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Last updated: 13 Apr, 2021  

Covid.9.thmb.jpg Covid second wave: Lockdown or no lockdown

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Bikky Khosla | 13 Apr, 2021

The second wave of Covid-19 is now sweeping over the country, with the new cases count crossing 1.5 lakhs for the first time on April 11. Stock market indices are plummeting on concerns of fresh localised lockdowns. Foreign portfolio investors are pulling out investments worth crores of rupees from the bourses. The INR is continuing to depreciate, breaching the 75 per US dollar mark. Such developments have brought forth the question again – is our economy being derailed?

The Indian industry is concerned as well, with recent findings clearly reflecting this apprehension. According to a latest CII survey 75 per cent of the 710 CEOs polled are of the view that this time emphasis should be given on stringent implementation of safety norms instead of going for restrictions and partial lockdowns, which may lead to massive loss of their production. Also, the ongoing vaccination drive should be pushed vigorously. No doubt, this view holds weight.

In a similar tone, a garment industry body has urged the government to keep factories free from lockdowns. It also requested for essential service sector tag for the labour-intensive apparel export sector. The body adds that the industry got back on track only recently and now renewed lockdowns may make last one year of hard work fruitless. This concern seems to be applicable to other sectors as well, and the government should pay heed to it. We need to tackle the pandemic in a smarter way this time.

Meanwhile, a small business report based on global data points out that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India have reported higher rates of closure than their global peers, with 32 per cent (rising from 24 per cent in October and dropping from 46 per cent in May) reporting they were closed at the time of the survey. This happened despite the Centre doing a lot for the sector during the pandemic period. So, this time a change in approach is what we all call for.

I invite your opinions.
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