Published in Free Press Journal Indore Edition:

In Chinese language there is no word that translates to threat. Infact they have a word called “Weichi”, which means both threat and opportunity. COVID19 has spread concern, anxiety and uncertainty not only in global demography but also in global economy. As per Mr. Kozul-Wright, Director Globalisation and Development Strategies at UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), the global economy is likely to slow down drastically and cost approximately USD 1 trillion. India stands to lose approximately USD 348 million. Infact one dooms day scenario predicts a loss of approximately loss of USD 2 trillion to the global economy. The major cause being slow down in manufacturing in China among other factors. The estimates are approximate USD 50 billion decrease in exports across value chain from China. What does it have in store for India which is already reeling under economic slowdown since last financial year? We may see further job cuts, inflation and bumpy all round growth across value chains. As per UNCTAD the sector that is likely to get hit maximum is the oil and gas. In short, the government will also have to deal with intense socio-economic pressures possibly never seen before. Does it imply that there is no way out of this adversity, my sense is that every threat has an opportunity lurking in its shadow? 

           In order to identify the opportunities, we need to leverage our strengths. We have a large internal market. India is poised to be the third largest consumer market as per Economics Times. Therefore there is an inherent market for goods produced in India. In a COVID scenario the costs may be a dampener but with better and efficient manufacturing processes, we should be able to work on the cost and quality of products being manufactured in the country. Further, we should not only cater for domestic markets but also focus on our exports, after all slowdown in Chinese exports will pave the way for others to fill the space. It only requires some dedicated approach and sincere effort both by the public and private sectors. 

           As regards the social concern of COVID 19 menace in India is concerned, I endorse the view expressed by Sandipan Deb in Parallax view on Live Mint that Indians have a very strong immune system unparalleled   anywhere in the world. Quoting examples he says SARS killed over 1000 people across the world but in India only 3 people were killed. Adding further he says, “Approximately 37,000 people died of flue between 2010-11 to 2018-19 in the US and in comparison India saw only 1,103 people die per year with population four times that of US. We are built to last.” What does it imply, it clearly highlights that we would be emerging almost scratch free and our youth dividend will remain intact and available for work in production lines across the value chain. We need to encourage our startups and make in India initiatives to expand and widen their base. I am conscious that these initiative take time but then once we overcome the initial hurdles we would emerge stronger and possibly bridge the economic gap further. One needs to only look back to 1998, when our space program was struck due to denial of critical rocket engine technology post Pokharan II explosions leading to ISRO developing indigenous solution. Decades down the line we are a force to reckon with in Space Technology.

            I would like to end with quote of Kautilya, “Once you start working on something, don’t be afraid of failure and don’t abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest”. We can emerge stronger provided we are focused and dedicated in our approach at all levels following a whole of humanity approach.

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