India’s Policy Response to Covid-19 and the Gendered Impact on Urban Informal Workers in Delhi NCR: Introductory Brief
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A year into the pandemic, the devastating impacts have disrupted social and economic infrastructure and have furthermarginalized millions of people. In many ways, the epicentre of the pandemic was felt among the urban informal workers in the country, particularly women. Already existing at the edge of precarity with respect to livelihood, social security, and shelter - all of which lay on the spectrum of informality - the humanitarian crisis brought about by the pandemic further widened the fault lines of their pre-existing social and economic vulnerabilities. As the government urged people to stay at home and the economic cogwheels of the country came to a grinding halt, India witnessed one of the worst recessions since independence, with the economy shrinking by a historic 7.3% in the first year of COVID. Overnight, urban informal workers across the country lost their jobs and incomes. As a result of the loss in livelihood and income, it is estimated that about 400 million people, working in the informal economy in India, were at the “risk of falling deeper into poverty”. During this period, the number of people living below the minimum wage threshold of Rs 375 per day had increased by 230 million.