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Situation Improving?


A number of countries, including the US, Germany and New Zealand have claimed that the viral pandemic has peaked and it is time to revive the economy. It will take at least another week before there can be any certainty in this matter, but should this be true, the earlier the major economies get down to addressing revival issues, the better it will be for the world. China, which is seeing something of a resurgence in corona cases, is all the same beginning to take the lead in assisting other nations in the fight against the epidemic, despite questions being raised about the quality of the equipment it is supplying. All of this is cause for hope that things will get better within a few months, although many things will change in the way people live their lives.

India, in the meanwhile, is at the tip of the whip, still at a stage where slip-ups could make the problem get considerably worse. Although it is not the only country where there is resistance from people to lockdown and other measures because of political, religious and economic reasons, it can use the experience of others to deal with the issues. A major challenge repeatedly emerging is that of migrants wanting to get home, owing to the difficult conditions they are facing in their places of work. The blame for this falls squarely on the state and city governments, which have failed to make proper arrangements for them. Every city has places where these people could have been kept with some comfort and centrally provided food, instead of trying to reach them individually in various locations. The recent flash mobs, probably instigated for various reasons, have brought this problem squarely into the limelight and forced governments to take action. Hopefully, more will be done as it is unlikely these people will be allowed to travel home in the near future. They might not even want to as an increasing number of sectors are gradually going to be opened up, requiring labour.

Sectors of the economy that are linked to international trade and supply chains also need to prepare to take advantage of the stimulus likely to be initiated by the wealthy countries. One important way of doing this would be to provide a price advantage, which has thus far been the USP of China and the South-East Asian countries. Domestically, too, all those companies that were loath to dispose of piling inventories by lowering prices before the crisis, should learn the necessary lesson and play their role in pump-priming the economy rather than leave it to just the government. That would be so much better than going bankrupt.