Over 300 economists and concerned citizens have said the government’s financial aid package for the Covid-19 crisis is inadequate and advocated a Rs 6,000 monthly allowance for three months to each Jan Dhan Yojana account holder.
The Indian Society of Labour Economists(ISLE) has issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding 10kg free cereals per head per month for the working class over the next three months.
Among the signatories are the economists Deepak Nayar, Ravi Srivastava, Prabhat Patnaik, Jayati Ghosh, Ashok Gulati, Madhura Swaminathan, Lord Meghnad Desai and Sukhadeo Thorat.
Social activist Bezwada Wilson and Vrijesh Upadhyay, general secretary of the RSS-affiliated worker body BMS, have endorsed the statement.
Last week, the government had announced a financial package of Rs 1.7 lakh crore, which included a monthly sum of Rs 500 for the 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders.
Economist Ravi Srivastava said the package was not good enough and that all the 38 crore Jan Dhan account holders, men and women, should receive a Rs 6,000 monthly allowance.
The letter has also demanded that all public-sector entities issue immediate orders for the retention of contract employees and the payment of full wages to them.
It has asked the Centre to work out a scheme to compensate the unorganised and MSME sectors for the payment of wages to contract and temporary employees during the lockdown.
It has urged the central and state governments to make whatever ex gratia payments are necessary to ensure that no vulnerable individual or household remains outside the social protection net created to cope with the current crisis.
The letter has highlighted that large numbers of urban migrant workers have been left without employment or shelter and have returned, or are looking to return, to their villages with their families.
It has estimated that of the 40 to 50 million seasonal wage earners in the informal economy, a large proportion are without employment. These figures will increase if the lockdown is extended, the letter says.