Justice Doctrine for Delhi’s Citizens

21st August 2020

On July 22nd, 2020 we at The Community Library Project (TCLP) were part of ~100 signatories, who sent the Delhi Government  an email with the subject “Relief for Non-PDS Cardholders: Joint Letter from Non-Government/ Civil Society Groups”. 

Now, TCLP is following it up with a Justice Doctrine for Delhi’s Citizens which can be found in the form of three posters. The posters are voices of ‘Aam Dilliwale’ and represent those community members who have been associated with our library project (they or their children are TCLP library members). They represent the working class, migrant (non-Delhi) labour-force, low-income and marginalised citizens of India. The posters are collated from answers given when they were asked if they had a message for the Delhi government. 

In August 2020, librarians of TCLP called up 397 unique households in the Sheikh Sarai/ Malviya Nagar/ Khirki area, who have received food relief from different organisations in relief efforts coordinated by TCLP. In total ~800 ration kits were distributed in 8 rounds from May to July-end. We made calls to inform beneficiaries that we could no longer coordinate food relief as we and our partnering organisations had run out of resources. 

In the phone call, we also asked about various distresses they were facing due to the lockdown. 

The posters are their responses as recorded by our librarians.

In terms of ballpark percentages & core issues faced, here is a synopsis of what we’ve recorded in our calls:

Total calls made: 397 (all of whom have received food relief in May-July ‘20)

Unreachable/ Disconnected/ Out of Network: ~18%

Respondents with working Delhi ration cards & no distress: ~6.5%

Respondents with ration-related & other critical distresses post-lockdown: ~46%

Main issues cited for food distress:

  • No Delhi Ration card & application stuck in process for long time
  • Non-Delhi ration card not accepted
  • Aadhar not expected
  • No e-coupon/ temporary ration facility (in July 20)
  • Can’t renew expired/ inactive ration card quickly
  • Can’t use Delhi ration card as printed information on card is incorrect
  • Delhi-cardholders experiencing harassment and incorrect disbursement of allotted amounts of ration; facing physical intimidation & bullying

Other major distress points:

  • No job opportunities & loss of employment
  • Harassment from landlords & no relaxation in rent
  • Harassment from police, when attempting to set up ‘raiddhis’ for small business like vegetable vending etc.
  • No relaxation in private school fees

This is just a small snapshot of the distress faced by Delhi’s most vulnerable citizens 4-5 months after the pandemic closed down life as we know it. The actual numbers for the capital are bound to be much higher.

We at TCLP urge the Delhi government as well as the Union government to create faster & more efficient processes for our community to get access to food relief via the PDS system. We understand that typically a ration card takes anywhere between 1.5 to 2 years to be made. Additionally, the process to renew or transfer PDS cards is also lengthy & difficult. 

In the interim, there can be more efficient & proactive ways to apply for temporary relief, with options for those who do not have smart devices or access to high speed internet. 

We present this Justice Doctrine as the voice of Delhi with the expectation that our elected representatives fulfill the basic needs of those who elected them to power, ensuring every citizen’s well-being, dignity and ability to progress.

The Community Library Project
Dharam Bhavan, C-13 Housing Society
South Extension Part -1
New Delhi - 110049
Donations to The Community Library Project are exempt from tax under section 80G of the Income Tax Act. Tax exemption is only valid in India.

Illustrations provided by Priya Kurien.
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