The pandemic has had a heavy impact on all people in some or another way. Apart from phrases like COVID positive, hospitals and oxygen cylinders, there was a situation that affected almost everyone in the country, especially those belonging to the middle and lower-income groups.
Businesses shut down, shutters of shops mainly were down, and empty streets had become a common sight. Under these circumstances, the most affected people belong to the lower rung of the societal stratification. Though the government began several micro-credit and free ration schemes, they benefitted those who needed it the most, which remains unsubstantiated.
Only One-Fourth Vendors Had Identification
One of the most important schemes for millions of street vendors across the country was the Prime Minister Street Vendors AtmaNirbhar Scheme. Commonly abbreviated as PM SVANidhi Scheme, it left behind many beneficiaries because of bureaucratic loopholes. According to a survey conducted by the Indo Global Social Survey Society (IGSSS), 62 per cent of their respondents had never been surveyed to be recognized as street vendors. Only one-fourth of the total street vendors surveyed by the civil society organization had some identification, like a vendor ID or a survey slip.
About 65 power cent of all respondents have faced some or the other kind of harassment since June 2020, after the government released the PM SVANidhi scheme and after the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs declared street vendors as 'essential services provider'. More than 40 per cent of the street vendors were not even aware of any scheme for them by the government. The survey by IGSSS showed that only 11 per cent of the street vendors have benefitted from the PM SVANidhi scheme.
85% Did Not Get LOR
The situation becomes gloomier if one keeps digging more and more into the report. About 85 per cent of the people did not receive the Letter of Recommendation (LOR) from their Municipal Corporations, which is one of the essential documents to avail the benefits of the credit scheme. More than half of the respondents had not even applied for the scheme's benefits, and the reasons they cited are valid enough.
About one-fourth of them said that they would be unable to repay the loan and thus, did not want another debt on their shoulders; 19 per cent of the people believed that they were not eligible for the scheme even though they were, 17 per cent did not know how to apply, and 16 per cent said that they did not need a loan.
Apart from the reasons mentioned above, the vendors must spend some money from their pockets to apply for the loan scheme. According to the survey, applying for the scheme involves registration, travel expenses, stationery charges and document submission. About 53 per cent of the beneficiaries said that the scheme was not as helpful as the scheme projected to be, mainly because the amount of credit was too little in such modern times.
Though the scheme was launched in June 2020, the second wave of COVID-19 further delayed the benefits due to the vendors. The PM SVANidhi scheme was launched on a short-term basis; however, considering the magnitude of the number of street vendors, if the scheme is launched for a longer duration, there is a higher probability of more people being benefitted. Secondly, the corporations that issue the recommendation letters should work more effectively and efficiently.