April 24, 2020
TOPIC: Covid – 19: India and Economy
India Co-Win Action Network (I-CAN) is a unique movement to combat the pandemic through an online platform by connecting those who are in need of help with those who can provide it. Under the same initiative, banners of events are conducted to keep the audience involved and also evolved during the time of crisis. I-CAN Conversation series conducted an online session on ‘India and Economy’ with Dr. Shamika Ravi. She is a senior fellow at Brookings Institution, Washington D.C and a former member of PM’s Economic Advisory Council, India.
Compiled by Suzanne Khan
The world’s biggest lockdown that shut a majority of the factories and businesses, suspended flights, stopped trains and restricted movement of vehicles and people has cost the Indian Economy Rs.7-8 Lakh Crore during the period. This impact has strained the whole country including the economic analysts in India. Dr. Shamika being a former member of the advisory council shared her fears, remarks as well as the solutions on the withering state of the Indian Economy.
Talking about health and education, Dr. Ravi mentioned that the growth of the country depends on its human capital and it’s impossible to run a country with an unhealthy and illiterate population. In that segment, given how large the country is, our country always had pockets of excellence such as the I.T department etc. In such circumstances, it is important to realize that health and education have been clubbed as ‘social sectors’. Given this mindset, officials don’t want to be posted in these departments and therefore consider it as punishment posting even if they are posted. This overall is a state of pity and serves as a wake-up call.
The session then focused its attention on the current statistics of COVID-19 in India and the other major hotspots of the world. Dr. Ravi also made a presentation on the same to make the situation in the country clearer to the viewers. As of April 23, India had just 23,000 cases compared to the other European countries which is an impressive mark given the size of the country. This same trend is followed in death rates in the country. In the beginning the cases began to rise up in the country but the government with its proactive decisions, deliberations and actions controlled the situation from worsening and therefore kept the overall situation in the country under control.
Following the discussion at the country level, Dr. Ravi focused on the state-wise developments of the same. She appreciated the efforts of the government of Kerala and north-eastern states as well. To delve a bit deeper into the spread of the virus, she then went on to focus on confirmed cases per 100 tests and India had a remarkable progress there as well. All of this impressive figure was a result of the early lockdown implemented by Indian Government. Before the situation could turn dire, Indian government tilted it to being contained.
Despite this remarkable progress, one issue has always been a worrisome one for all the citizens and that is the steep growth of the unemployment level in the country. Even before the lockdown this was one of the major issues faced by the Indian Government. This situation is growing serious during the pandemic given the large size of the unemployment bracket. In context to this, Dr Ravi remarked that right now the labor force participation is declining due to the prevalent crisis in the country. People want to sit safely confined to the walls of their homes. However, the more serious issue is that this fear will still be prevalent after the lockdown. Here, public policy comes as rescue and helps in delegating the fear.
It is a tough time for all of us and so is with the government of the country. Talking about the possible solutions on the economic situation prevalent in the country, Dr. Ravi said, “ We have to be smart about it and have to focus majorly on capital expenditure. Road connectivity definitely needs attention and repairmen, but we need health-care too. India has to build the health-care sector as the future engine of growth. It truly has the potential. Let’s train more and more doctors and nurses. Provide them with safety, good salary and provide them incentives.”
On such a positive and hopeful note, Dr Ravi ended the session stating that to learn from your rich Indian Culture, it is the basis we need to spur the growth of the Indian Economy. Overall, the session ended with a clearer picture of the Indian Economy in the minds of the viewers.
Key Highlights of the Conversation:
- Health and Education shouldn’t be clubbed as social sectors and this attitude needs to be altered.
- The growth rate as well as death rates in India are impressive as compared to other European Countries. All this is due to the early lockdown implemented by the government and its pro-active decisions.
- Unemployment is a worrisome issue for the whole country. However, this can be resolved through good policy making that delegates the fear in working class regarding the virus and keeps them assured of the social- distancing after lockdown.
- The Indian Government needs to focus on capital expenditure mainly including road connectivity, health and education. We need to train more doctors and nurses so that we are able to cover up for the brain drains. They need to be provided with required salaries, safety as well as incentives.
- We need to learn from our rice culture and create a road map on its basis.