Implications of Reopening India on Its Economy and Workers
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The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the Indian economy. Consumption, manufacturing, exports, and capital flows have been majorly hit. The shock is real and so are the concerns. The country's growth in the fourth quarter went down to 3.1 percent—a shudder which may take time to recover.
A sigh of reprieve can, however, be felt now as the government has announced the unlocking course. After six sheer weeks of locking activities and curbing unwanted movements, the government is preparing to unlock them. In order to recover the stalled economy, the government says it is now important to unlock industries. The centre has announced several stimulus packages to bring back the mired economy on its feet. Nevertheless, the resumption will take some time.
But, how will the economy and workforce react to the shift?
Firstly, let’s understand the government’s unlocking process
The government has planned to unlock in phases. While in the first phase, several industries and religious places have opened, the government plans to reopen all educational institutes in the second phase. Travels, cinema halls and larger gatherings may be allowed in the third phase, of course with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These plans have an economic emphasis as the government is trying to bring the stuck businesses and activities on track and lift the economy.
Now, let’s talk about challenges
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health classified districts into zones based on the number of cases. Now, that means districts that come under red zones require extreme precaution and care, while industrial and economic activities are opening up. This is a real problem at this time as a single miss can lead to shattering results.
If a single person is infected, the entire factor/industry will have to shut. That dismisses any notion of a quick retrieval in an economy facing its first shrinkage in more than four decades and hundreds of millions of job sufferers.
Another major challenge is the workforce. It looks tough to convince workers to return to jobs after millions of them fled to their rural homes. As a result, there is a labor shortage ultimately breaking supply chains.
Small and mid-sized businesses are already facing financial throbbing. There are issues with the availability of loans for them as the banking sector has been widely hurt. Liquidity concerns are quite visible.
There are several other glitches too. Any economic activity needs to go through several processes. Like workers are required to follow the safety norms. The situation is not normal and too much training is required. Everybody needs to be extra watchful. At times, that may become befuddling.
There is a lack of capital with industries and managing masks, sanitizers, and sustaining social distancing norms are difficult.
There are other restrictions as curfew timings and travel curbs. This makes export management difficult as there is a huge disruption in transportable schedules.
As social distancing has become the new normal, industries will try to manage activities virtually/digitally as far as possible. Now, that becomes a challenge to comprehend the virtual audits and virtual inspections on camera every time.
So, what is the solution?
The reopening of the economy here doesn't look like an upfront exercise. While revamping frugality is important, it’s also vital to maintain hygiene and health. This means India needs to be defensible and extra thoughtful while opening up.
Health preparedness is required. Also, industries are required to be equipped with their list of permitted and non-permitted activities in order to maintain constancy. Additionally, they should be aware of all the strategies that restrict movements.
Tight synchronization and communication is the need of the hour at all stages. Industries should maintain coordination with stakeholders, government, and be updated with the occurrences.
The future is indeed uncertain and eventualities can come up anytime. So, it’s better to be prepared for the worst while trying to achieve the best.