- Unanticipated and unexpected pandemic courtesy COVID-19 in 2020 did rage the humankind like never seen before. The economic meltdown experienced alongside fatality and livelihood hardships is also instrumental in raising valid questions as to how to address the downturn witnessed consequently in several sectors. None of the industries and businesses that were left untouched by the rampaging pandemic menace is stating the obvious. Apart from the veritable loss of precious lives and livelihood, people were left scarred mentally owing to the uncertainty associated with the virulent virus was a huge deciding factor that set the tone for everything else.
- Apart from shoring up healthcare infrastructure anticipating droves of infected people to throng hospitals for treatment, the government across the globe were confronted with the challenges of ensuring the deprived lot are not going to bed hungry in the absence of means to earn a decent livelihood. The stringent lockdowns halting every single activity to curb movements, proximity to others, and avoiding crowd forming was taught to be one of the measures to flatten the virus curve from spreading further. As country after country embraced strict lockdowns as a tool to check the virus spread, economic challenges too did mount to gargantuan proportions.
- The Indian government was one of the earliest countries to enforce what is now considered the stringent lockdowns for 44 days. We all are aware of how the situation unfolded on the back of the lockdowns and none would ever forget the turmoil, hardships, and trauma encountered by the migrant laborer community. Images of scores of migrants trudging along the highways would remain etched in the memories forever. It is interesting to note how both the developed and developing countries responded in mitigating the extreme hardships faced by their populace. Most of the countries opted for varied stimulus packages to buffer the suffering of their people.
PC: S.S. Kumar
- To its credit, New Delhi too was not averse to the idea of facilitating any such moves that would provide much-needed succor and comfort to the majority of the people who are identified with the unorganized sector. Free rations and direct benefit transfer into individual accounts were promptly extended to below poverty line cardholders largely covering the lower strata of the society. As the economy was slowing down even before the pandemic struck, a complete shutdown of economic activities did have a debilitating effect the past whole year as the GDP figures show hurtling the nation into never heard before contraction.
- The only palpable way to get out of the conundrum is to press ahead with the long-overdue reformist measures that are underway in some of the key sectors like agriculture, banking, insurance, and infrastructure as announced in the recent Budget. Stimulus packages have a shelf-life of a certain period offering some cushion unlike all-weather reforms implemented with far-reaching vision and bold but imaginatively rational ideas carrying enough wherewithal to usher in welcome changes in the long run. Thus, laying tremendous emphasis on reforms far outweighs the instant reliefs of stimulus packages. Thrust, hence, should be unequivocally placed on reforms.