Bounce Back With Caution

Rohan Khaunte highlights the adverse effects of Covid on world economies; and suggests for a slow and steady bounce back within the pandemic protocols

Economies around the world are adversely hit by the Covid pandemic induced lockdowns and related slowdown of every small and big business activity. Repeated virulent surges or waves are hindering a steady revival thus implying
that continuity of standard pandemic restraints go hand-in-hand with achieving a sustained economic revival instead of repeatedly bouncing back and forth.

The Indian economy was just registering a revival after the first wave when the second wave hit us forcefully and so we are once again suffering from economic contraction and growth pangs.

Covid lockdowns have adversely impacted the previous and current financial year. Rural economy took a deeper hit this time which makes a quicker and balanced revival extremely challenging. The ubiquitous cottage industry livelihoods that survive on hand-to-mouth existence have little or no hope of bouncing back either due to death of the entrepreneur or dearth of finances for a revival. This scenario warrants a dedicated corpus for a steady financial impetus to grassroots economic activities that sustain the rural economy. An employment roadmap prioritising rural economic revival and development should be implemented for the socioeconomic welfare of India’s rural populace.

Inflationary pressure is also causing a slowdown of the recovery process as rising fuel prices escalate transportation and raw material costs thus compounding the financial crisis with a cascading effect on home budgets and purchasing capacities. Prioritising on recoupment of pandemic induced fiscal deficit will only create more deprivation. Infusing purchasing power with financial stimulus and stabilisation of levies will uplift consumer confidence and provide a boost to consumption, thus paving way for a bouncier market.

While we pride ourselves on India being a blooming economy with high foreign direct investment, the visible picture is that of a struggling population in the aftermath of a pandemic induced economic crisis. Welfare based economic revival should take priority over GDP ratios and international fuel market liabilities etc. Today, India’s majority needs an economic balm to the wounds of unemployment, hunger and adversities caused by the world pandemic. Rushing in to recoup lost ground with narrow focus on just the economic angle is not a prudent way to pacify a population affected by grief and financial deprivation. Wider focus based on welfare of the people should be the yardstick for a sustainable economic revival.

Covid’s third wave is an inevitable reality and the revival strategy should inclusively consider the imminent setbacks of another slowdown. Unlocking is already creating fertile ground for another super-spread in most States, thus
dampening hopes of a full revival.

Aiming for a vigorous bounce without covid restraints will only invite a nose diving graph, hence a slower yet steady bounce within the constraints of pandemic protocols is the prudent path of economic revival. This also implies that the citizenry’s pandemic caution will determine the upward graph of economic revival and growth.

The Goan economy reflects the national crisis denting its medium and large scale manufacturing sector as well as the dependent small scale and cottage manufacturing sector. Bounce back is hurdled by high maintenance costs in reviving idled out machinery and related infrastructure. Tourism, the major contributor to Goa’s economy has taken a worst hit. From the motorcycle pilots and beach shacks to the hotel businesses, all are eagerly awaiting a bounce back. The revival of tourism should be guided by stringent pandemic standards; failing which, we shall again be forced into another lockdown. Cautious unlocking is the mantra for a sustainable bounce back in every industry, be it tourism, manufacturing or any other economic activity.

For Goans, bouncing back also means revival of our commitments to nature and environmental concerns. Only then can we signal the true triumph of humanity over this pandemic adversity

Khaunte is a former State Minister and represents Porvorim in the Goa Legislative Assembly.                              Email:

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