By Arré Bench Apr. 13, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation at 10 am tomorrow, as the 21-day lockdown comes to an end. There might be some relaxation of rules; construction work and manufacturing in autos and textiles might resume with social distancing norms in place.
With the initial lockdown period of 21 days coming to an end, and murmurs around a two-week extension grow louder, can India afford to continue halting all economic activity? A few ministers have resumed work. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of State for Youth Affairs Kiren Rijiju, Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel along with a few senior officials made their way to their offices.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on Tuesday at 10 am and while the lockdown might be extended, there will be a few exceptions. A complete shutdown has consequences, and the ones to be the most affected are the country’s marginalised.
Economic activity MUST START in designated areas with proper rules. Millions will else face death due to starvation. Fighting #Covid_19 shouldn’t push India towards famine. #CoronavirusOutbreakindia https://t.co/MyAsQNH5iB
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) April 13, 2020
Lawyer and activist Prashant Bushan cited data which said over 12 crore Indians have lost employment over the past two weeks. Assuming eight crore of them are the main or only earners in the family, two-thirds of the country’s 25-crore household could face a livelihood crisis.
Data shows:"12 Cr Indians have lost employment over the last two weeks. Let us assume that 8 Cr of these are the main or the only earner of their family. So, 2/3 of the country’s 25 crore households could be facing a livelihood crisis": #lockdownextension? https://t.co/UI2TVygUxE
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) April 10, 2020
After a meeting with Chief Ministers on Saturday, PM Modi had indicated that there will be relaxation in certain areas to ensure the survival of the economy.
Red, orange and green, the colour code of our traffic lights, will now be used to detect sensitive as well as virus-free zones, and facilitate movement of people accordingly.
— NDTV (@ndtv) April 12, 2020
Green zones will be districts with no Covid-19 cases, orange zones will be places with less than 15 cases and which have not seen an increase in positive cases. In these areas, limited public transport and harvesting of farm products will be allowed. Red zones will be those with more than 15 cases, and no activity will be allowed here.
Coronavirus India: Red, Orange, Green Zones To Mark Coronavirus Spots In Country – very sensible approach to assess economic activity based on risk level @acorn @kris_sg @iamanilshetty @drashwathcn @Tejasvi_Surya https://t.co/KSEk2VghkK
— Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (@kiranshaw) April 12, 2020
On April 10, the Union ministry had exempted fishing operations, which includes harvesting, selling, and marketing, from the purview of the lockdown. Construction of highways in safe districts might be permitted, reported Business Standard. The industries ministry has recommended restarting some manufacturing in the autos, textiles, defence, electronics and other sectors, according to a Reuters report.
Over 15 other sectors that could be partially opened include heavy electrical items like transformers and circuit vehicles, telecom equipment and components including optic fibre cable, compressor and condenser units, steel and ferrous alloy mills, spinning and ginning mills, power looms, defence and defence ancillary units, cement plants, pulp and paper units, fertiliser plants, paints and dyes manufacturing, all types of food and beverages-related industries, seeds processing units, plastic manufacturing units, automotive units, gems and jewellery sector units (big and organised) and all units in Special Economic Zones and export-oriented units.
It has also been stated that industrial units that are allowed to operate must meet five conditions – single-entry point for workers, sufficient space to ensure social distancing, separate transport to ferry workers if they can’t be accommodated on the premises and high quality regular sanitisation of the premises. Authorities are expected to ensure strict observance of these conditions.
The Union home ministry has been asked to look into the possibility of letting a select group of industries resume production to revive economic activity
(report by Shishir Gupta) https://t.co/jgKT4OosJB
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) April 12, 2020
According to the World Bank, India is likely to record its worst growth performance since the 1991 liberalisation, with growth pegged at 1.5-2.8% for FY21. But a partial opening of some sectors, might provide us some relief.