he Covid-19 crisis may lead to an increase in income inequality, and Kashmir, sadly, is no exception. According to the world bank’s projections, people who see their incomes fall below $1.90 per day — the international poverty line — due to the pandemic are more likely to be “urban, better educated, and less likely to work in agriculture than those living in extreme poverty before Covid.” While the number of poor people — earning less than ₹150 per day — more than doubled, according to an analysis by the PRC. With the 90s came the violent phase in the history of Jammu & Kashmir and apart from the political changes a lot of socio-economic changes also took place. The prosperity of the urban middle class etherized away and those who did not have even one family member in government service were the worst sufferers. Within countries, a large share of the extreme poor are rural, whereas many of the new poor are likely to live in congested urban settings, which can serve as a conduit for infection.
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In Srinagar, much like many other cities in the world, everything has to be bought. You earn from hand to mouth to survive. A bulging lower middle class has appeared in almost every possible area of Srinagar where men in their 40s are not able to get married off and just above survive somehow. The availability of a huge number of unemployed youth is leading to exploitation by employers. In the prime location of Lal Chowk it is not uncommon to find salesmen working for a monthly remuneration of less than Rs.4000. In many schools even Masters degree holders are forced to work for even lesser amount of money, and now the Pandemic is a tipping point, and the choices governments take now could take the world in very different directions. We have an opportunity to invest in a decade of action that not only helps people recover from COVID-19, but that re-sets the development path of people and planet towards a fairer, resilient and green future. The current establishment must think of a lot of out of the box solutions to mitigate the problems. To start with skilling youth, relief funds, better monitoring of work places to ward off exploitation and strict implementation of minimum wages act are some of the acts that need to be followed in letter and spirit. While countries already struggling with high poverty levels are expected to see further increases, more than four-fifths of those forced into poverty by the pandemic — 72 million to 94 million — are expected to reside in middle-income countries. South Asia is projected to be the hardest hit region, with 49 million to 57 million people falling into poverty as a result of the pandemic.