I guess by now most of you would have seen the “Video Blog” I published last week... titled “COVID-19 VS ECONOMY”. I am writing this to a widespread community hence the English used here is just … very simple and straight.
My last video blog explains the sufferings caused to millions of people due to this pandemic and the on-going anxiety that persists… from children to senior citizens. This new lifestyle has impacted the whole fabric of our lives… causing fear... many restrictions... and so on. Even though I do not believe in speculating on Covid-19, I am also living in the hope that in the near future this will be behind us. I must reiterate that the final solution will depend on the release of the vaccine and effective therapeutics.
Now let me try to address my views on how to contain this pandemic in the interim. Straight off the bat I can tell you that enforcing strict laws and creating disruption to human lives and businesses is not the answer. We should stay away from draconian practices. History tells us even during World War II, no borders were closed… lives were lost every day but during this time everyone worked hard to retain their economies. So, the answer is simple… best solution is "self-discipline".
Everyone must say to one self, "I don't want to get infected by Covid-19". Even though Science has proven that Covid-19 attacks mostly the vulnerable people with preexisting conditions, the youngsters have a feeling that this disease attacks only older people and that they could do anything they want, including blatantly violating the guide lines issued by the respective governments. I am not a Scientist nor a Doctor, but as a person who has lived in the most affected area in the world, New York, we all have learnt to handle the situation based on various advise that were provided by the experts. Till such time we get to the point of receiving the vaccination, the only solution is "self-discipline".
Here in USA (the world epicenter) the federal government nor the states have created any fear factor amongst people. However, there are rules in place and most of the public complies. Businesses are open, factories function and no word of lock down. No permission is required from authorities to get on the road to visit their children and parents across state lines… life is normal… at the same time people are self-conscious of the dangers.
Contrary to the above, today in India I see lock downs/closures of certain regions and declaring even small areas as containment areas. I am also getting the feeling that the actions are not being executed in a scientific manner. One day a particular area is deemed to be safe and the next day that same area has been brought under containment... which means no one leaves their homes and all industries in that location must shut. How can a business establishment handle this? one day we muster workers... work for a week and the following week again the same area is shut and we have to send the workers home… It is extremely challenging!
Now let’s examine some facts and figures about the area where I live at this time. As of writing this blog, 32,464 people have died in New York and 15,943 have died in New Jersey, making the total of 48407 deaths. The population of New York/New Jersey combined is approximately 18 million. Now let me compare this to the city I am born in and where I have commercial and non-commercial interests; Kochi, Kerala, India. The population of Kerala is 34.8 million and the population of Kochi is 2.1 million, and as on date the total deaths in Kerala is 233 people and in Kochi it is 32. Kudos to the Government, Administrators, Police personnel etc. for maintaining these safe numbers. But why are we still under restrictions? These restrictive actions are hurting millions of people…
If the authorities still fear, then we should closedown the entire affected areas for 6 months and reopen after we capture covid! These old fashioned policies will then take us to the next threat… "An economic pandemic".
Now I want to address the biggest pandemic which is the “economic pandemic”. The world economy is in trouble, including the United States of America. For India, inward remittances will be impacted because of the Gulf situation. Exports have fallen and continue to fall. I am also expecting a serious contraction to our GDP which may even lead to recession. There is a lot of unknown factors today and unless and until we allow businesses to function, I am afraid there are bad days ahead. We need action and not outdated techniques.
People who are reading this blog must understand that I am writing this purely from a practical point of view and not based on the predictions like an economist. I feel I can go shoulder to shoulder with a Harvard graduate on discussing and debating about operating an economy. The Kerala government must take a more pragmatic view in handling the economy by permitting businesses to function or else I suggest they let the entire businesses in Kerala to shut down for 6 months and the government to handle the situation and give these business houses the necessary financial support. There can be separate guidelines issued to the business owners for operating the factories and establishments.
I also have another question? Today the practice is if an employee’s family member contracts covid… I believe the local authorities asks the establishment where they work for to be shut… if this is the case what happens if an employee at the cochin refinery tests positive? Will we shut down the refinery resulting in no fuel supplies?? Someone in the government should take a relook at this…
The government should also look at giving concessions to shop owners by not collecting GST, Electricity charges, local taxes, etc. and this will be a reprieve for the common man. This will encourage everyone to sit at home till the pandemic is done with. The banks too must not penalize the common man and entrepreneurs for not meeting their debt obligations to the bank. Re-structuring of loans now offered is only an extension of a disease like cancer. Dear readers… please make a choice… destroy covid and kill the economy or battle it with balance knowing that the vaccine is near? You must decide …
I must appeal to everyone reading this blog to please circulate this among your friends and family for the sake of our economy. To the Administrators reading this blog, all I can say is “please help our State”. Please balance covid-19 and the economy!
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