COVID-19 Means Many In India Won't Come Out Of Poverty: Foreign Minister

Dr S Jaishankar addressed an online meeting of the eight-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Wednesday.

COVID-19 Means Many In India Won't Come Out Of Poverty: Foreign Minister

Dr S Jaishankar said the coronavirus crisis has disrupted production networks and supply chains.

New Delhi:

The global coronavirus crisis has eviscerated prospects of economic growth and will translate to many people in India staying poor, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday, in a significant recognition of the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Due to COVID-19, we have all seen any prospect of growth evaporate before our very eyes. For a society like India, it means that many will not come out of poverty for no fault of theirs. They have little understanding and even less control over why this happened," Dr Jaishankar said, addressing an online meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

"Of course, the crisis has resulted in disruption of production networks and supply chains, reverberating across the globe. In these circumstances, it is pertinent for SCO member states to jointly identify new ways and means to sustain economic growth," he added.

Foreign Ministers of the eight-member SCO discussed ways to cooperate in the fight against the coronavirus in a special online meeting on Wednesday called before a scheduled summit due to be held in Moscow on June 9-10.

The SCO was established by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in 1996. India and Pakistan were admitted to the bloc in 2017.

Lakhs of people in India have been driven out of work and left without food or shelter because of the coronavirus crisis and a sudden nationwide lockdown announced in March - two months after the outbreak reached the country.

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India's economy, which was already growing at its slowest pace in six years before the onset of the coronavirus, is set to take a severe hit amid the lockdown, economists have warned, adding that unemployment could rise to record levels.

In March, the government said it would provide around Rs 1.7 lakh crore in direct cash transfers and food security measures, mainly for the poor, but was widely accused of doing too little.

Providing some details of a greater Rs 20 lakh crore economic package on Wednesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a Rs 3 lakh crore line of credit to small and medium businesses and measures for a three-month boost to take-home salaries for private sector employees.