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How India acts now will determine its next decade

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MUMBAI : The sharp rise in Covid cases has put India in a Catch-22 situation. On one hand, we need to save lives (so the partial lockdown) and, on the other, we need to keep the wheels of the economy turning to save livelihoods. A complete lockdown, like the one we had last year, will not work well now as India will not be able to withstand yet another body-blow to the economy. Barclays, for example, says the current partial lockdown is hurting the Indian economy to the tune of $1.25 billion a week. The impact of a prolonged lockdown is bound to be more significant. Add to that the repercussions on MSMEs, small businesses, to labourers and India’s vast middle class.

The government must pull out all stops to ensure vaccine production is increased, approval extended to more pharma companies to produce the vaccine at the earliest, and special incentives given to ramp up production capacities. We must be ready to give the vaccine to all Indians who need it, irrespective of age. As a nation, we cannot have a more important priority.

At the same time, special care must be taken for the states that are the core industrial hubs, namely Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan. Rising cases in these states have already curbed mobility significantly. India is an alternate location for global manufacturing and supply chain for companies who wish to move out of China, and we potentially risk losing out on this massive opportunity if we do not get better at managing the current Covid situation and if intermittent lockdowns, partial or otherwise, persist.

A flagging economy will also severely impact job creation, given India’s growing young population, which in turn can affect the government’s popularity among the masses and hence impact political stability.

Whatever be the eventual course we take, the political leadership – by that I mean both the Centre and the States – must put aside their differences and work together. For what we have this time is not just a humanitarian crisis but a potential economic crisis. The way we act now in 2021 will determine India’s next decade.

Source : Author- Mr.Shashi Kiran Shetty Blog

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