Following are some of the innovations that have been deployed in response to COVID-19.
Digital Supply Innovation to Feed the Daily Wage Workers
By Mahila Saksham Foundation
There are easy and simple ways to help feed the daily wage workers from the comfort of your own home. The Mahila Saksham Foundation has found an innovative way for you to get involved using Paytm! Paytm is an e-commerce payment system that allows you to send money directly and instantly. The Mahila Saksham Foundation supports women’s empowerment through skills development. They train women from disadvantaged backgrounds and provide them with employable vocational skills. In response to Covid-19, the Mahila Saksham Foundation have partnered with the already established Trust, the M.T.M Group, to come to the aid of vulnerable families with their “Ration for ALL” initiative.
Ration for ALL Initiative
The “Ration for ALL” initiative urges contributors to donate money directly to the cause in order to provide the daily wage workers with resources to buy groceries and daily utilities, allowing them to ration themselves. Essentially, you can help buy groceries for a vulnerable family that cannot afford it themselves. Mumbai is a city of migrants. A lot of these workers come from neighbouring states such as Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and more.
The #RationForALL campaign works as such: A donation of INR 1,000 will provide for a family of 3 migrant labourers: 5KG rice, 1 KG Daal, 1 L Oil, Biscuits, 1 KG onions, 1 KG potatoes, and some vegetables. This will help a family survive for 10 days, now that the lockdown has been extended.
How to Donate
They accept Paytm only at this number: 8169425343 (Sarala), or DM the founder on Instagram directly (IG Handle: @aishwaryaganji) for Net Banking details. Your contribution will be transferred via Paytm to a local grocer within one of the several disadvantaged areas with a high concentration of migrant laborers.
To contribute, follow Mahila Saksham’s handle @mahilasaksham on Instagram to message them directly, or email
Once you've donated...
Their on-ground volunteers powered by the M.T.M Group will produce kits and deliver the food from the grocer to the migrant workers. While doing so, the volunteers cover themselves with a mask and spread awareness among the daily wagers regarding social distancing and the DOs and DONTs during the pandemic.
After the donation, the benefactor will receive a proof of deployment that will include the Paytm transfer to the local grocer, the ration bought, and a video from the migrant labor family receiving the ration and thanking the donor.
So far, the campaign has been able to help over 2500 families and continues to help more. They have allocated the donated funds to distribute rice, aata, dal, cooking oil, tea, onions, potatoes, and spices. Areas such as Versova, Girgaon Goregaon, Jawahar Nagar, Adarsh Nagar, Lino Road, Andheri West, and Vakola; among others have received assistance. Volunteers divide rations amongst themselves and deliver them to the daily wage labourers in these areas directly.
Innovative ways to distribute food to workers with social distancing
Author and entrepreneur Sudipto Das, his neighbours, and batchmates from IIT Kharagpur, have developed a simple model to distribute groceries to migrant labourers at the micro level. As the heart-wrenching news of migrant labourers walking thousands of kilometres to return home poured in following the announcement of countrywide lock-down on March 24, Bengaluru-based author and entrepreneur Sudipto Das, his neighbours and batch mates from IIT Kharagpur, discussed how they could make a difference within their locality itself. After some introspection and brainstorming, they analysed the root cause for the exodus. Says Sudipto: “It is caused because, suddenly, with no cash in hand, millions of daily wage earners staying away from home are feeling alienated and helpless, with no one to share their pain and uncertainty about the immediate future. Under such circumstances, it is but natural to yearn for their families back home.”
Sudipto adds there were two problems they needed to tackle, one of hunger and the other of the rapid spread of the coronavirus through mass movement. “With hunger being the root cause, what comes to mind is the need to feed the hungry. In such a scenario, central kitchens and arrangements for massive food distribution might not seem feasible, while maintaining social distancing and all the known standards of hygiene.
After exploring his neighbourhood and from his findings, Sudipto adds that most of daily wage earners already have cooking arrangements, wherever they have been staying. All they need is supplies from their grocers, who they have been going to all these days and who give them their daily provisions on credit. “We can’t blame the local grocers, who are more often than not, people of meagre means themselves and have concerns for unrecoverable debts. That is when an idea flashed through our minds. We thought of breaking down the macro problem of millions of people at the city level into the hyper-micro problems of only a few hundred in each neighbourhood. Looking around in our own neighbourhood we figured out that we could very well pool in some money and pay the local grocery stores for the daily provisions of the people who are stranded here. We talked to the people about their basic requirements, negotiated a good rate with the grocer and come up with a unit containing basic provisions to sustain a family of four to five people, including children for two days. We then requested one person from each family to collect the packet directly from the shop. This served several purposes. It ensured that no one had to travel beyond a few hundred meters, thus not violating the norms of the lock-down or social distancing. We did not have to bother about the logistics at all, thus making the entire process very simple; it ensured that there were no middlemen and that the packets directly reached the ones they were meant for. Finally, it ensured that there would not be any wastage, as we had given a limited quantity.”
The packets comprise two kilograms of rice, half a kilogram each of dal, potato and onion, half a litre of cooking oil, a packet of biscuits, some green chillies and one soap. “After some negotiation, the grocer was ready to give it for ₹250.” On how they identified the people in need, Sudipto says: “They stay in our neighbourhood. Each of us went around and identified stranded people, within few hundred meters of our homes, while going out to buy groceries, talked to them, authenticated, verified that the needs are genuine, talked to the same grocers they have been buying stuff from all these days, paid for the number of packets they would need, and asked one member per family to go to the shop and collect the packet.” As of today they have self delivered packets to 377 people in Sarjapur Road. “By self delivered I mean the labourers collected from the nearby stores and we just paid the respective grocers,” says Sudipto.
The beneficiaries Gobind Sharma, a labourer, says they are receiving the unit packets. “Four or five of us live together in Dasarahalli and so we are able to share the food among us. The stores get replenished but if we can get a little more rice, it would be good.” 35-year-old Jayaram M, an advocate, who stays in Sarjapur, says: “I do a round of the locality to see if people are in need. And then I update Sudipto. We don’t always get every item from one shop, we have to source different items from different shops.” Likkhu, a security guard says: “These packets help sustain us. Our homes are far in UP and Bihar.” This simple model, which can be replicated by anyone in their locality, has got others interested too. “You don’t need to go out regularly, just on a day when you go out to buy groceries, look around and you will surely see people stranded. Identify them, talk to the grocer and ask the fund manager to pay the grocer and within 10 minutes the people get their necessities.” Sudipto received calls from people across the city. “Someone called from KR Puram and organised groceries for 65 people there. We paid from our funds for two clusters stranded at Bannerghatta Road and Dasarahalli. The idea is to stay at home, respect the lockdown but still do whatever we can at a micro level to minimises the movement of people. Our target is to reach 500.”
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This article is an abridged version of a story published in The Hindu by Sravasti Datta.