As we are pulled out of BC (Before Covid) and learn to live through DC (During Covid), we must prepare for AC (After Covid) so that the new world we are all moving towards is equitable and sustainable while being focused on growth and development.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which marks 125 years of service to the nation in 2020, unveiled its Theme for 2020-21 at a virtual press conference held by the new CII President, Mr Uday Kotak, Managing Director & CEO, Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited. The Theme crafted by CII following the guidance of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at the CII Annual Session 2020 is ‘Building India For a New World – Lives, Livelihood, Growth.
Under this Theme, CII has formulated a 10-point road map to re-activate growth and help the country navigate its way through uncharted waters, as India, like the rest of the world, grapples with the debilitating impact of the outbreak of Coronavirus.
1. Protecting lives and livelihoods
While the lockdown helped curb the spread of Covid-19, it brought economic activity to a grinding halt, demanding a fine balance between saving lives and livelihoods, since 80% of the employment lies in the unorganised sector which has no social security. While taking necessary safety precautions, industry will need to work in partnership with the Government to create more jobs and bring in more workers under the ‘formal’ sector.
2. Prioritisation of healthcare and education
A robust healthcare system, adequate numbers of healthcare professionals, creating more awareness about hygiene and sanitation, and a long-term strategy are very important to not only deal with the current pandemic, but also any future pandemics. Expansion of e-healthcare and e-education should be the focus going forward, with emphasis on research and development leading to innovative solutions for society and industry.
3. Mother Nature
Increasing natural calamities and disease call for re-examining our development models and life so that nature’s equilibrium can be restored and maintained. Sustainability has to be the cornerstone of all activities, and CII has been instrumental in making sustainability a focal point for industry through its three Centres of Excellence devoted to sustainable development, green business and water, respectively.
4. Fiscal deficit and financial stability
Given the state of the economy, when sectors in distress are looking for relief and stimulus packages, striking that fine balance between a high fiscal deficit and ensuring financial stability will ensure the country is well on the growth track based on strong fundamentals.
5. Distribution of economic pain
Covid-19 has impacted everyone financially – individuals and businesses, the government and the financial system of the country. CII proposes strategies and recommendations to mitigate the losses and lessen the burden of the loss.
6. Role of digital and physical
The shift in balance between the physical and the digital brought about by Covid-19 is likely to be everlasting with significant changes in consumer behaviour and business models. Going forward, digital may overshadow the physical forever, necessitating better connectivity across the country, equipping the rural population with requisite skills and education, thereby increasing their participation in the economy, and re-engineering business offerings and functions.
7. Future of jobs and social security
The job market has undergone several Covid-19 induced changes and with the likelihood of fewer jobs being created in the current economic scenario, it is imperative to put in place a calibrated social security system which is provided for. With the clarion call for an Atma Nirbhar Bharat, with more companies looking to broad base their supply chains and markets and with India’s demonstrated capability of delivering quality and scale in several sectors – India is the world’s largest producer of tractors – India is well placed to Make in India for the world. CII will work closely with the Government to facilitate companies keen to move operations into India and make India a manufacturing hub.
8. Rural-urban re-balance
Covid-19 changed the direction of migration in India with many rural-based migrant labour from metros and urban India returning to the rural hinterland. Industry would do well to set up operations in areas where there is a concentration of labour. Mining projects and agro-based clusters could be expedited to take advantage of this phenomenon, as well as limit the risk of an economic impact as rural India isn’t as significantly impacted by Coronavirus. Additionally, industry and Government can support migrant labour by offering amenities like housing and education, to boost productivity and economic growth.
9. Four levers for growth
Of the four levers of growth, investment, consumption, net exports and government expenditure, the last has been the locomotive driving growth. Untenable in the long term, government expenditure has to be complemented by the other three. CII will deliberate on ways in which the private sector can ignite private investments, exports and entrepreneurship.
10. Getting growth back is non-negotiable
Against the backdrop of current trends, the Indian economy is set to contract this year, which will lead to loss of jobs and incomes, further pulling down economic growth. Complicating matters is the fact that this time both demand and supply have collapsed. CII will work focussedly on reviving investments, and work as a knowledge partner with the Government to build India for the new world.
The need of the hour is for both industry and Government to work together to bring India back on a path of sustainable growth and development.