80% of people in rural India want MSP for farmers, over 90% get healthy

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A pre-budget survey found majority of people want MSP for farmers in rural India

The fact that inequality rose sharply in India during the economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic has often been highlighted by the media and economic observers.

Unsurprisingly, India was named one of the most unequal countries by the Global Inequality Report 2022. The richest 10% and 1% in India hold 57% and 22% of total national income respectively, while the bottom 50% hold only 13%.

In light of the grim economic scenario, Fight Inequality Alliance, an NGO group, has released a pre-budget investigative report, which highlights the common man’s expectations of the 2022 budget.

Here are six takeaways from the pre-budget survey, which gathered input from 3,231 Indians from 24 states:

1. Eight out of 10 respondents in rural India want the government to provide minimum support price (MSP) to farmers. However, according to the Shanta Kumar Committee report, only about 6% of Indian farmers benefit from the MSP. “Farmers make up a substantial part of the workforce. However, they faced a financial crisis, accentuated by the Covid-19 pandemic. MSP will provide them with a security blanket against economic distress,” said Anjela Taneja, Head of Fight Inequality Alliance India.

2. 94.3% of respondents want the government to provide universal minimum social security including health and maternity benefits, accident insurance, life insurance and pension to all non-union workers. The informal sector, which accounts for nearly 90% of the working population, has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent report noted that informal workers faced a 22.6% drop in wages due to the pandemic.

3. 94.1 percent of respondents favor an increase in the allocation for the National Health Mission, the largest program of the Ministry of Health. The survey report cites the 2020-21 economic study which recommended increasing public health spending by 1% to 2.5-3% of GDP, to reduce direct health spending by 65% ​​to 35% .

4. More than 94% of the population wants the government to establish the “right to health”. Arguing that such a right will help provide a minimum level of health care, the survey adds that such a right can reduce high out-of-pocket expenses. According to the former CEO of Ayushman Bharat, Indu Bhushan, around 6 million people fall into poverty each year due to high health care costs.

5. Nine out of 10 respondents want the government to ensure that all schools provide extra academic support for students with learning loss and roll out national education policy provisions such as breakfast in schools . A recent report by UNICEF said that 76% of Indian students suffered learning losses during the pandemic. This is especially true for students from low-income families who may also not be able to afford digital education, the World Bank noted.

6. Nine out of 10 respondents want the Center to increase allocations for scholarships and skills development for marginalized sections. It is to be noted that the 2021 budget has allocated Rs 3,000 crore for apprenticeships. “With large-scale migration during the pandemic, the government needs to spend more on skills development. During the pandemic, more women lost their jobs than men. The budget allocation should encourage women to work in higher paying sectors like science and technology,” Ms. Taneja said.

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