With ‘social distancing’ likely to become a norm in the future, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to boost e-commerce and home delivery to salvage the Indian economy badly battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter to Modi on April 25 but released on Sunday, Pawar said that the coronavirus crisis has hit urban areas and the urban economy hardest – with aviation, transport, tourism, brick and mortar retail, entertainment, media and wellness industry unlikely to ever regain their financial health.
“All businesses unable to handle ‘social distancing’ will suffer heavily. Sizeable numbers of businesses are not likely to survive and many will lose jobs. They will need to be reskilled for alternate employment and alternative businesses will have to be actively promoted,” Pawar said.
In this context, he called for the need to actively promote and encourage businesses via “e-commerce and home delivery” which can help create jobs and thus ease the unemployment problems.
The NCP chief said that conventional shops and stores may be at a disadvantage in view of various restrictions and social distancing norms which may acquire permanence.
Pawar said opportunities lie in the field of tele-medicine, which is still in its infancy, but out of necessity remote visits will become more popular.
While theaters and malls will continue to suffer, online entertainment platforms will expand and become more profitable. Similarly, gyms will suffer but online workout sessions will be in great demand, though it will be difficult for beauty parlours and spas to survive.
“Consequently, the household demand for health, wellness and beauty products will see a major spike. Parallely, the commercial demand for such products may nosedive,” said Pawar.
Hence, manufacturers will need to recast their product portfolios as consumption will migrate from commercial establishments to households, he pointed out.
In view of this scenario, Pawar said the government must develop appropriate policies and recognize these new alternative businesses as viable and bankable projects, and reskill workers for the emerging sectors, speedily put up regulatory frameworks and credit systems with early preemptive actions to make India a formidable player in the new post-Covid economy.
The NCP chief also said India should move quickly to capture the space likely to be vacated by China in the manufacturing sector.
“All nations have realized the need for a more diverse supply chain in order to have reliability in supplies. I suggest a proactive engagement with G-20 and BRICS, along with a suitable policy framework to encourage these nations to shift manufacturing bases to India,” Pawar concluded