Lives of many lower middle-class families are hanging by a thread because of the lockdown.

Food scarcity has already hit the migrant labourers. Now, those doing odd jobs are bearing the brunt of the lockdown which has entered the fourth phase.

Those working as guards, recovery agents and cook have been deprived of their salary for the past two months.

They have no means, other than what they do, to eke out a few pittances to their family income.

Free Press talked to some of the people doing such odd jobs to know how they are managing their household and what they think about their future.

Unemployment has plumbed new lows since beginning of the year.  But joblessness has registered its nadir during the lockdown. Most of them say they are worried, because their future looks bleak.

The excerpts: 

Nizam Beg, recovery agent

Nizam Beg is a recovery agent for a bank. He is the sole bread winner of his family comprising five members. They include parents and siblings. He used to earn 15,000 to 20,000 per month. But he has no work now due to lockdown. So, there is no income and everything stopped. He was still managing from his saving but it is also finished because expanses are still continued.” He also took help from his friends. “But now, everything is out of control or not manageable,” he said. There are many schemes, launched by government but he is not getting any support from them. The schemes are only on paper, no implementation on ground level, he said.

Chhaya Kevat, cook

Chhaya Kevat worked as cook in a hotel and also cooked for marriage reception and used earn Rs 6000 to 7000 per month. Now, she is out of job for more than 50 days due to the lockdown. Her husband is no more now. She is the sole bread winner of the family comprising two children. She has no savings. She said that she is feeding her children after getting ration and food from private NGOs. “Pareshani to bahot hai madam, sabse jyada khane ki pareshani hai… (we are in big trouble, mostly of food),” she said. She is also worried of the future of her children who study in class seven and five.

Rehan Khan, businessman

Rehan Khan runs a small shop of mobile accessories on rent. The rent of the shop is around Rs 5,000 per month. But the shop is closed since the day of lockdown. And he has no other source of income. His monthly income was around Rs 8,000, after paying rent of the shop. He lives with family comprising parents, wife and children. The home is running with the pension of his father who retired from Hamdard laboratory. “We have taken some loan from friends but woh bhi kab tak denge …,” he said.

Mukesh Namdev, guard

Mukesh Namdev is sole bread winner of his family comprising wife and three children. He used to work as guard in Suvidha Travels but he is jobless for the last three months. He is sacked from the job since the day of lockdown. His monthly income was 7,500. He said that even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal, his owner sacked him from job and didn’t pay for the two months. “I worked there till March 22 and he paid me only 22 days’ wage,” he said. He said that he is running home after getting food and ration form NGOs. “Hamara income band ho gaya hai to pareshani to hogi na …( income has stopped, so there will be problems),” he said.

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