The COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus has been pegged as the defining global health crisis of the generation we are living in. Moreover, it is also the greatest global humanitarian challenge since the world faced World War II.
Within just a few months, the virus spread across the globe quickly and took the lives of many, as the number of cases in almost every country is continuously rising. One such country is dealing with the challenges that have arisen due to the Coronavirus pandemic in India.
In this article, we will go over the effect, affect, and opportunity of the Coronavirus pandemic in India.
The Affect On The Indian Economy
On March 23rd 2020, the Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi addressed the nation declaring a 21 days nation-wide lockdown in an attempt to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the deadly virus. Today, nearly 3 months later, with almost 1.3 billion people still under a type of lockdown, India is currently facing the “world’s biggest lockdown in history.”
Needless to say, the Indian economy has taken a massive hit due to this, and up to 53% of businesses in the country have taken a certain amount of hit on operations and revenue due to COVID-19. As of May, the unemployment rate in the country reached an all-time high of 26% and around 140,000,000 Indians lost their jobs during the lockdown. Additionally, 45% of Indian households reported a drop in their income as compared to the previous year.
Many businesses in the hospitality and airline sector faced huge losses and had to lay off half of their staff, and transport companies like Ola Cabs faced a loss of 95% resulting in 1400 layoffs. For the months of March and April, the tourism industry will be $2.1 billion and a huge chunk of employees working with the tourism industry have had to face unemployment. Another industry that faced huge losses is the events sector as it reported an estimated loss of $420 million.
India, which is known as the land of startups, saw the funding for young startups reduced dramatically. As compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, the total growth-stage funding (Series A Round) for Indian startups faced a 45% drop. Due to this, the number of Indian startups fell over 50% in the first quarter of 2020, as compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
The Government has not been spared from this crisis as well, due to the drop in tax collection, with multiple departments searching for means to reduce their own costs. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari states that some states didn’t have sufficient funds to release the salaries of their employees in the near future on 10th May 2020. Additionally, former Reserve Bank of India chief, Raghuram Rajan gave a statement in April in which he mentioned that the Coronavirus pandemic might just be the greatest emergency that India has faced since Independence.
Coming to the import industry, India is highly dependent on China for imports, which has made India the 10th most impacted country across the globe due to supply chain disruptions with China. The chemical, textiles & apparel, automotive industries and the medicinal & pharma companies have faced the majority of the brunt.
The Effect On The Indian Lifestyle
Besides the economy, COVID-19 has left lasting effects on the day-to-day life of Indians, especially due to major restrictions due to the lockdown. Despite the view of empty roads, and people in masks, the changes in the lifestyle are extensive and have far-reaching consequences as well.
While the changes leave its effect on every aspect of life, there are four categories that can be defined:
A majority of the Indian popular, especially in urban areas like Mumbai, are daily wage workers, also know about labourers. They come from rural areas in search of jobs, however, due to the pandemic crisis, there is a grave shortage in labour jobs. Due to this, millions of city migrants whose livelihoods collapsed due to the Coronavirus pandemic headed back to their villages.
However, the overwhelming number of migrants proved to be too much for the arrangements made by the Government, resulting in the fear of the further spread of the virus due to the sheer volume of mask-wearing, backpack lugging migrants.
Health Is Wealth, Is It?
With over 14,000 deaths over the country as of 23rd June 2020, the concept of ‘health is wealth’ hasn’t been more true than now. Most of the population of India has become extremely cautious and is keen on following practices like always wearing a mask when leaving the house, washing hands regularly and maintaining social distancing.
Moreover, multiple stores, medicals, and buildings have sanitizers available for all who need it. Additionally, due to the shortage of masks, many people have taken to stitching masks from added cloth in their houses, sanitizing it appropriately, and giving it away for free to those who can’t afford to purchase expensive factory-made masks.
Amidst these positives, there are multiple challenges that people are facing when it comes to the health industry as well. These include management of quarantine and suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, added to the burden it puts on the medical system of the country. Additionally, patients with other diseases of health issues are getting neglected as most of the medical workforce is trying to keep up with COVID-19 patients.
Lastly, coupled with the high population and the disruption of the medical supply chain, there is a shortage of medical supply and overcrowding at medicals.
While necessary, the extended lockdown has taken its toll on the social life of people. Right from private birthday and anniversary celebrations, to public cultural and religious festivals, everything has been disrupted. Additionally, due to the closure of hotels, restaurants, movie theatres, sports clubs, gymnasiums, swimming pools, and even religious places, people literally have nowhere to go.
Along with this, the loss of jobs, failing economy and the never-ending increase in the number of COVID-19 cases has left the Indian consumer in a state of panic. They have stopped purchasing unnecessary goods and instead are bulk buying essentials.
The Rise of Digitization
Among all the negatives, one positive is the promotion of the vision of Digital India, as many service providers like banks and telecom operators have drastically reduced their offline operations and are asking customers to reach out to them via digital mediums instead. The only challenge here is that not many customers are prepared for this drastic change, however, with time, customers are not only embracing but appreciating the convenience of digitization.
Moreover, besides television, internet browsing and streaming platforms too have seen a significant rise in viewership, according to various studies. Moreover, many educational institutes across the country have started conducting online lectures and assessments or exams to ensure the education of their students aren’t impacted.
Opportunity To Grow For Relevant Industries and Business
While there are many challenges and multiple industries have taken a huge hit due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there are certain industries that are emerging, some of which are listed below:
Health & Wellness Industry
To meet the healthcare needs of the Indian population, strategic reserves of critical medical equipment like testing kits and personal protection equipment like masks and gowns must be made. Additionally, life-saving equipment like ventilators and CPAP devices should be present in abundance as well. While currently, these are being imported, it presents a great opportunity for businesses amid the pandemic crisis.
And, staying true to the notion of India being the hub of startups, multiple startups rose to the occasion by providing solutions to the healthcare and wellness industry. Mentioned below are a few who released notable products:
Invented a device for the remote and non-invasive monitoring of cardiac strain, especially useful for exercising as this enables the user to optimize their activities without having to breach social distancing.
Developed a patent-pending product, which is a highly portable oxygen generator which provides uninterrupted 99.7% pure oxygen, without the need for power. With the growing number of cases and reducing facility and equipment, this is nothing short of a miracle.
With more people spending the majority of their time online, many businesses are giving more importance to marketing and advertising online. Hence, digital marketing agencies are on an all-time high.
Moreover, eCommerce businesses are noticing an increase in bookings as non-essential shops like clothing, electronics, and others are closed. Hence, consumers are resorting to online stores to purchase these items.
As people can’t move around much, combined with the increase in eCommerce orders, the logistics industry is noticing an unexpecting increase in the number of deliveries.
Right from everyday groceries, to laptops and other appliances, the people associated to the logistics industry are in high demand.
Drone and Robotics
Increasing the level of safety, some companies are even making use of drones and robotics to deliver products.
But, aside from that, drones and robotics can be highly useful to ensure social distancing in maintained effectively. For example, banks can use highly-trained and advanced robots to address customer queries, ensuring the law of social distancing is intact while addressing the customer’s demand as well.
With schools and colleges being shut down for nearly three months and no end in sight, many educational institutions are retorting to online teaching. The education institutes create virtual material in the form of PDFs or presentations, which is sent to the students. Additionally, they also conduct online classes, which has led to the popularity of video conferencing apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google’s Hangouts.
Moreover, some institutions are also carrying out examinations and assessments through these online mediums. Hence, needless to say, EduTech is on the rise, which is greatly benefiting companies like Byju’s and Unacedemy, who are prominent and popular players in the EduTech field.
Standalone homes and villas are extremely popular during this time, especially for tourists who are stranded here and can’t travel back home. Moreover, large families who don’t have big enough houses too are making use of these holiday homes, which are 100% sanitized and are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their guests.
OYO Rooms is part of this promotion, as they are offering villas and standalone houses to their guests while assuring proper cleanliness and social distancing between the workers and the guests.
Last, but not the least, another sector that is on the rise is virtual consultation. As people can’t meet consultants face-to-face, virtual mediums are the best way to move forward. Hence, multiple consultants, right from career to health, are conducting virtual consultations for their customers.
With an aim to target more people, these consultants also conduct webinars and digital conferences, wherein they preach the good and bad practices of a particular industry.
A New Normal
In conclusion, there are a lot of challenges the country is facing due to the Coronavirus pandemic, however, India has always been a country of survivors. This is clearly evident with small hands of help from neighbours to larger hands from celebrities like Sonu Sood, who came forward to help those in need.
While it’s true that the economy is in a major crisis and people are facing live dangering challenges, this pandemic has shown a new side of India wherein we all come together as a society, forgetting caste, creed, financial status, etc., to battle the common enemy and emerge victoriously.1