India announces $23bn bailout for its poorest

Free food for homeless people in Telangana state. Photo: Getty Images

India has just announced a $22.6bn bailout for the giant country’s poorest citizens to help tide them over during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“We don’t want anyone to remain hungry and we don’t want anyone to remain without money in their hands,” said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

She said the package would take care of “those who need immediate help” and would include food security by providing free rice, wheat and pulses, as well as direct cash transfers.

The government would also provide medical insurance cover of up to $66,482 for all healthcare workers helping fight the virus.

India’s economy was in the midst of a brutal slowdown before the country went into lockdown, shutting workplaces, factories and leaving millions of day-wagers and informal workers anxious and helpless.

So far India has recorded a tiny number of deaths and infections in proportion to its size – 13 deaths and 593 cases – but there are fears the virus will spread.


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