'Public spending on social sector increased in 2020-21'

Coronavirus Impact: Public spending on social sector increased in 2020-21, says Economic Survey

During the lockdown, it said online schooling took off in a big way and the government introduced several measures to make online education accessible to all children

Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian addresses a press conference on Economic Survey 2020-21, in New Delhi, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 Credit: PTI Photo

Public spending on the social sector was increased in 2020-21 to mitigate the hardships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the loss to livelihood due to the lockdown, the Economic Survey said on Friday.

It said Covid-19 has brought into focus the vulnerabilities of societies, states and countries in facing a pandemic.

"Development and welfare schemes being implemented by the Government over the years together with these relief measures enabled the country to endure the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic," the Economic Survey tabled in Parliament said.

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The government announced the first relief package of Rs 1.70 lakh crore under ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY)’ in March 2020 followed by a comprehensive stimulus cum relief package of Rs 20 lakh crore under ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ in May 2020.

During the lockdown, it said online schooling took off in a big way and the government introduced several measures to make online education accessible to all children.

Similarly the lockdown period also saw the growth of the gig economy and increasing work from home in the organized sector, it added.

It said the complete lockdown between 24 March, 2020 to 31 May, 2020 helped in arresting the number of fatalities due to Covid-19 as well as taking precautionary measures to contain the spread of the disease.

"However, the lockdown had an inevitable impact on the vulnerable and informal sector, the education system, and on the economy as a whole," it said.

The survey noted that Covid-19 exposed the vulnerability of urban casual workers, who account for 11.2% of urban workforce , a significant proportion of them are supposed to be migrants who were impacted by the lockdown.

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"About 63.19 lakh migrant workers travelled through Shramik Special trains from May-August 2020. With limited data available on inter-state migration and employment in informal sectors, it is difficult to figure the numbers of migrants who lost jobs and accommodation during the pandemic and returned home," it said.

The survey noted that India has attained a literacy level of almost 96% at the elementary school level but it is still behind in achieving 100% literacy. As per National Sample Survey (NSS), the literacy rate of persons of age seven years and above at the All India level stood at 77.7% but the differences in literacy rate attainment among social-religious groups, as well as gender
still persists .

Female literacy remained below national average among social groups of SC, ST, OBC, including religious groups of Hinduism and Islam, it added.

While it acknowledged that there is an improvement in the proportion of skilled people over the annual cycle of Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) across rural, urban and gender classification, the survey said the level of skill acquirement remained low, as only 2.4%  of the workforce of age 15-59 years have received formal vocational/technical training and another 8.9% of the workforce through informal sources.

Out of the 8.9% workforce who received non-formal training, the largest chunk is contributed by on-the-job training (3.3%), followed by self-learning (2.5%) and hereditary sources (2.1%) and other sources (1%).

Among those who received formal training, the most opted training course is IT-ITeS among both males and females, followed by electrical-power and electronics, mechanical engineering- capital goods- strategic manufacturing, automotive, office and business-related work for males while the other preferred courses of females were textileshandloom-apparels, office and business-related work, healthcare & life sciences and work related to childcare-nutrition-pre-school and creche, it said.