About three weeks ago, we lamented the plight of the market women of Imphal who are suffering economically and emotionally as a result of the pandemic Covid-19 since March when lockdown began and markets were closed indefinitely. The market women of Khwairamband Keithel had obliged Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s appeal for voluntary closure of the three crowded main markets and temporary market sheds of Imphal to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the state. In this same space we had asked, what have we done to reciprocate the voluntary gesture of these brave women. The market is not only about bread and butter to them. The marketplace is also their social life.
It is not so much about the trading activity but the social interactions they engage in, which attracts them to Khwairamband Keithel daily. We had warned, unless something is done to compensate and console these impoverished and forgotten women whose world has been torn apart at the seams, it is best we be prepared for another Nupilan.
It is now clear, Biren has not forgotten the voluntary gesture of these market women. Yes, it took a little time. Nevertheless, it has arrived. After a hectic political sojourn in the capital, the Chief Minister on his return came with a surprise gift for the women, in the form of loans for both the licensed vendors and street vendors under two schemes introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Come Tuesday, Chief Minister N Biren Singh distributed loans to a total of 817 vendors of different districts to support them in resuming their vending activities which have been affected by the lockdown. 368 street vendors were benefitted under the Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s Atmanirbhar Nidhi - PM SVANidhi and 449 regular licensed vendors including 14 from hill districts were provided assistance under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) - SHISHU. Biren celebrated the brave market women whose sacrifice helped check the spread of the pandemic, and informed that such loans would be provided to a total of around 20,000 vendors from different parts of the State.
PM SVANidhi was launched by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on June 15, 2020. It is a special micro credit scheme for providing affordable working capital loan to street vendors to resume their livelihoods that have been affected due to COVID-19 lockdown. Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) - SHISHU was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 8, 2015 for providing loans to non-farm small micro enterprises. The amount of loan disbursed ranges from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1,50,000.
Now that the market women and street vendors have been taken care of, at least for the time being, the state government needs to start thinking of the daily wagers, the plight of thousands of people in both the private and unorganised sector, and of course, the poor and needy. A suggestion would be introduction of a special social security scheme to make amends for the loss of jobs and workplace among the general population.
First published:26 Aug 2020, 2:50 am
Ima KeithelBiren SinghKhwairamband Keithelvendorsmarket women