Street vendors, hawkers, and small retailers play great role in providing daily essential commodities and services at the doorstep in the most of the developing, as well as poor countries. Most importantly, in the slum and low income areas of big urban conglomerations in India, they are omnipresent. But, in the amidst of coronavirus crisis and series of lockdowns, the economic backbone of these poor vendors and workers has been badly broken. And, the possibility of quick revival in near future looks uncertain. So, this piece of paper, “Impacts of coronavirus on street vendors” will give you better insight.
Unprecedented rise in the numbers of vendors, why ?
It is true that in the recent decades the numbers of vendors in the urban conglomerations of the developing, as well as poor countries have shown unprecedented rise. Mainly, it is attributed to the population explosion, declining rural economy, rural–urban economic inequality, and rural to urban migration.
Besides, migrating unemployed people have hardly any expertise, skill, capital to start a competitive business or to work in the multinational corporations with secured salaries.
Hence, for the sake of daily bread and butter, these desperate people start working as a vendors, hawkers, and small retailers in the proximity of markets.
Who is responsible for this fragility of lives ?
Someone has wisely said that democracy rewards merit without favour. However, merits needs to be developed and cultivated through better education, skill and expertise right from childhood. Then, only one could reap the rewards, generated by the merit caring democratic regime.
In India, more than half of the population is still depend on the vagries of monsoon and unreliable agriculture. Second, population growth and hereditary fragmentation of land holding have already capped the agricultural profitability.
Third, rampant corruption, communal, and dynastic politics forced developmental and people centric approach out of agenda. In such situations, migration, chaos, slum, and poverty will only mushroom in the fertile soil of democracy.
Why the coronavirus crisis is so dangerous for vendors ?
These people have hardly any saving, nor any backup plan in their villages. Truly, theirs labour is the only capital that they invest daily to earn daily wages for theirs family.
Then, what would happen with these people when the entire nation is under strict lockdowns without any prior instructions ? How does government improve theirs economic state with staple foodgrains ? What changes were experienced in the life of poor by the huge gift of corporate tax for big industrial houses ?
Now, it is true that government has left them on the mercy of misery fate as they did many decades, and these poverty addicted people love to be called poor.
What would happen in the future ?
Reverse migration has been already gaining momentum ever since the lockdowns began. Now, the village economy can’t bear the burden of extra numbers. Third, there would be huge decline in the both purchasing power and standards of living. Fourth, the incident of addiction will jump suddenly. And, communal forces, religious fantism, social conflicts may surface in the vulnerable areas of the rural areas.
So far, I have analysed various aspects of the ongoing situation to judge the impacts of coronavirus on street vendors and reached the following conclusion — Just imagine the state of nation amidst the series of lockdowns, where millions of people are vendors, hawkers, and retailers, and they don’t have any documentation, not any backup plan. Will they survive comfortably in the highly competitive environment with staple foodgrains and without concrete financial aid ? If yes, then how ? And, why the big industrial houses need lucrative stimulus package and not mere staple foodgrains? Is this all inclusive growth — treat poor poorly and rich powerfully?