Bhopal: Coronavirus halts lives of daily wagers, vendors, cabbies

BHOPAL: Professionals are working from home amidst the global Corona outbreak. And, 1.85 crore people in MP, fall under the unorganized sector for whom social distancing is not a choice within their means.

“If it’s one day, we understand. But if there is no work for more than a couple of days, our lives will come to standstill,” Zeeshan, a Panipuri vendor beside LNCT College in Bhopal exclaims in despair. He said that he too fears the virus but if he won’t come out of his house he would not be able to make his ends meet.

The Corona scare has brought life to a halt. But for the daily-wage workers, like labourers, street vendors, cabbies, Pan shop owners, auto rickshaw drivers, film artists, helps at hotels and restaurants and many others who live hand-to-mouth, pandemics do not come easy.

The count of such an unorganised sector takes away nearly one-fourth of the population of Madhya Pradesh as per 2011 census. Educational institutions are closed, stadiums shut down and offices have employed work from home method for the show to go on. Buses are empty and roads deserted. Markets have declined.

But the shopkeepers, who sustain on pennies they earn on a daily basis standing under the screechy sunrays, have lost their customers.

They were depended on the commuters who stop by for a glass of limewater, the students who come by to relax with a cup of tea and the office-goers who couldn’t manage to have breakfast at home and find solace in eating a six-rupee Poha with colleagues.

Sachin Khobragade, a panwalla in the Press Complex area of busiest MP Nagar, told Free Press that sale has declined by more than a half. Corona has packed everybody inside their houses, he said.

He said a little while back, there used to be an ocean of working class gathered in front of his shop waiting for their cups of tea while sharing a plate of Pakodas.

A rapido captain, Noorgul Khan, said most of his customers were the students. They took rides everyday to their coaching classes and colleges and Khan had even befriended a couple of them.

Now, as the government has issued orders to shut them down, these daily-wage workers have nowhere to go. The size of the unorganized sector and the conditions that restrict them to practice social distancing, Corona virus spread has come out as a bigger challenge to contain for Indians.

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