As the Lockdown progressed and now eases, the Centre’s medium- and long-term goals have become clear and its policy actions reflective of those goals. The Rs 20 lakh crore package was designed to restart the Economy and business, protect jobs and at the same time extend the support to those vulnerable and poor and informal sectors. There remains, off course, the issue of restarting consumption or addressing the sharp, painful impact of the demand shock that has hit the Economy. Demand shock was a net result of Social distancing, lockdown, supply disruptions and the general panic in people about their futures. There is no magic bullet, there is no quick fix, there is no shortcut to stimulating and restarting demand in an economy coming out of 60 days of lockdown. With COVID-19, many of our beliefs and the systems we follow are bound to change. Every challenge comes with some opportunities and the current crisis is no different. Here are the silver linings to the dark clouds surrounding India.
Education Sector under COVID 19:-
Learning has no boundaries! The COVID 19 has given us opportunities for online mode of learning. The students in the far places need not to go out of their town due to lack of education facility. Now they just
need a good internet connection. This will definitely make a new India “The Educated India”. Needless to say, the pandemic has transformed the centuries-old, chalk–talk teaching model to one driven by technology. The availability of tools and new theories has attracted education innovators to evolve learning strategies or new technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) in Education Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Cloud Computing for Education etc. This is where actually Covid-19 seems to be a blessing in disguise for the Education sector.
Various immediate actions are being taken at the country level to address the digital education divide.
• Italy, for example, has announced an 85 million-Euro package to support distance learning for 8.5 million students and improve connectivity in isolated areas.
• China is providing computers to students from low-income families and offering mobile data packages and telecommunication subsidies for students.
• In France, efforts are being made to lend devices and provide printed assignments to the 5% of learners who do not have access to the Internet or computers.
• To ease the disruption, the United Arab Emirates created a hotline for teachers and students to seek technical support if they face any difficulties.
Formal and informal learning opportunities through open, flexible and distance learning (OFDL) models are necessary elements within the broader education system. In recent years, broad learning initiatives (e.g., open educational resources, Khan Academy, massive open online courses, as well as micro-credentialing) have offered openness, transparency and flexibility in accessing learning and demonstrating outcomes. These initiatives have vastly extended the opportunities for students to access alternate modes of learning while interacting with peers on a global scale.
Even ICAI has taken steps for distance education, ICAI’s Digital Learning Hub is an integrated Learning Management System (LMS) which brings a new knowledge ecosystem with collaborative pedagogical model and participatory learning to improve learner outcomes. The platform brings professional and academic contents in multiple formats which student can use in a self-paced way. It provides a platform for interaction with peers in knowledge sharing engagements using the best use of technology such as smartphones, tablets to disseminate learning snippets. The content is tailored to suit each niche learner segment to help a student to understand a concept. Further, some of the examples of various opportunities available to India’s education sector is presented below:
Market Size: –
• Number of colleges and universities in India reached 39,931 and 993, respectively, in FY19. India had 37.4 million students enrolled in higher education in FY19. Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education reached 26.3 per cent in FY19.
• The country has become the second-largest market for E-learning after the US. The sector is expected to reach US$ 1.96 billion by 2021 with around 9.5 million users.
Investments/Recent Developments/Government Initiatives: –
• The total amount of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow into the education sector in India stood at US$ 3.24 billion from April 2000 to March 2020 according to the data released by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
• In May 2020, Government launched PM eVIDYA, a programme for multi-mode access to digital/online education.
• According to Union Budget 2020-21, the Government allocated Rs 59,845 crore (US$ 8.56 billion) for the Department of School Education and Literacy.
• In August 2019, Maharashtra International Education Board (MIEB) signed a collaboration agreement with Google for Education in India.
India should need to invest more in the education sector and invite the big player of market, train their teacher to deal with this technology, make arrangement for the computers for poor people, provide internet facility in the remote areas etc. This disruption in the delivery of education is pushing policymakers to figure out how to drive engagement at scale while ensuring inclusive e-learning solutions and tackling the digital divide.
According to the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) published in the medical journal The Lancet,
India ranks 154th among 195 countries on the healthcare index. The Covid-19 pandemic is also driving innovation opportunities within the healthcare industry. Overall, India’s public health expenditure has remained between 1.2% to 1.6% of GDP between 2008-09 and 2019-20. In 2020-21, the Ministry received an allocation of Rs 67,112 crore. This is an increase of 3.9% over the revised estimates of 2019-20 (Rs 64,609 crore).
It is a widely known fact that India is a large exporter of generic drugs globally however, it is a large importer of APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients), particularly from China, from which it imports 70% of its APIs. The Indian government in March approved schemes with a total outlay of Rs.10,000 crores and 4,000 crores to boost domestic production of bulk drugs and medical devices in the country along with their exports. A good opportunistic move would be attracting global companies that are seeking to set up alternate global supply chains outside China.
For India, the world’s single-largest exporter of generic drugs, this triggered raw material shortages and exposed its dependence on Chinese imports. The south Asian nation relies on bulk ingredients from China to manufacture a fifth of the global supplies of drugs that are off patents.
This creates an opportunity for India to conduct Research & Development and start producing the raw material which is being imported from China in huge quantum.
The government can encourage this by investing in more R&D for drug and pharma research within India and provide more incentives to the private sector to enhance its production for export channels. Apart from the start of production of raw material and ventilators, India can have opportunities in other areas of the health sector such as:
a) pursue medical diplomacy by providing medical training and technical expertise to many other developing nations whose healthcare systems are much worse than India;
b) increase in the production of different types of equipment, disinfectants liquids, gels, etc. to meet the domestic consumption of these products.
Information Technology and Digitisation Sector
The COVID-19 crisis has not only altered the way we live, think, work or even socialize with others around us but has also impacted almost every industry around the world. The companies are not only going to target for enhanced surveillances but also faster processes to not only make their workplaces more secure but also deliver services to their clients differently. In the long run, we will have to adapt to a new normal where COVID-19 is part of life. The Internet of Things (IoT) will play an important role in this new normal and that will push its adoption in a lot of technologies that already exist. This can be very well felt from the kind words of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi – ‘I see technology as a means to empower and as a tool that bridges the distance between the hope and opportunity’.
The core digital sectors such as IT and business process management, digital communication services and electronics manufacturing stands at a greater side of unfolding the opportunity in this pandemic. The core digital sectors have the potential to more than double the present economic value creation to $435bn by 2025. However, there is a great growth potential for the new emerging digitising sectors as well which can be shown in the chart below:
India is one of the leading exporters of IT services. The action areas for the Central Government in the
Information Technology are as follows:
- Easy financing for IT projects.
- Bridge the digital divide.
- Set up technology parks.
- Single window clearance of IT enabled services.
- International Marketing.
When do you think Globalisation Begin
Indian textile industry or when the farmers were forced to produce cotton for the factories in England. But actually, globalization in its truest sense begin long ago when Christopher Columbus stumbled on America in search of Spices or when Vasco Da Gama traded on the coast of Southern Africa. However, globalization may lose its edges due to rise of the protectionism trend, creeping mistrusts between nations and enforcing
what researchers call ‘gated globalization’ Which is evident from Brexit, US- China trade war or US pulling out of trade blocs (NAFTA).
Amidst all the chaos, India stands a tremendous opportunity of re-emerging as a global leader while protecting its economy. According to a recent report by Jones Lang Lasalle, “India has witnessed a 257 percent growth in GDP between 2004-05 and 2018-19, emerged as the 6th largest consumer market globally with 49 percent workforce participation, ranked among the top 10 recipients of overseas investments in 2019, attracting $49 billion in inflows (16 percent increase from previous year)”.The cumulative total FDI inflows received from April 2000 to September 2019, aggregate to $642.36 billion and just in the half year period between April – September 2019, aggregated to $34.90 billion.
The Prime minister gave a clarion call for a “Self -Reliant India”. However, in the midst of all this we must not forget how sustainability and trade should go hand in hand. The transition should be focused on development along with clean energy. The Pandemic has taught us the importance of resilience: the ability for human systems to cope and adapt. While the government is launching economic stimulus and support packages, we must pave the way for a sustainable economy, it’s the time for low carbon footprints, increasing the forest cover, and turn our forest into reservoirs of herbal medicines. Countries around the world are looking at diversifying the supply chains, it is a golden opportunity for India which will help us emerge economically self-sufficient, self-reliant, and a pave the way for other economies of the world.
The government is hoping to achieve a revenue of Rs 1.7 lakh crore in military goods and services by 2025, with an export contribution of Rs 35,000 crore. Another sector that has gained focus is defence, with manufacturing becoming the focus area. As part of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package, the government refocused its priorities back to agriculture and the manufacturing base of India. India is already the largest producer of milk and jute. Dairy, FMCG industries will be able to utilise the benefits of this focus.
The government has provided Rs 3 lakh crore to rescue micro, small and medium enterprises from the effects of the pandemic. Indian government is planning on infrastructural development and the pandemic has also shifted a considerable focus on the Healthcare Sector. The total expenditure accounts for 1.29 % of GDP which is insufficient in the current scenarios. It is a huge opportunity to encourage private investment in the country.
The commerce ministry has identified sectors like food processing, organic farming, textiles, agriculture
chemicals, electronics, leather and shoes, auto parts etc to make India a global supplier and it’s the first
step in cutting the import Bill. However, the increasing trade deficit with China is a cause of concern. The government, although is working to restrict low quality Chinese imports and technical regulations which are in reference to the safety and quality standards are being formulated to cut imports of non-essential items from countries like China but knee jerk changes might be a cause of concern due to the escalating tensions between the two countries.
As per an Economic times report, the government recently put import restrictions on tyres, while also making its prior approval mandatory for foreign investments from countries that share land border with India to curb “opportunistic takeovers” of domestic firms, following the COVID-19 pandemic, a move which will restrict FDI from China.
we utilise the abundance of what we have and balance it with the opportunities present at the moment, India as a nation could redefine global trade even with protectionist trends and emerge as a leader. The government is working on a sectoral strategy by building local capacity and creating value chains. Experts said the government’s sectoral strategy was a step in the right direction but import curbs should be calibrated to avoid any abrupt disruption in supply.
With the economic and social changes in India. The focus should be green transport, electric cars and public transport in order to meet green standards. It is important to note that our cities are polluted so much that it would be difficult to add more polluting industries and cars. At a global level, a post Covid-19 economy will be mostly a green economy. What this means is a) efficient internet system that encourages remote meetings, reducing transport within the city and between cities; b) public transport systems like expanding metros to suburban areas; c) tax rebates for electric vehicles at production and consumer levels; d) enforcement of pollution regulations and tightening existing regulations on water and air pollution; e) facilities for using bikes to get to work, etc.At the same time, countries shall undertake reform to strengthen the digital economy and e-commerce not only to manage the pandemic but also to facilitate trade. Trade barriers should not be allowed to happen in trade in goods and services .
With the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and opportunity in different sectors now policy makers of India need to work. Gradual opening of the economies and adjusting in “New Normal” is the need of the hour. Stimulus works well when it is well coordinated. Indian diplomacy should not stop here. India must continue to play a larger role in building a cohesive neighbourhood in this “New Normal” at a time when the partnership will be guided by new ethics, challenges and responses.