi government has helped them to mitigate their plight by allowing them to operate officially from 10 AM to 8 AM, with the warning to follow the strict rules of social distancing, wearing masks, and avoid spitting on roads except on containment zones.
In India, Street vending comprises 14 per cent of total (non-agricultural) urban informal employment. Indeed, they play a crucial role in our society; they earn their livelihood by toiling every day for us, and to collect meagre financial resources.
To protect their rights, the Parliament enacted the Street Vendors Act in 2014, which seeks to provide social security and livelihood rights to street vendors. However, the act has its origins in the ‘Street Vendors Policy’ 2004.
Earlier this month, A saviour Vikas Khanna came up with the mission of inadvertently providing rations and supplies to 10 million street vendors and their families.
Moreover, he has also been working on delivering two million meals, food, clothes, essential supplies like mosquito repellents, candles and matches to people in flood-ravaged areas of Bihar and Assam, particularly in the remote areas, as sources reported.
Khanna also stated that criticising governments or foundations for their response to the crisis is an absolutely wrong way to look at it right now because these are very unpredictable circumstances. Nobody knows how to deal with it.
He also added, “These crises are not crises which can be managed by NGOs and governments alone. The crisis is a testimony of the human grit. At this time of severe crisis, we need individuals who can share a little from what they have.”
Indeed, the pandemic has left us in a lurch; we cannot deny the substantial problem cannot be shouldered only by government or NGO. Specifically, it is the need of the hour, citizens should be generous towards them, instead of wrangling and petty bargainings.
However, the government needs to adopt desperate measures for them to safeguard their livelihood and to alter the infirmity caused by the pandemic.
Written by Yogita Malhotra
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