A telephone survey carried out by Delhi-based think tank National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) among the residents of Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) suggests that the central government might have done just the right thing by extending the lockdown by another two weeks.
The result of the survey, released just before the government announcement, indicated that 88 per cent of respondents expressed some degree of support for continuing the lockdown for an additional two weeks. This was the second round of the survey carried out between April 23 and 26. The first round, the results of which were also similar, happened during April 3 and 6.
As part of the Coronavirus Telephone Survey (DCVTS-2) NCAER's National Data Innovation Centre interviewed 1,885 adults from a different set of households selected randomly from the same urban blocks and villages of Delhi NCR that were sampled in Round 1. In the first round, 1,756 adults were interviewed.
The rapid response telephonic survey series is meant to assess people's attitudes and perceptions towards the risk of coronavirus infection, people's knowledge of preventive and control measures, especially social distancing, and the feasibility of adhering to them. It also assesses the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people's livelihoods, income, social life, and access to essential items.
In Round 1, 62 per cent strongly supported the continuation of the lockdown and 24 per cent expressed some support. Later in April in Round 2, 60 per cent strongly supported continuation of the 40-day lockdown and 28 per cent supported it somewhat.
The support for continuing the lockdown also varied a lot by the household's main source of livelihood. Those citing cultivation (67 per cent) and salaried work (61 per cent) as their main source of income supported extending the lockdown much more than households citing casual wage work (48 per cent). Of respondents from casual-wage-work households, 63 percent said that they would resume work immediately if the lockdown is lifted after May 3, as compared to the much lower estimate of 55 per cent for all respondents.
On the impact of the lockdown on the livelihoods of people, the vast majority (82 per cent) of the respondents of the Round 2 reported some level of reduction in their income or wages in the two weeks before the Survey with the reduction being the highest for casual wage workers and businesses, similar to the findings of the earlier round. While an estimated 72 per cent of casual workers reported that their income and wages had suffered "very much", the corresponding figures were lower for regular salaried workers (41 per cent) and farmers (34 per cent). An estimated 62 per cent of salaried workers reported receiving their full salary, while the remaining 38 per cent either did not receive any salary, received a partial salary, or lost their job during the lockdown.
The survey also covered government relief measures. About 47 per cent of the respondents said they received extra rations (grains and pulses) in the month prior to the survey, with significant rural (52 per cent) and urban (42 per cent) differences. About 29 per cent households received additional cash transfers from the government during the lockdown. But the amount of the additional cash transfer was modest. In the month prior to the survey, the median amount rural households received was Rs. 1,000 and urban households Rs. 500.
While an estimated 66 per cent of rural households received either additional rations or additional cash, this was much lower at 48 per cent for urban households. Just about a fifth of households (19 per cent) received both additional rations and cash benefits, with large differences between rural households (25 per cent) and urban households (12 per cent), the results say. However, 30 per cent of casual workers reported that they did not receive additional rations in spite of their need for it.
Both surveys were conducted each about a week prior to the announced end of each lockout period to generate evidence to support the crucial decisions policymakers are faced with, an NCAER statement said.