Congress leader P Chidambaram wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus disease.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Congress leader P Chidambaram wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus disease.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

Covid-19 update: Chidambaram berates govt over jobless rate, then adds a praise

The former Union finance minister quoted India’s unemployment rate, which the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) said, could have risen to more than 23% as the economy lost jobs after a nationwide lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic in the last week of March.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON APR 08, 2020 12:49 PM IST

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday accused the government of adopting ‘miserly and negligent approach’ towards the poor during the lockdown to break the chain of coronavirus infections and called for providing money to them.

The former Union finance minister quoted India’s unemployment rate, which the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) said, could have risen to more than 23% as the economy lost jobs after a nationwide lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic in the last week of March.

The nationwide lockdown began on March 25 even as several states had already imposed strict restrictions on movement in some districts.

Also read: Covid-19 cases in India breach 5000-mark, death toll at 149

The business information company, which tracks unemployment data on a weekly basis, estimates that unemployment has risen from 8.4% in the week ended March 22 to 23.

Also read: What you need to know today

“With unemployment at 23 per cent (CMIE) and a freeze on daily wages/incomes, the government must immediately find the resources and remonetise (give cash to) the poor.

The miserly and cruelly negligent approach of the government has compounded the hardships of the poor,” Chidambaram tweeted.

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The Congress leader said the numbers point to ‘adopting a cautious and conservative approach’.

“What is sorely missing in the lockdown strategy is putting cash in the hands of poor people. There are several sections of the poor who have not received a single rupee from the government,” he said.

As he criticised the government for its approach towards the poor, Chidambaram also had a word of praise.

Also read: Govt looks at ways to restart business ops post lockdown

“As among the first to advocate a lockdown, I welcome the central government consulting the states on whether the lockdown should be lifted after April 14,” he said.

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Chidambaram was referring to the requests by several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Karnataka, to extend the three-week nationwide lockdown. Officials have said the Centre is considering enforcing it beyond April 14 and may also keep the option of lifting the restrictions in a staggered manner.

The Union health ministry has, however, clarified that there was no decision on extending the nationwide lockdown yet, asking people not to speculate.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the sweeping restrictions, including a ban on public transport as well as commercial rail and air travel, on March 24 till April 14. Only people involved in the delivery of essential services, such as health care, are being allowed to function during this three-week period.

Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers were left without work and forced to flee from cities to their homes in villages for food and shelter.

Since then the number of Covid-19 cases has gone beyond the 5000 mark with the Union health ministry saying there are 4643 active cases, 401 people have been cured or discharged and 149 have died.

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