Fighting economic impact of Coronavirus

While the number of COVID-19 affected people in the country is going up steadily, still the position is not that precarious as in other countries looking to the size of the country and the population figures. We have almost completed two weeks of country wide lockdown and within next remaining seven days, the picture will become more clear like in time, we realised the gravity of the situation and took timely steps to control it and not let it slip into stage three, the other part of the battle, equally challenging, is how to fight its impact on our economy. That part of the battle is of no less importance. Prudence and discretion based on efficient judgment of the things demanded that plans were prepared, priorities listed, major decisions taken, targets fixed and situations emerging on micro levels resolved. We cannot agree more with the Prime Minister in saying that the battle against Corona-virus was going to be long and that the economic impact was to be fought out on a war footing, side by side.
We have learnt a few lessons from the present crisis , an unprecedented one in its nature and impact, that dependence on other countries in critical requirements needed to be kept to the barest possible minimum which the PM too has referred to while recently chairing a cabinet meeting. Depending too much on some countries for supplying raw materials like for our pharmaceutical and other industries and promoting imports even for commodities which have been the products of our traditional cottage industry have given us some bitter lessons and that is why the Prime Minister has seen a golden line in the darkest clouds of the impact of corona virus, that of providing an opportunity to boost the ‘Make in India’ initiative. Agreed, the threat of the virus limits us to at once open as before but only in phased manner and that too with caution for which the remaining days of lockdown provide to us an opportunity to observe it more strictly and rule out any possibility of any ‘hotspots’ existing let alone sprouting of new ones. That can simply not be afforded any more.
Each and every sector of the economy is effected which has to be put in recovery process through proper planning and evolving strategies. Social distancing is an integral part of the fight against the dreaded virus but its fallout has resulted in sharp slowdown in economic activity too, especially in our services sector. The Government must mull over the possibility of reviewing and replacing retail spending as a measure of fiscal stimulus because that can mitigate the economic impact. Verily, therefore, the Prime Minister has urged the Ministries to prepare a ‘business continuity plan’. Since obviously all issues cannot be tackled and resolved simultaneously which can be visualised only by making some rough estimates of losses and grave impacts, therefore, select areas are to be focused on. The PM has therefore, rightly asked the Ministers to prepare a list of 10 priority areas of focus to match with 10 major decisions. While that was going to address immediate impact, at the same time, the same should not be at the cost of implementation of pending reforms. There lies the efficiency of the respective Ministries.
It is extremely important that conditions are not created in any part of the country that protocol of the lockdown is breached which helps in the pandemic lasting longer. It should recede fast in the remaining week looking to the quick measures and proactive initiatives, right at the start, taken by the Government in fighting the virus. Our industries are already plunged into stress for which Business Continuity Plans needed to be prepared so that some stimulus could be given to boosting manufacturing process and exports do not get fixed at stagnant levels. For that, new sectors needed to be added into the net of country’s exports.
Our overall economic activities and revival process are not the thing of a few months or a year or so but apart from the magnitude of impact on our economy, the situation needed to be seen and assessed in the light of the Corona virus having caused the world entering into a period of recession and that was bound to affect our economic revival. Various international forums of economic bailout like the International Monetary Fund has already sounded the warning bells as recession was going to limit the liquidity position with each affected economy but we have better hopes from our agricultural sector. Our rural sector has, thank heavens, remained free from the direct impact of the virus and agricultural yield was going to be at normal expected levels. However, to rule out any adverse impact of the virus on farmers, the PM has asked the Ministers to explore the ways to connect them with the Mandis and use the solutions like ‘truck aggregators’. Indians have, on the whole, exhibited exemplary patience and observance of the lockdown with fortitude and resolve, they need to fight the economic impact too with the same zeal collectively and emerge victorious.