Guwahati, March 26, 2020:
The global coronavirus pandemic, according to experts, is signaling at a simultaneous battle that India will have to fight in order to survive and protect the interests of its people. Economic Pandemic, as they have termed it, is just a few months away if proper measures are not taken right away.
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With ‘quarantine’ and ‘lockdown’ in trend, offices have been shut, transport has been stopped, restaurants have been closed, hotels have also been shut down and in smaller places, if need arises, the Governments will take over these to utilize for quarantine purpose.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced an economic relief package to sustain during the lockdown period. It has the Garib Kalyan Yojana, which aims to benefit 80 crore poor or two-third of the population by providing them with 5 kg rice or wheat free for the next three months. 8 crore Below-Poverty-Line (BPL) families will be given free cylinders also for the next three months.
“We have come with a package that will immediately help those affected directly, those migrants workers, urban and rural poor. We are looking both at cash transfers as well as food security measures,” Sitharaman said earlier today, while announcing the benefits.
For the daily wage earners, the Finance Minister said that the State Governments will be directed to use Funds under Buildings and other Construction Workers Act. She said, “It has Rs 31,000 crore in it. It has 3.5 crore registered workers. We intent to tell states to utilize this fund to provide assistance to workers.”
The section of daily wage workers or the ones living from hand to mouth have emerged as the worst-hit of all the other sections of the society. As the FM has put, the registered ones can benefit from the fund. The number of those who had been working without registering is yet to be known and the ways for their sustenance is also yet to be known.
According to the International Labour Organization, at least 90% of India’s workforce is employed in the informal sector. These are also the same people who remain away from latest updates. There is a communication gap as well, which makes them more vulnerable as these people would need and take time to learn about their benefits and ways to avail them.
Who will face the brunt of the lockdown?
The informal sector. The jobs, which cannot be done from home and the workers will be worst-hit during the economic pandemic. Daily wage laborers who survive on their daily fuel and have no reserves will be hit and are at risk of losing everything within a couple of months. A ban on movement, a ban on work and therefore, a ban on their hard-earned money is in store for the remaining days of the lockdown.
According to experts, relief packages would aid in stabilizing the coronavirus-led economic pandemic, however, there is no assurance of things falling back into place.
According to a FICCI survey, at least 50% of the businesses in India had reported a certain amount of impact following the lockdown. The LIVE events industries has also seen an estimated loss of Rs. 3,000 crore.
Major manufacturing companies in India have temporarily suspended or significantly reduced operations in a number of their facilities. Nearly all two-wheeler and four-wheeler companies have put a stop to production till further notice. Many companies have decided to remain closed till April 14. Foxconn and Wistron Corp, iPhone producers have also suspended their production due to the lockdown.
All the operations barring the essentials in metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad and many more have been shut. Lakhs of the working population who had been living there solely for financial purposes have been left with the uncertainty factor and can also be called as the immediate impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Layoffs During Lockdown on the Cards
According to Economic Times report, the Hotel & Tourism Industry, which employs 4 crore people expects to cut down at least 12 lakh jobs, thereby adding to a revenue loss of Rs 11,000 crore.
Aviation industry, which is worth 2.2 lakh crore, employs 3.5 lakh people and the expected revenue loss is Rs 4,200 crore in just April-June period.
The retail industry of India is a 59 lakh crore industry. It employs 4.6 crore people. With the pandemic lasting for the next three months, a total of 1.1 crore jobs will be cut. Restaurants, according to ET, employ 73 lakh people and 14 lakh people could lose their jobs.
Ola and UBER or the cab facilities have over 5 million driver partners. These businesses have dropped from 40-50% during the lockdown.
With the world staring at an economic collapse and all the major industries at a standby, the biggest factor that has emerged from this phase is the uncertainty of the consumerist economy. India’s BPL population, which mainly dwells in rural areas, has so far not shown a great affinity for securing the benefits accorded to them. Many live hand-to-mouth and do not have bank accounts. Will the Government’s hastily pronounced relief packages ameliorate the needy? And, in case the lockdown continues to extend beyond the assigned period, as is expected, will the Indian Middle-Class survive the impact?
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