Parimal Nathwani, Ahmedabad: At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on countries across the globe with even developed nations unable to counter the deadly virus, the way India is fighting its COVID-19 battle is a learning example for many countries. The deadly virus has not just resulted in thousands of deaths, but has seriously affected the global economy with the majority of nations imposing a ban on travel amid lockdown.
Governments across the globe are prioritising the health of people to ensure the minimum spread of the infection and resultant deaths. There is nothing wrong with the government’s priority to save lives and it is evident in the decisions being taken by governments across the world.Reliance founder Dhirubhai Ambani has repeatedly taught how to turn a crisis into an opportunity. It is the mantra of the Reliance management to find opportunities amid crisis, and Dhirubhai and Mukeshbhai Ambani have always followed this mantra. There is no doubt that coronavirus pandemic will leave a lasting impact on the global economy. The $3 trillion Indian economy will also face an impact of around $1 trillion. This, in-turn, will result in a decline in the country’s GDP from 1.9 to 1.6, as suggested by experts.
The Indian economy was weak even before the coronavirus pandemic started. The pandemic has given an impetus to the falling economy. It is obvious that economy always comes second on the priority list when it comes to saving human lives. However, it needs to be kept in mind that the foundation of the Indian economy is so strong that it can easily overcome the COVID-19 shock.
The pandemic’s impact is more on the economies of western countries as compared to nations such as India and Indonesia. The spread of the deadly virus has also created a consensus among countries against China. India can utilise this situation and reap benefits. It can fine-tune its policies such as “Make in India” and “Digital India” and make the country more attractive for global investors.
American and Japanese companies have already made up their mind to stop their operations in China. In fact, the US and the Japanese government are encouraging these companies to get out of China, and India must tap this opportunity. India’s decision to allow the export of hydroxychloroquine to help countries in fighting the COVID-19 battle is a major step in this direction. The Rs 43,574 crore Jio-Facebook deal will also give a new direction to digital trade and the Indian economy. The deal resulted in a gain of 743 points for the domestic stock market that can be considered as a major contribution in reviving the Indian economy. The coronavirus pandemic has also given a major opportunity to the government and major oil companies in buying crude oil. Although there is a fund crisis going on, the government should import oil at the prevailing rates depending upon the storage capacity. Crude oil is at its lowest price in the past 20 years and once the global economy starts gathering pace, crude oil prices are also likely to go up.
India has surpassed the peak of the coronavirus crisis. However, the country needs to be alert as it will again have to face a lockdown if the virus starts spreading again. The traders and business houses need to prepare a plan keeping in mind the looming threat of COVID-19.
Experts are predicting a jump in the digital economy post the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the virus, work from home, net banking, e-commerce, e-retail, home education classes, etc, has considerably increased and as a result, the cost of office interior, car, surplus staff, etc should be reduced. Instead, the focus should be on digital processes. The government will have to focus on public health and well-being as the divide between the rich and poor has widened due to the coronavirus crisis. Also, economists are worried that the pandemic will drag around 20 crore people towards poverty.
(Parimal Nathwani is the senior group president of Reliance industries and Rajysabha MP candidate from Andhra Pradeah, Ahmedabad. Views are personal.)