Pravin Kumar, a street vendor, sells cold drinks near the famous Lotus Temple in Delhi. He has been without work since late March 2020 and was only able to resume vending in January 2021, nine months after the lockdown and that too for only two hours a day. With barely any tourists and a persisting fear of infection from street food and drink, his earnings are negligible compared to pre-lockdown levels. He bemoans the continuing lack of earnings even today: “Some days I don’t even want to go to work because I make so much effort and earn barely any money. I can only vend for two hours and no one wants to drink cold drinks in this weather right now. It doesn’t seem to be worth it.”
With street vendors being one of the few categories of workers being offered financial relief in the form of a loan, Pravin Kumar also applied for the same even though he feels it is insufficient. “The government should be giving us a cash transfer, not a loan; we have no means to even feed ourselves, how can we pay this back?” he says.
He was still waiting to receive the loan in February 2021, two and a half months after applying for it while he continues to do whatever little work he can find. He only hopes that the situation will improve soon because he doesn’t know how long he can continue like this.