Hungry, with no money, yet rural India backs Modi govt in Covid war: Study

A total of 25,371 respondents were interviewed between May 30 and July 16, 2020 for the survey
Though nearly 71 per cent of the rural household suffered a drop in their monthly incomes during the lockdown months as compared to pre-lockdown months and almost 35 per cent of families went without food the whole day on several occasions, an overwhelming majority were satisfied with the Modi government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, a recent survey said.

Seventy-four per cent of rural Indians are satisfied with the steps taken by the Modi government to fight Covid-19 pandemic and about 78 per cent respondents said they were also satisfied with the steps taken by their state government, a "nationwide" survey of rural India by media platform Gaon Connection along with the Lokniti-CSDS found.

A total of 25,371 respondents were interviewed between May 30 and July 16, 2020 during the exercise and all of them were main earners of their households, and thus primarily men, the Gaon Connection said.

The survey was designed and data analysed by the Lokniti-CSDS team at the New Delhi-based Centre for Study of Developing Societies CSDS).

It was carried out through face-to-face interviews following social distancing in 179 districts across 23 states and union territories by Gaon Connection Insights, the data and insights arm of the media platform.

The nationwide lockdown was first imposed by the Centre from March 25 for 21 days to check the spread of coronavirus and was subsequently extended.

About one-third (32 per cent) said they faced extremely high difficulty in accessing/getting food items during the lockdown and another one-third (36 per cent) said they faced high difficulty in doing so. A little over one-fifth (22 per cent) claimed to have had some difficulty in accessing food.

“Thus overall around nine of every ten households face some level of difficulty in getting food to eat,” the survey said.

Overall around 35 percent of the households went without eating the whole day either many times or sometimes, 38 percent skipped an entire meal in a day several times or sometimes and 46 percent cut 1-2 items from their meal often or sometimes.

“Thus it could be argued that the high difficulty in accessing food seems to have resulted in a fairly high incidence of hunger among rural households and this seems to have happened despite government ration reaching many of these households,” the survey said.

More than half the farmers managed to harvest their crops in time in the lockdown, but only one fourth could sell them on time.

It also found that 71 per cent ration card-owning households said they received wheat or rice from the government during the lockdown.

Of the 17 per cent citizens who do not own ration cards, only 27 per cent said they received wheat or rice from the government, according to the survey findings.

Twenty-three per cent of the migrant workers returned home walking during the lockdown and over 33 per cent migrant workers said they want to go back to the cities to work, the survey showed.

Despite government claims, the survey showed that only 20 per cent respondents said they got work under MGNREGA in the lockdown.

One major finding of the survey was the drop in confidence in rural India because of loss of incomes which could impact their purchasing power in the coming months.

A drop in purchasing power in rural India will have an adverse impact on government’s hopes of rural India kick starting an economic recovery.

The survey found that only nine per cent of rich rural households, who do not own a car, to be thinking of buying a car in the coming months, while only 14 percent of non-bike owning rich households plan to buy a bike in the next five to six months. EoM

Pointers: Gaon Connection & CSDS Survey

A) 68%: Rural Indians faced “high” to “very high” monetary difficulty in lockdown

B) 35%: Rural households that went without food for the entire day sometimes or many times during lockdown

C) 23%: Rural Indians borrowed money during the lockdown and 8% sold a valuable possession (phone, watch etc.)

D) 7%: Rural households mortgaged jewellery and 5% sold or mortgaged land during the lockdown.

E) 40%: Rural respondents said the lockdown was "too harsh"

F) 42%: Rural households with pregnant women said these women did not get pregnancy check-ups & vaccination

G) 35%: Dairy and poultry farmers did not get the right price for their produce

H) 38%: Rural households reported having gone without necessary medicine during the lockdown.

Note: A total of 25,371 respondents were interviewed between May 30 and July 16, 2020 during the exercise. The survey was carried in 179 districts across 23 states and union territories by Gaon Connection Insights, the data and insights arm of the media platform.

Source: Gain Connection and CSDS

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