Indian Economy was in a state of recovery before the COVID-19 crisis impacted the lives of over 130 crore people. As the entire world awaits a medical ray of hope, the consistent damage to the economy, especially one as delicate as India, cannot be ignored. Policy analyst Deepak Talwar says that we need to take reasonable risks to restore economic prosperity as the pandemic is expected to engulf the entire year, but economic damage by the end of 2020 could be irreparable. Keeping this in mind, here are four steps that can be considered as initial milestones on the road to Indian economic restoration:-
Portal for skill identification
In June, the Uttar Pradesh government saw an influx of 32 lakh migrant workers from different parts of the country and out of this, 23.5 lakh successfully underwent a call-based survey for skill mapping. The idea is to form a database of these people which consists of their personal information, work skill under 94 categories, and preference of state to work in. A national level application of this model could create a reliable one-stop source for worker information, thereby streamlining the manpower need of various MSMEs and promote equal access to employment opportunities.
Re-opening Local Shops
Policy analyst Deepak Talwar says that local shops are the backbone of community. This has to two aspects: re-opening and customer stigma. During Unlock 1.0, fair numbers of shops have re-opened with sanitization norms and odd-even market schemes while others fear the impact of customer stigma. COVID-19 has sowed the seeds of fear among people and thus, they prefer to shop online via Grofers, Big Basket, JioMart, etc, instead of visiting their local shopkeeper. However, awareness needs to be spread among people in order to empower local sellers and restore economic as well as psychological normality.
Improved policies for workers
Employer negligence has gained spotlight during the migrant crisis due to the absence of medical care, sanitation services, employee benefits, worker database, and basic pandemic support. In such cases, corporate barons and industrial magnates need to re-evaluate their policies for workers. This may include shifting them from daily wage to project or monthly employment, assisting them with ration card and similar documentation, improved incentives, and health covers. People working in factories have long working hours, which makes them prone to health hazards. It is high time that employers realize their responsibilities and take a stand for workers.
Factories have been a source of bulk employment for labour since decades. While skilled workers operate machinery, its counterpart looks after logistics and packaging. Re-opening factories can set off a chain reaction which re-creates the balance of worker ratio present in the states and further, promotes product push in the markets. With the festival season inbound, clothing, gold, and other industries have a big opportunity to restore market functioning. However, “factories need to be re-opened in a safe manner,” says Deepak Talwar, in order to avoid adverse circumstances. This includes promoting work from home, free masks to workers, and availability of sanitizers across the factory for extreme precaution.
An amalgamation of these four steps has great potential to restore Indian economic prosperity. Undoubtedly, it will be a time consuming and tedious process, but a swift action today is the only way towards a brighter future tomorrow. COVID-19 has changed the way people look at the world and it is time that their livelihoods are restored to revive the old definition of normal.