From the desk of Editor-in-Chief

Life and Livelihoods during the turbulent times of Coronavirus

In the wake of the ongoing pandemic times, there have been continuous debates in our country – whether India should focus on lives or livelihoods. In our view, this is not an ‘either or scenario’, rather an ‘and’ scenario. We need to do both and within the constraints of the myriad challenges, undoubtedly this is no easy task. Every sector, every state and every organisation needs support; and the challenge of what to prioritise is a herculean task that the country is focused on.

For governments, the prospect of containment endangering more lives, than saving, is frightening. This is more so in countries like India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil and even China. In India, as much as in the other countries, job-intensive sectors with high presence of informal workers such as construction, real estate, hospitality, tourism and transport have been the hardest hit.

The lockdowns aggravating economic hardships by an irreversible extent has been scary for India, as more than 80% of its workforce is informal. Experts apprehend, as much as 400 million workers in the informal economy face the risk of falling deeper into poverty during the crisis in the country. Numerous anecdotal reports suggest that it has pushed individuals and households to the brink and deeper into the economic precipice.


However, with the end of the lockdown and beginning of the unlocking process, things have started looking slightly better. The unemployment rate in India fell to its pre-lockdown level of 8.5% in the week ended June 21 from the peak rate of 23.5% in April and May.
The urban unemployment continues to be higher than pre-Covid levels while the rural unemployment has come down significantly, thanks to MGNREGA and Kharif sowing across the country, says the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) in its recent weekly report.

Amid such a dim scenario, numerous organisations and individuals such as NGOs, Corporates, Hospitals & Medical Institutes, Ministers, District Collectors, Police Officers, Doctors, Social Workers and Volunteers displayed exemplary courage, sincerity, grit and patience in joining the nation-wide efforts to fight the spread of the virus, helped people in numerous ways, prepared them to improve resilience and also helped protecting their livelihoods.

We are aware that fighting a pandemic like Covid-19 needs integrated, coordinated and holistic approach in which all stakeholders in a society need to work together. Thus, mutual help and trust are very important catalysts in protecting health, economy, livelihoods, skills and other important aspects of our lives.

The current edition of The Bridge E- Magazine captures many thrilling stories from the field, bringing an update upon what all has been happening across India while it is busy fighting the deadly Corona virus.


The ‘ruthless containment model’ saved Bhilwara from becoming ‘Wuhan of India’

At the onset of Coronavirus outbreak in India, Rajasthan’s Bhilwara was called the ‘epicenter’ of the pandemic. However, with the ‘ruthless containment model’, the region miraculously became an inspiration for the rest of the country to contain the virus. The Bridge correspondent Karan Bhardwaj speaks to District Magistrate Rajendra Bhatt who was at the helm of affairs of containment strategies.

TBI: When the COVID-19 situation erupted two months back, there was strong fear of a possible disastrous outbreak from Bhilwara region. On the contrary, with your timely and strict actions, Bhilwara emerged as the role model to contain Coronavirus. What was your strategy?

RB: Coronavirus was first reported in Bhilwara when doctors from a private hospital tested positive on March 18, 19 this year. As per records, these doctors had seen 7,000 patients. There must be around additional 3,000 patients who were given home consultancy but there was no record about them. So, we had a staggering number of 10,000 people who came in contact with these doctors. Unfortunately, we didn’t know how many of them got infected or had already spread the virus. With such uncertainty, Bhilwara was being touted as the next ‘Italy’ or ‘Wuhan of India’. Community spread was written on the wall. In our response, we were trying to protect our people as well as other districts to prevent community spread of coronavirus. We had no choice but to take ruthless steps. We immediately isolated the district, sealed boundaries and imposed curfew. We requested the state government to urgently suspend movement of transport. No passenger trains, private or public buses were allowed to enter Bhilwara. Since the epicenter was a private hospital in the city area, we also cut off the urban region from the rural side. Next, we quarantined all 7,000 people on record who had visited the hospital. Hotspots were declared and no movement was allowed in the vicinity of one kilometer.


Another significant step was undertaking door-to-door survey of the entire region systematically. A total of 1,950 teams were formed with each team comprising 2-3 specialists including a medical expert along with a teacher or tehsildar or an officer from the Revenue Services. In a matter of week, we surveyed the entire population of 27.5 lakh people. The objective was to register people who have come from abroad, or who have visited hospitals in the last one month. As a result, nearly 15,000 people in rural area and 1,250 people in urban area with flu-like symptoms were put under home quarantine. Aggressive contact tracing was launched.

TBI : How did you manage to monitor them?

RB: We developed a robust monitoring system. Locals, teachers, current or retired government employees, panchayat members and others volunteered to be Corona Warriors to monitor people who were put under quarantine. WhatsApp groups were made for each village or sub division where corona fighters would post their images of surveillance. In ‘Maha Curfew’, we didn’t even allow any movement of people regarding essential services. Everything was supplied to people’s doorsteps. As we witnessed 55 days of curfew, we could completely contain Coronavirus in the region. This format was later adopted by other states like Haryana, MP.

TBI: What is the present situation of Coronavirus in Bhilwara after the return of migrants?

RB: Now, we have some positive cases of migrants who have come from different cities. They have been put under mandatory quarantine of 15 days. No new case emerged from the people of Bhilwara. People have been cooperative. They are cautious and taking guidelines seriously. Maintaining social distancing, wearing masks and using hand sanitizers are a must. Any violation is set to invoke strict action by the administration.

TBI: Being the textile hub with hundreds of manufacturing units, how is Bhilwara reopening now? There’s also a fear of exploitation of workers and further unemployment.

RB: All industries are functional now. Migrants who have completed quarantine period of 15 days have been given employment under MNREGA. Our administration has played role of a catalyst. We called a meeting between Labour Unions and Industrialists and an MOU was signed between them. Industries were willing to offer Rs 2,600 to labourers but we managed to raise it to Rs 4,000. Besides, many labourers who specialize in textiles have gone back to Bihar, UP and Bengal. We are hopeful of their comeback soon as many of them are willing to return. It is important to note Bhilwara was the first district to impose curfew and was also the first to reopen industries, and subsequently resolve the employment issue.

TBI: You couldn’t go to your residence for several days. How challenging was it personally to be out there, away from family?

RB: This kind of pandemic has struck after 100 years. We do not have any experience of handling it. Since the crisis was severe in our region, our first motto was to save the community. It was a mammoth task to coordinate amongst all departments at the regional and state level. I requested my wife to go to my parents’ house because my parents are old. I stayed back here with my daughter who supported me in managing personal chores. She would send me food in the office as I hardly got to meet her. All of us had a shared goal: to prevent Bhilwara from becoming Italy and turning it into a role model.

TBI: Several nations have faced spread of coronavirus with the opening of education system. What do you think India should do in this regard?

RB: I think educational institutions can be opened in different stages. Schools can reopen with senior students as they can take precautions and practise social distancing. Same goes for university students. Junior students and kids at playways can wait for the safer time.

TBI: Do you think lockdown can be imposed now with surging cases?

RB: It is not possible to keep people indoors now. For how long can you do it? People in other nations have protested against the lockdown. We already have had 3-4 lockdowns. It is the people who will have to learn to live with the virus till the vaccine comes. It is a fact that the virus can spread due to some ignorant people but I urge administration to take strict action against the offenders. Those who are not abiding by the laws and recommendations can be injurious to themselves as well as others. As a society, we have to be more responsible. Youngsters have to take care of children and elderly people.


Securing Livelihood – The Premise of our Lives

By Dr Manoj Dash

Livelihood is the means to make a living. It encompasses people’s capabilities, assets, income and activities required to secure the necessities of life. A livelihood is sustainable when it enables people to cope with and recover from shocks and stresses and enhance their well-being.

The spread of COVID-19 has disrupted lives and livelihoods worldwide. The nationwide lockdown in India disrupted economic activities as a fall out of which livelihood related activities have been adversely affected. According to estimates, 120 million people in India temporarily lost their jobs across sectors such as construction, retail, food processing and e-commerce, etc.

However, there are many organisations who made sincere efforts to either create livelihood opportunities or prepare people to build enough resilience so that when situation becomes normal again, they be back in the business quickly. Activities of four such organisations are presented below.



Vrutti’s flagship model ‘3Fold’ works towards the betterment of livelihood of small farmers and focuses on improving their income by 3-fold. This programme has a three-level engagement structure – Farmer, Community and System Level (viz. ecosystem). Started in 2010 with 250 farmers, the model is currently working with 37,500 farmers across 7 clusters in different agro-economic zones in five States, i.e. Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. The farmers access multiple services (farm, financing, market and institutions) to become self-reliant and resilient, while being responsible in their operations. Using the power of technology and partnerships, Vrutti has been constantly scaling up this initiative through ‘Platform for Inclusive Entrepreneurship’.

During first two phases of the lockdown, in its quest to provide people with vegetables at their doorsteps at affordable price, vegetables were procured from 113 farmers across the 3 FPOs. It provided income to the farmers and met vegetable needs of customers confined to their homes under lockdown.

Apart from the above, PPEs such as masks, hand gloves and sanitizers for staff, volunteers, farmers and customers; farming kit to 133 farmers; 500 medical kit to farmers; and grocery packs to about 2500 families were provided. Mask production was also taken up by members of FPOs. Roughly 45,000 households were provided health advisory, awareness, food supplies, medical kits and financial services during the COVID-19 situation.

Turnstone Global

The organisation works on issues such as education, health, women’s empowerment, skill development & livelihood. The organisation considers its livelihood intervention as most visible which is implemented through women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs), each having 15 to 20 women. The organisation currently supports 500 SHGs. Members of these groups are imparted with training to make useful decorative and daily use material for households like doormats, candles, bags, shoes, etc. The raw material for the same are mostly collected by women from around their habitats.

This intervention began in the year 2015 in 24 villages of West Bengal in the districts of Purulia, Darjeeling, North 24 Praganas and Birbhum. Target beneficiaries are women whose husbands mostly work outside home leaving them with adequate time to invest in decent work from home that can bring them additional income. Their customers are local shop keepers, employees of corporates and local people.

The success factors of the project are that the beneficiaries are women and they are disciplined in their work. Employees of the organisation are proactively working in tandem with beneficiaries to make the project successful. Most important challenge is to sell the products by finding the right customers, especially so in the lockdown period. Asking people to buy home décor is highly challenging in the Covid-19 period when people have lost their income source.

During the last three months the SHG activities were shut down since the mandatory social distancing was not possible. Now, the organisation is planning to resume interventions by focusing on catering to corporate gifting items. The organisation is mulling to re align its strategy to find work for the members of women’s SHGs by exploring other avenues like network marketing and services sector by organising for re-skilling them.

Sarthak Education Trust

Sarthak is working for empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) since 2008. It provides Health, Education, Vocational Skill Building, Sustainable Employment and Awareness support to PwDs. The Trust also works for creating an inclusive and equal opportunity ecosystem for PwDs through engagement and sensitization of various stakeholder groups such as Government Bodies, Corporate Groups and Academic Institutes.

Sarthak’s Skill Development programs provide with a wide range of unique skill building experiences for the youth with disabilities, that include leadership, social, communication, computers, and basic life skills. Training is imparted in 3 broad verticals, viz. IT – ITES, Tourism & Hospitality and Organized Retail to youth in the age group of 18 to 35 years.

These programmes are of three month duration and extend basic skill training to PwDs. Practical sessions in dedicated skill labs instil confidence in trainees. Regular assessments and revision sessions are conducted to ensure a rising learning curve for the trainees.

Allied Activities such as exposure visits to Industries, Guest Lectures, Motivational Sessions and Alumni Interactions are conducted to let trainees learn in varied settings. Till date over 16.000 persons have been trained and 18,000 assisted in finding employment opportunities.

During the lockdown, 1,200 people with disability got registered for vocational skill building in trades of IT, Retail and Hospitality. More than 300 PwDs have been provided sustainable job opportunities in leading corporate houses.

Community counselling was offered by community counsellors, specialised trainers (Sign Language Interpreters) and community mobilisers to counsel the PwDs and their families related to prevention strategies.

Smile Foundation

Receiving right skills and becoming employable have become critical for the youth today. The Smile Foundation could visualize the skill gap and brought The Smile Twin e-Learning Programme (STeP) to life quite early. STeP was kicked off in August 2007 in Delhi. Beginning with just two pilot projects in Delhi, STeP quickly expanded to 30 centres in the first five months. At the end of the first six months, when inaugural batches started to graduate – placements started. Businesses like Café Coffee Day and Croma were happy to absorb the first batch of students from STeP. Today, this flagship programme is proud to have 32,000 Alumni and 20,000 plus youth working across the retail sector (>150+ organisations like Café Coffee Day, Domino’s Pizza, Westside Stores, ICICI, HDFC, Reliance Retail, Big Bazaar, Spencer, Croma etc).
During the lockdown, “Smile on Wheels”, Smile Foundation’s healthcare mobile unit was deployed on 18th May in high-risk areas of the Dharavi Slum, to screen and refer patients. The team comprising of a doctor, nurse, and pharmacist scanned close to 1,000 patients of which about 200 have been found to be coronavirus positive and referred for further management. Smile Foundation has also reached out to 40,000 families across 14 states such as Maharashtra, Delhi-NCR, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh to provide psychological counselling needs through tele-calling covering both villages and urban slums.

The stories of social organisations presented above provide a rich mix of activities and responses that highlight the variety of activities taken up by organisations of the country in order to make lives better each day and teach people to remain prepared to respond to extreme situations in life. It is indeed refreshing to learn that the society in our country has a vibrantly resilient mechanism that helps people cope with situations that creates multiple challenges while treading the road of life.


Lives and livelihoods: A long road to tread on

The face of India’s COVID crisis has been the hapless migrant worker. How is the 350 million work force of these daily wage workers going to survive during the ongoing pandemic crisis resulting in the loss of livelihood due to continuous lockdown and economic collapse is the moot question today. While the government has been trying to mitigate the impact with relief packages and schemes for the vulnerable, the road seems too long.

By Vishwajeet Ghoshal , Director, Prayas JAC Society

Prime Minister’s announcement of complete nationwide lockdown, with barely a four hour notice from the intervening night of 24th/25th March 2020, just after his first address to the nation, aimed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. The consequent lockdown, in four phases spread out between March 25, 2020 to May 31, 2020 has been measured on parameters, namely, flattening the curve, reducing the growth rate of new cases, containing the spread and improving health care system. Within the first phase of 21 days of lockdown, the government realized strongly that the coming days will be of immense challenge of choosing between ‘lives and livelihood’.
India has prioritized saving lives over livelihood, though, at the same time, lifting the lockdown entails fresh spike in the national spread of COVID-19. Fearing the community spread, the decision of complete nationwide lockdown can be an exemplary decision. But, the question is how much of spade work has been done before to measure the real scenario at the grass root to measure the affordability of survival possessed by its people living under the BPL Category, Daily Wage Earners, Lower Middle Class Families and large number of the migrant populations working in the unorganized sector in metro cities, tier-1 and tier-2 cities. remains unanswered. Too much attention has not been paid on the status of the women workers as cited by a survey conducted by the Azim Premji University that 71 percent of women lost their jobs after lockdown.
All through the lockdown, the country witnessed the heart wrenching images of millions of migrant workers from Bihar and Jharkhand occupying centre stage in the collective consciousness of the nation, not because of the increasing number of COVID-19 infections, but because of the number of migrant labourers on the road struggling to get back home from far off places carrying their belongings and wailing children, many died on roads or at the railway tracks, unforgettable and unpardonable.
The COVID-19 outbreak has brought the lives of millions of homeless children at a grinding halt who live unnoticed under flyovers, in narrow lanes and by-lanes are the worst affected due to the lockdown. The recession precipitated by COVID-19 has been worse than the previous recessions as quoted in the fourth edition of the ILO Monitor, ‘COVID-19 and the World of Work’


Who are these People?

As a result of the economic crisis created by the pandemic, almost 1.6 billion informal economy workers (working in the unorganized sector have been treated as the most vulnerable in the labour market), out of a worldwide total of two billion and a global workforce of 3.3 billion, have suffered massive damage to their capacity to earn a living as quoted in the ILO Report. Guy Rider, ILO Director General quoted, ‘For Millions of Workers, no income means no food, no security and no future. [….] As the pandemic and job crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent’.
The face of India’s COVID crisis has been the hapless migrant worker. They have travelled hundreds and thousands of kilometres on foot, on cycles, some even on prosthetic limbs, or on barrows carrying their elderly parents or young or disabled children. Indeed, in their desperate bid to reach home they have tried every means of transport—land, water and even the sea.
How is the 350 million workforce of these daily wage workers going to survive during the ongoing crisis created by the outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic, eventually resulting in the form loss of livelihood due to continuous lockdown and economic collapse is the moot question today.

Safeguarding Lives and Livelihood: Response of the Central and State Governments

To mitigate the effect of the lockdown on the vulnerable groups, the union government announcement of INR 1.7 lakh crore package under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana’ was exemplary in nature to provide support in the form of free food and cash transfers to support the poorest citizens who are most vulnerable. It has within its ambit health workers, farmers, MGNREGA workers, economically vulnerable categories, especially women, elderly, and un organised-sector workers, Jan Dhan account holders and Ujjwala beneficiaries. The scheme entails an additional 5 kg of wheat or rice and one kg of preferred pulses every month to 80 crore beneficiaries for the next three months. Central Government also gave an order to the state governments to use Building and Construction Workers Welfare Fund of Rs. 52,000 crores to provide relief to Construction Workers through direct benefit transfer.
However, the fear of loss of livelihood sparked into the mass exodus of millions of these migrant labourers in some parts of the country, who started on a long ‘barefoot’ journey with their families, in the absence of transportation facilities, to their native places. This massive migration led to the chaotic situation on national highways, bus stops and railway stations and raised misunderstandings between states.
The NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar emphasized on seven point development model for the development of India, like, replacing English with the indigenous language as a contact language, governance with accountability and transparency, development approach, giving importance to the private sector, focusing on the employment scenario, making farming profitable by reducing burden on farmers, linking urbanization with the development of villages and reconciliation with nature in place of victory over nature. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs, (MCA) in its order dated 23rd March, ‘Keeping in view of the spread of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in India, its declaration as pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), and decision of Government of India to treat it as a notified disaster. It is hereby clarified that spending of CSR funds for COVID-19 is eligible CSR Activity’.

Economic Package: Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan

The Finance Minister Ms Nirmala Sitharaman announced on May 18, 2020 the last tranche of the 20 lakh crore economic package to fight against the corona virus pandemic, and aimed to emphasize on land, labour and liquidity coupled with focus on supply chain in the farm sector, taxation, simple and clear rules/regulations, sound infrastructure, competent and efficient labour force and a strong financial system to address the concerns of all sections of the economy, including migrant labourers, small vendors, farmers, micro, small and medium enterprises. (MSMEs)

COVID-19 pandemic, has taught us two things. One is to strengthen the health infrastructure in the country and also to adopt the global best practices to be modified, for local requirement, particularly, when it comes to saving lives and livelihood. Second, is to address the livelihood concerns, the focus should be on the demand side through sustainable agriculture with forward and backward linkages coupled by building strong base for the large number of micro, small and medium enterprises, by creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurs and workers. It is only when lives are saved and their livelihoods set in motion, would help in strengthening the post pandemic economy, inclusive of creation and sustenance of livelihoods.


Impact of COVID-19 on India’s industrial sector and the way ahead

By Soma Chakraborty

India, with the world’s third highest virus caseload, is one of the worst hit countries in the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown in India began in late March and was subsequently extended several times. Even though the country is now in the unlock-2 phase, stringent restrictions halted several economic activities and caused the industrial sector as well as lakhs of people, many of them daily wage earners, to lose their revenue streams.


According to investment bank Goldman Sachs, India has seen a massive 45% economic decline in the three months between April and June. Ratings agency Moody’s also slashed India’s credit ratings to the lowest investment grade level.
India’s industrial production dropped sharply when the country went into lockdown and most factories were not in operation. The sectors included mining, manufacturing and electricity.
The coronavirus pandemic has also had a devastating impact on India’s tourism industry. According to a study by CARE Ratings, the tourism industry is likely to incur a revenue loss of INR 1.25 trillion (USD 17.53 billion) in 2020, as a fallout of the shutdown of hotels and suspension of flights and trains after the onset of the pandemic. The study also revealed that during April-June 2020, the tourism industry has seen a revenue loss of approximately Rs 69.4 billion (USD 973.46 million), denoting a year-on-year loss of 30 per cent.


The lockdown also brought the hospitality industry to a standstill. The situation, according to the hospitality industry experts, is further aggravated by requisitioning of hotels for hospitalisation of COVID-19 positive patients by government.
Apex industry body Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) has recently written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, raising concerns regarding the orders by the state governments for requisitioning of hotels for attaching them to hospitals and converting them into extended COVID-19 hospitals for patients.
Hospitality consultancy HVS Anarock estimates occupancy rates for the organised hotels segment for the entire calendar year 2020 to be 34.5 per cent as against 66 per cent in 2019.
According to experts, the USD 247 billion Indian hospitality industry, which contributed 9.2 per cent to the GDP in the last fiscal, will see its revenue decline by Rs 90,000 crore in 2020.
The negative impact of COVID-19 on MSMEs has been intense with many having to pause or entirely shut their business. According to a survey conducted by the Endurance International Group, one third of MSME respondents confirmed that they are temporarily shutting their business until normalcy resumes. This pause in business is more prominent among MSMEs in metros cities and those in the retail and manufacturing verticals. Majority of MSMEs (nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed) believe that it will take up to six months for business to return to normalcy.
The COVID-19 crisis also deeply impacted the Indian start-up ecosystem with close to 12% startups stating shutdowns, according to a survey jointly conducted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Indian Angel Network (IAN).


According to Priyanka Kishore, head of India and Southeast Asia economics at Oxford Economics, India’s recovery trajectory is going to be weak as the country is struggling to get past the peak of the pandemic.
However, in June-end the government came up with many numbers and indicators, showing that economic activities in India are picking up in a decent pace. According to a government press release, early green shoots of economic revival have emerged in May and June with real activity indicators like electricity and fuel consumption, inter and intra-state movement of goods, retail financial transactions witnessing a pick up.
Echoing the data, the LG spokesperson shared, “Gradually we saw a surge in sales across various products. At a time, when health and hygiene have taken a centre stage in our daily lives and it is becoming imperative for the government to encourage stay at home, we find a growing market trend towards products which earlier had low penetration. Considering the current times, dishwasher and vacuum cleaner has become an essential appliance in the household. This year we are witnessing a long and harsh summer because of which we can see good sales in refrigerators and air conditioners.”
However, some sectors like power, pharmaceuticals, non-discretionary retail such as groceryand healthcare were spared from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Also certain business segments like banking and financial services industry (BFSI)and hi-tech verticals were more resilient and are reviving faster than others.

“There is no significant impact on the working in the power sector, except for the increase in safety measures — social distancing, sanitisation, use of face masks and minimum manpower congregated at any particular location and meeting held on digital platform,” an NTPC spokesperson said..


Though lockdown rules are being relaxed in India, it could be months before the cubicles are reunited with their occupants. The coronavirus pandemic has forced many industries to shift their work dynamics and adapt to contactless and borderless work, which have become the ‘new normal’.
Depending on the sector and scenario, the industries are leveraging new-age technologies and automation to enable future-of-work. They are working towards faster re skilling of workers and setting up of agile work teams that will operate efficiently in new work environments.
According to Jyothi Mayal, president of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), technology would be a major game-changer in the coming days.
The Indian tourism and hospitality sector is exploring a range of options like from contactless travel to immunity passports and open-dated stay packages to breathe life into a stalled business.

In the power industry, companies like NTPC have already put in place several initiatives that enable paperless working.

“All our employees are provided with laptops, reimbursement for broadband connections, mobiles, etc. and Microsoft Teams to enable them to work from anywhere,” the NTPC spokesperson said.

According to a survey conducted by Zinnov Consulting, approximately 30 per cent of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) started a business website or enabled e-commerce functionality since the lockdown started owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50 per cent of MSMEs surveyed has embraced video conferencing tools and WhatsApp to keep business running during these turbulent times.


The coronavirus pandemic has changed the direction of migration in India with many rural-based migrant labours from metros and urban India returning to the rural hinterland.

According to a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) report, the 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 the coronavirus.

In fact, many companies are already running sustainable agricultural projects in rural areas, which can also help the migrant labourers.

For example, NTPC’s project ‘Improving Farm Productivity’ has led to a sustained improvement in rural productivity, incomes and quality of life of the low-income rural population. Under the project, trainings are being provided to farmers on modern farm practices like crop-diversification, nutrient management, integrated pest management, tissue culture and drip irrigation.

“Farmers were taught crop diversification which enabled them to move away from subsistence staple food crops to diversified market-oriented crops with better returns,” an NTPC official said.


These are testing times for the industry sector in India. However, every crisis brings with itself an opportunity – it is about how the India Inc manage the risk and the choices it makes, that will determine its success. The India Inc has got the impetus to innovate, grow and establish and if it gets the act together and plays its cards right, it will play a vital role in making an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India).


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