India’s Covid crisis: Future tense

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India is now running the risk of financial turmoil. The hopes of its recovery have been foiled by the second wave of Covid-19. Not only India the Covid-19 virus has even endangered the global economic recovery. The drop in employment for India has been projected to go up by 50 percent. In a recent survey of Asia, the estimated wage income losses for the region have been estimated to range anywhere from $348 billion to $533 billion as against the global loss of $1.3 to $1.8 trillion. And this is just the early estimate. Given the low earnings of the working class in India, its impact would be devastating. There are many other lingering risks clouding the regional outlook stated in an ADBI working paper on “Macroeconomic Impact of COVID-19 in Developing Asia” while warning that risks of financial turmoil and financial crises cannot be discounted. The already devastated employment sector has been severely impacted after the pandemic hit. It was in early 2021 that things had started picking up but the second wave of the virus has dashed all the hopes of an improvement. Additionally, around 6 in 10 workers in the country are in the informal economy. This category of people is at high risk of slipping into poverty.
Not only is this luxury not available to 99 per cent of the Indians, even the top one per cent cannot afford to stay at home to avoid the coronavirus. If their workplaces open, they have to go to work. Others have to go out to run their factories, shops, restaurants and dealerships. The only people who can isolate themselves successfully are the super-rich. Jobs in the informal economy had already been reeling under the economic slowdown of the country even before the pandemic hit India. The second wave is just acting as a catalyst in its story of devastation. If the first wave of the pandemic had dampened the spirit of migrant workers, having to fend for themselves during the lockdown in 2020, the second wave has shattered their hopes of recovery. With many states now opting for partial or full lockdown, the local business is suffering the same fate. It is either debt or the virus for many small traders and businessmen.
Having said this, these are trying times and no economy has been able to evade the virus-induced slowdown. The virus has affected the global economy as a whole and no economy would be able to return to pre-Covid scenarios any time soon. The lockdowns and restrictions are here to stay and we will have to steer through it. Many lives depend on our acceptance of the ground situation in the country. Containing the spread of the virus is the only way out if we want to return to pre-Covid times and fast. The government and frontline workers are working round the clock to ensure that every adult is vaccinated as soon as possible. Our responsibility as the citizens of the country is to adhere to the protocols and ensure that everyone around us does the same. It is the time to stick together and co-operate to win the war against the virus and this time for good.

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