The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), an RSS-affiliate, on Sunday told the government to substantially increase funds for its rural employment guarantee scheme and extend financial support to the vulnerable sections in addition to free food grains.
In a resolution passed at its two-day national council meeting, the outfit also suggested that the government should consider providing specific stimulus to the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns, like construction, fishing and horticulture etc "in terms of soft loans".
It is a foregone conclusion that increasing health expenses and reduced employment opportunities have further worsened the economic situation of poorer households, increased poverty level and contributed to wealth disparities, the SJM said.
In this unprecedented difficult situation in the country, the SJM suggests consider and extend financial support to the vulnerable sections of the society in addition to free food grains, substantially increase the fund allocation for MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme) to support rural employment, a specific stimulus to sectors most affected by Corona virus-induced lockdowns i.e., construction, fishing, horticulture, etc. in terms of soft loans, it added.
The RSS-affiliate also suggested that the emergency credit line guarantee scheme should be extended for a few more months and its scope can be further expanded to other pandemic-hit sectors.
The government should announce a package for employment-linked incentives (ELI) to strengthen the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector, it said.
The SJM said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should clearly announce need-based moratoriums to suit every sector of the economy and direct banks for liberal monetary support.
The corporate and business houses should fully support to manage the difficult situation by liberal contribution for Covid relief, payment of salaries to employees without retrenchment and timely payment of dues to MSMEs, it said.
The private healthcare providers should realise that this is not the time for making profits, and ensure treatment at minimum cost, the outfit added.
The life of billions of people all over the world has been badly affected, since the outbreak of COVID-19, that is, the Chinese virus, the SJM said in a statement issued by its co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan.
Stringent lockdown measures have seriously impacted the world economy and that of Bharatiya economy, causing a major disruption in the fields such as aviation, tourism, retail, education, automotive, restaurant, and oil and gas sector, resulting in severe employee layoffs, the RSS-affiliate said.
India had braced the first wave of the pandemic outbreak last year and made some impressive recovery but the onset of a more severe second wave in April 2021 has wiped out the previous economic gains and dented the economic recovery, it said.
The SJM said the Union government has given more freedom to the state governments to take appropriate decisions based on the local situations like imposing lockdown, etc. unlike a centralised decision which happened last year.
This has allowed the agriculture, small-scale and heavy industry manufacturing sector to keep operating, the outfit said.
Nevertheless, 100 million jobs were lost during the nationwide April-May 2020 lockdown, and during May 2021, 15.3 million jobs were lost which hits an 18 per cent jobless rate in urban areas of Bharat. Unemployment has been more pronounced among young workers (15-24 Years age group) who failed to regain employment, it added.
The SJM termed as alarming the findings of the Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd in a recent report that said India's household savings dipped to 22.1 per cent of the GDP from 28.1 per cent during April-June 2020.
The depleting household savings and falling incomes will have an adverse effect on domestic consumption and health care of the family, which accounts for about 60 per cent of the GDP, apart from impacting capital formation, the outfit said.
The SJM said the government's relief measures like free rations, cash transfers, MGNREGA, PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi payments and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) have provided a soothing effect to the most vulnerable population from the pandemic in 2020.
SJM appreciates the central government's fiscal and stimulus policy response both Atmanirbhar Bharat Package as well as freely available liquidity of Rs 15,000 crore loan to the service sector announced on June 4, 2021, to tackle the present health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19, the outfit said.
However, the SJM firmly believes that the mayhem caused by the pandemic can be overcome only by the concerted efforts of every section of the society Let us all work together with mutual trust and help to put the country back to glory at the earliest, it added.
First Published: IST