05:49 GMT04 July 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Reeling under the economic distress following the lockdown, Indian government provided relief to 800 million people by allocating free ration for three months. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the number of people provided free ration is several times the population of many large countries like the USA and UK.

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a $12 billion Free Ration Scheme to 800 million people for the next five months. People will receive five kilograms of rice or five kilograms of wheat and one kilogram of lentils as well.

    Modi said on Tuesday: "More than 800 million people have been given rations free of cost - which is equal to 2.5 times the population of the USA and 12 times the population of UK".

    The prime minister said that more than $12 billion will be spent in this expansion of his welfare scheme, known as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. “If you add the expenses of the last three months to it, then it becomes almost $20 billion”.

    Following the announcement of a lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, many people in India lost their livelihoods. Taking note of the current economic crisis and upcoming festival season, the government has announced extensions of the free rations scheme.

    The government has also announced a single ration card, a document that enables the poor to receive cheaper foodgrains from government outlets, that will be valid across the entire country. Currently, the validity of such ration cards is limited to individual states.

    “One ration, one nation will immensely benefit those labourers who migrate to cities in search of livelihood,” Modi said on Tuesday in his televised address to the nation.

    India's government has taken several measures such as freezing dearness allowances/relief to around 11 million government employees/pensioners in order to increase its expenditure on the health and welfare of the poor following the crisis brought on by the COVID-19 lockdown.

    Nevertheless, Modi advised people to take more precautions to be safe from the pandemic as the country moved towards the second phase of unlocking the economy. The prime minister emphasised that a timely lockdown and other decisions helped to save 100,000 lives in the country. India has now entered the second phase unlock, while there are still 215,125 active COVID-19 cases in the country, which has recorded 16,893 deaths.

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    Tags:
    lockdown, COVID-19, prime minister, Narendra Modi, India
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