‘As a student studying in the US, I got to see the other side of the coin. I was able to see how a developed nation or a superpower as you could call it was dealing with the situation. As someone who is directly affected by what was happening in both the countries, I really got to experience the intricacies and the efforts put forth both by “a developing” and “a developed” country’, says Kumara Vishnu Ramesh, Final Year student of Mechanical engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, USA.
The three major sectors of an economy are the Primary (Agriculture), Secondary (Industries) and Tertiary (Services) sectors. It is seen by many studies a developed or developing nation, over 60-70% of the working population is seen to employed in the secondary and tertiary sector. This means only a handful of countries such as the United States employ this model. This also means that majority of the world, which are largely comprised of developing countries have 60-70% of their workforce employed in primary and secondary sectors.
It is known to everyone the impact and damage COVID-19 has had on the world. But the manufacturing sector has taken the deepest plunge as it is labor intensive and something which no one can operate from their homes. In our own country, almost 12.2 crore employees across the secondary and tertiary sector lost their jobs. This means over 35 crore people of the country lost revenue because one of their family members lost a job. We have lost over 1 lac crore rupees in revenue just in the month of April. There is a sour in the GNP,GDP and National Income. As the whole country looks to define the new normalcy and adapt to it, we need to realize that the industries need to be re-setup on priority as they not only give the State huge amounts of revenue, so many lives are dependent on the income. Given the circumstances, it is pretty hard to control the spread of the virus and while some say, lockdown can contain the virus, but there should be some point when we just have to embrace the fact that there might no potential cure for a long time and just learn to live with it.
The gradual re-opening of essential places should be the first step to limp back to normalcy. People need to be more aware, more cautious and be well prepared before they do anything. Opening industries would not only bring some revenue to the country, but also bring a lot of lives back to normalcy. We need to develop a better system for the workers to be safe as well getting some work done. The world, has been over dependent on china for all its manufacturing capabilities, now that the situation is not favorable there, other developing south-east Asian nations like India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand need to step up in order to meet the world’s demand.
News reports have suggested that already over 50 billion$ worth of investment has been pulled from China by companies like Samsung, LG, Daewoo, Hyundai etc. As a student studying in the US, I got to see the other side of the coin. I was able to see how developed nation or a superpower as you could call it was dealing with the situation. As someone who is directly affected by what was happening in both the countries, I really got to experience the intricacies and the efforts put forth by “a developing” and “a developed” country. The US, is facing difficulties in meeting their demand for sanitizers and disinfectants due to industry leaders like Purell and Clorox having over 80% of their manufacturing in China. It would not be too long, before a lot of other companies would be looking for other countries to set up their manufacturing. Deteriorating trust in Chinese products and the chance to earn high revenue for the country should be the two main motivating factors for any country to open up their economies for the world.
Another compelling reason to restart this industry is that a lot of manufacturers work with food, and by shutting these industries, the farmers are also incurring huge losses because no one is buying their fresh grown produce. But, the one thing we could that sets apart the US and India is the approach they take to attain normalcy. For example, the Ford factory, in Detroit Michigan never stopped production of their cars. They would make their workers work in smaller shifts, so that they didn’t lose their jobs. Also, many big factories in Michigan including Ford, saw a visit from the Commander-in-Chief and he ordered them to simultaneously manufacture ventilators, as during that time, America was facing heavy crisis as a result of shortage of ventilators for critical patients.
In India we got to see it otherwise. Here, everything was closed. The same company Ford, which has a plant in Chennai was shut down, which cost them and their workers a lot. The Chennai Post also lost close to 40% of their revenue in the month of April and May as a result of this. As practiced by a lot of big manufacturers worldwide in which they constantly distill the air inside in order for the machines to be in better shape, they should try to do the same in order to make the worker’s condition better. This habit should be made compulsory irrespective of the size of the manufacturing unit.
Latest studies have shown certain hepa filters are capable enough of filtering even the COVID-19 virus. Also, the workers who under 5-m of distance from each other should be given PPE kits. Also, there should be shower of disinfectant every 2 hours. Once they develop a more affective and economical way to do spot testing, all the companies should spot test all the workers once every two days to be sure. Also, the big firms could have a system wherein all the workers could live together so that even if someone did fall sick, they could immediately trace the origin of the virus and take necessary steps. There should be a subsidy for anyone who produces disinfectants and sanitizers, because this way there will not only be employment, but we are developing a commodity which in any amounts will do good for us. In such tough times, we need to find ways to restore normalcy. We need to learn resilience from the American model.
Automation in industry too, is not a solution for a country like India, which has such a vast population. It is some sort of a Catch-22. If we believe that automation will reduce the human interaction, leading to lesser spread of the virus, people will lose their livelihoods. On the other hand, if we continue with the same workforce, there is a higher chance of human interaction, leading to potential spread. So, what can we do? We need to change what previously came under the purview of normal.
Gloves, Masks and sanitizers and constant cleansing of surfaces should become a habit to beat the invisible enemy. We, as a group, should try, support and look to develop new ways to develop manufacturing and services because that is the fastest way to restore and recover the losses the country and the individuals have incurred. Workers should be constantly checked and also work in smaller shifts so as to avoid contact. Considering the fact most of the secondary sector is labor-intensive, we need to mitigate the spread by adopting safer techniques. These industries need to come back to life as soon as possible. The market is a systematic machine and the industry is an integral cog, which connects the primary and the service sectors.