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Thursday, Sep 24, 2020 11:00 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Sep 24, 2020 05:18 [IST]

No easing this pain

The stress across businesses since the lockdown was imposed on March 24 is still visible. Even as the government has now relaxed the restrictions in many ways, the impact of the lockdown on the economy is likely to be long-term.
As the Covid pandemic looks set to extend into autumn, and with even many advanced nations preparing for a second wave of infections, it is becoming increasingly clear that the crisis has taken its worst toll on the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized.
In India, studies suggest that minority communities, Dalits and Adivasis have fallen deeper into debt and economic deprivation, disproportionately so compared to others. And, in all countries, the economic burden resulting from both the disease and public policy response—usually involving a partial or total lockdown—has most badly affected those least able to cope.
One of the responses to the crisis in most advanced and some emerging economies has been unloading the twin bazookas of fiscal and monetary policy largesse. While new fiscal spending does help those in need—such as supplementary unemployment insurance for those laid off or furloughed on account of Covid—unleashing an additional big dose of unconventional monetary policy has ensured that interest rates stay close to zero.
Of course, in our country, the poorest and most vulnerable have faced a triple whammy of the disease, loss of livelihoods, and the disorderly and sudden return-migration of many to their villages, worsened by a draconian and sudden lockdowns. This group’s prospects remain bleak if and when there is a return to normalcy.
Without doubt, Covid and the response to it have already worsened existing economic and social cleavages, and will worsen them further. What is more, this is occurring at a time when wealth and income inequalities were already high and rising throughout the world, in both advanced and emerging economies. There is enormous, perhaps unprecedented, economic pain ahead. Both policy and politics will have to play an important role to alleviate this. Bad policy can delay, even derail economic revival. Good politics can ensure that the suffering of the masses is minimized. What can be done to ensure this?

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi