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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Stay in or out? India yet to find answer amid Covid-19 & economic crisis

The specters of Covid-19 and economic crisis loom large. But India is yet to find an effective strategy that can tackle both. With tardy reopening of businesses amid highest daily infection rate, the Centre seems to be in great dilemma.

Even after 61 days of stringent lockdown, India’s Covid-19 cases are still proliferating. The nation’s domestic flights resumed on May 25 that saw the highest single-day spike of infections so far with around 7,000 cases.

But India couldn’t have waited for few more days as the aviation industry is already gasping for breath. The Centre must deal with the Covid-19 and economic crisis simultaneously now.

The stay-at-home rules failed to curb the infection rate, rather it collapsed the entire economy. According to Moody’s Investors Service, India’s economy will cease to grow this financial year as it suffered a “deep shock” owing to the coronavirus crisis. Therefore, India had to resume its domestic flight services. And it happened on a day when India officially became the top 10 worst-hit countries by the pandemic. People have started stepping out for work, being less worried about the virus and more concerned about their livelihood.

Baby steps towards normalcy

  • From high-end cars to power, mobile phones, grocery, edibles and construction materials, the demand is slowly rising in all sectors. Especially in May when several economic relaxations were announced.
  • Companies are also adopting new strategies to draw business amid the pandemic crisis.
  • Experts hope that with hundreds of migrant laborers reaching their native land, the rural development projects will get a boost. They believe if the May demand hits 60 per cent of the normal demand, it will be 70 per cent in June.
  • Road and bridge construction projects will speed up, so will the Metro plans.
  • The domestic demand is rising in the steel sector as well.

“For us domestic constitutes 70 per cent of sales, with the rest from exports. That scenario got reversed in April, but now things have improved and we have some orders.” – RD SHARMA, MD, Jindal Steel and Power, source: Business Standard.

Interestingly, India will allow more and more relaxations in all sectors in next two months that are crucial in terms of the Covid-19 crisis. “Health care infrastructures needs to be ramped up for the next two months with focus on isolation beds with oxygen, venilators and ICU beds,” A PIB press release said recently.

No solid plan yet to handle Covid-19 and economic crisis together

The people of India are divided over the Centre’s way of handling the crises. Because they know that they will soon resume their everyday activities with the more virus-infested outside than when the lockdown began. Many are also questioning the lockdown’s success. Others allege it has been very leaky and unplanned.

Scientists and health experts believe that the second wave of the virus may attack late July or August, weeks after the lockdown is fully lifted. Therefore, it is a challenge for a government of 1.3 billion people to ensure physical distancing and contain the virus’s spread.

Maharashtra still remains to be the worst-affected state with over 50,000 cases even after lockdown 4.0. The scene is equally bleak in Mumbai, the country’s business capital. Now, the state is reportedly planning for lockdown 5.0 till June 15. Will Maharashtra be able to contain the virus’s spread in next 20 days, the task it has failed to do so far? Should the Centre need to chalk out a special plan for the top five worst-hit states? These questions are making rounds in the social media.

But staying in home in fear of contracting the virus is getting costlier with each day, be it financially, psychologically or sociologically.

The overall health scene, minus corona, is full of myriad issues. Medicines at state-run hospitals and rural healthcare centres are either lying unused or nearing their expiry dates. Because hardly anyone comes up for treatment amid the lockdown. Private practice of doctors has been halted for months now. Patients of common or even chronic illness are either opting for online consultation or living without any healthcare facilities.

Lockdown 5.0 on the cards?

The Himachal Pradesh government has extended the lockdown till June 30 in some parts of the state, including Solan and Hamirpur. Now if Himachal with just 214 cases can extended the lockdown for another five weeks, Maharashtra will definitely follow the suit! Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Gujarat, Delhi and West Bengal might also seek more time to allow further economic relaxations.

Maybe only time can tell how and when the unprecedented crises will dissolve. And we will roam on the streets freely and socialise with each other unhindered. Time will also underscore the revolutionary Darwinian theory of Survival of the Fittest, yet again.

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