The first case of Covid -19 in India was reported on 30th January 2020. India had the largest number of confirmed cases in Asia and has second highest number in the world after the United State of America. Covid-19 caused more than 100 thousand deaths worldwide. Apart from losing lives, another major fallout of this pandemic is an economic downfall. Lock down led to halting of major economic operations. People lost their jobs – some temporarily and some permanently. All these losses will undoubtedly take time to recover.
The Covid-19 pandemic is challenging us in ways we could never have imagined. While we are putting all our efforts to minimise the losses we could suffer, the lessons learnt from this event will go a long way in improvising on our response to similar situation in future. People are adapting slowly to this new situation and they also understand what the ideal social behaviour is, if such situation arises in future. Human kind has always learnt lessons from such disasters. This will not be this way forever. This dark cloud of pandemic however has a silver lining to it. From unprecedented amounts of family time to home schooling or work from home at your convenience to developing new hobbies during this free time has been a big positive side.
There will be many discoveries and innovations in all affected sectors at National, Regional, and global contexts. Most of those would be medical, environmental industry, and social cultural related activities. Let’s have one glance at the positive side of pandemic. Most important change is Digitalisation. There is an increased use of ICT by the existing users and we have added big new number to the user base. The internet penetration currently stands at an all-time high of more than 50%.
Digitalisation in Education, banking and Government operations will have a long lasting impact. Blended learning and Work Form Home will be a new normal. The pandemic has forced the people to adapt to these new ways which otherwise would take decades to realise that the alternative online way is also effective. Most of the IT companies have declared that WFH will be a regular feature as a part of their HR policy. This will reduce the real estate cost of the companies as they can accommodate more employees now with the same office space. Employees are happy to work from home because they are working hours are flexible and the work productivity has not suffered. The employees will be able to save some time on travelling and the same can be devoted to family. This is a win-win situation for both, the employees and the company.
Due to WFH the traffic on the road hopefully will reduce and we will have some relief from the usual traffic jams. The WFH will demand that the employees have a separate office in their homes. It may change the terminology in real estate from BHK (b=bedroom, hall, kitchen) to BOHK (bedroom, office, hall, kitchen).
The piles of the packets lying at the gates of societies indicate that online shopping is all time high during pandemic. If this online shopping sustains the trend it will do three good things to the economy. a) The trust of the customers in online shopping has gone up. b) It has also created employment at an entry level in the form of courier and delivery boys and c) hopefully in the long term it will reduce the real estate cost of retail.
The healthcare and insurance has suddenly taken the prime place in the household expenditure list. This will lead to employment generation in these two sectors and we all know that employment generation in one sector will have cascading effect on other sectors.
All in all, if the pandemic has created a depressing environment on one side, it is leading to lot of positive changes on the other side. Let’s look at this positive side and cheer up till the time the vaccines arrive.
Dr. Pandit Mali
Director, Indira Institute of Management, Pune