World Bank extends $1 billion aid to India in its fight against COVID-19

15 May, 2020 | Priyanka Sharma

World Bank National

The World Bank on Friday has extended $1 billion package to India amid coronavirus pandemic. World Bank's Country Director for India Junaid Ahmad has said that the the aid will help to protect the ...

The World Bank has approved one billion dollar package for India’s urban poor and migrant workers during the coronavirus crisis. It will leverage the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana to help protect the poor and vulnerable, said World Bank’s Country Director for India Junaid Ahmad. The social protection package is in addition to the previous package of one billion dollars allocated to India for COVID-19 emergency response and health systems.

Ahmad said the new funding will ensure that migrants are supported in various states. It will ensure portability so that benefits move with the workers. “It will provide a safety net to workers in the informal sector. Nearly 90 per cent of workers are in the unorganised sector,” he said.

“The funding will underpin support to state governments who will use local administrations, self-help groups and ASHA workers to ensure that safety net is delivered to these citizens.” Ahmad said this is a watershed moment for Indian government for two reasons. One, because the government has said there is no divide between lives and livelihoods. The social protection fund will take forward the link between lives and livelihoods.

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Two, like MNREGA, it piggybacks on the existing infrastructure of Public Distribution System and the trinity of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) to bring together India’s 460 systems of social protection. “This will create a 21st-century social protection system,” said Ahmad adding the upcoming third programme will focus on economic stabilisation of small and medium enterprises.

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