If only I had the ration card today, I would have been able to feed my family two square meals a day without depending on anyone.”
By Asheef Iqubbal
It has been more than two years since Manisha Devi, 35, applied for a correction in her ration card, the document that 814 million Indians officially classified as poor must have to get cheap food from the government.
When she was single, Devi shared her name on the ration card with her father. After marriage, when she sought a new ration card, she was disallowed from applying for a fresh one, since her name already existed on the old ration card.
“I’m tired of making the rounds for the (ration) card,” said Devi, whose husband is a daily wage labourer.
“Before the lockdown, I would find work in the fields, my husband would also find some work in the village,” said Devi from Pachkahar in Bihar’s West Champaran district. “In this way, we would somehow make ends meet.”
She said her husband and her had now taken a loan of Rs 7,000 from a local moneylender at an interest of 4% per month, “to make sure we have something to eat”. She is not clear how they will repay the loan.
“I don’t know how we will be able to survive this way,” she said.
Sikander Khwas, a Mumbai carpenter, lives in the same neighbourhood. He was visiting for a relative’s wedding when the lockdown was announced on 24 March 2020 as a public-health measure against the Coronavirus, leaving him unemployed.