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India Eases Restrictions To Stimulate Economy

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Back in April 2020, India’s economy was estimated to grow by 5 per cent in the first quarter of 2020- a considerable increase from 1.2 per cent in Q4 2019. Moving forward, the second quarter of 2020 is estimated to witness a 9.3% contraction in gross domestic product. The country saw some of the most intense lockdown measures in the world which aimed to flatten the curve of infection rates although the country is beginning to reopen the economy.

India currently has more than 40,000 active cases and has reported more than 2,000 deaths. These statistics continue to increase as a commercialised and easily accessible vaccine is yet to be available. Continuing strict lockdown measures is crippling India’s economy and the nation can no longer afford to enforce these rules. Both the public and private sector are facing financial hardship which was partly indicated through the sharply increased fuel prices during a time of record low crude oil prices.

The farming industry in particular is seeing easing of restrictions and aims to get citizens back to work. Approximately half of India’s population work within the agricultural industry. Thus, this is an essential industry to reopen to prevent food shortages in the country's 1.35 billion population. Within the industry, sectors seeing an ease in restrictions primarily include fisheries, farming and plantations. Employees on a daily wage and other stakeholders within these sectors will be able to continue earning while harvesting crops. Additionally, supply chains associated with these sectors are an integral component of the agricultural industry and have therefore been given the approval to reopen. Meanwhile, cargo trucks will be permitted to travel across state borders to distribute produce from villages to cities.

Infrastructure projects considered to be essential such as building water lines and roads in rural areas will also reopen with strict social distancing rules being enforced. Other services permitted to reopen include banks, ATMs, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, government offices, plumbers, builders and electricians. In areas that are not considered hotspots, public and private workspaces can reopen as long as they abide by social distancing rules.

Ultimately, state governments have the primary control over which restrictions will be eased, with the majority of state leaders still expressing their concerns due to the high infection rates remaining  in the nation’s capital. The most populous states will still enforce restrictions, including Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. More notably,  an “odd-even” strategy is being implemented to prevent the number of cars on the road where odd and even number plates will be allowed to travel on alternate days.

 

By Caroline Wong 

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