We Cannot Have Health Without the Economy and Economy Without the Health

New Delhi: Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, CII brought eminent personnel from across the industry to address the issue of Health and Economy. The government has undertaken decisive measures to balance the lives and livelihood issue, however, there is still a long way to go as various models predict different timelines as to when India will reach its peak. The lockdown has provided time for our nation to build capacity to deal with the different scenarios that may arise, but it is fundamental that the right balance between the health and economy is reached to lead India through this crisis.

The current trend in India is not as sharp as the western world with our curve relatively flat, as the lockdown has given us time to build capacity in various areas such as testing and hospital facilities- Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS. Our next challenge is to work aggressively on the hotspots as 80% of the cases come from hotspots and therefore what is imperative is to micromanage the situation. The crisis we find ourselves in provides the ideal opportunity for India to boost its manufacturing in health-related products and healthcare. We are on our way to testing 100,000 people a day and therefore a revised test strategy is required due to our population size.

The velocity at which we hit our peaks will be the greatest test of our underlying capacity and therefore we need to have the ability to calculate the multiplier effect on the shop floor after the lockdown stated Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman CII National Healthcare Council & CMD -Medanta. Our primary concern is to guard ourselves, our families and ultimately the nation at large. We need to imbibe the values of regular hand sanitization, use of masks and social distancing until it becomes a societal norm. Dr Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon Limited, building on what Dr Guleria and Dr Trehan, stated this adversity has awakened our scientific potential in every possible way. India is the largest producer of vaccines in terms of volumes and this is the opportunity to be the largest producer of the coronavirus vaccine for the world. Our primary focus should be in keeping our mortality rates low and with 90% of our population under the age of 60, we are in a much better place in combating the disease. Our mantra moving forward should be Discipline, Awareness and Surveillance.

Our biggest challenge is to find the right balance between health and economic activity. Although only 20% of the districts across the nation are classified as red zones, they account for 50% of the economic activities – Dr Naushad Forbes, Past President CII & Co-Chairman Forbes Marshall. As organizations biggest incentive and interest is ultimately keeping their workforce safe and healthy, we need to find an organized, safe and sustainable restart of the economy, with a lack of distinction between essential and non-essentials in manufacturing. It is imperative that we open the economy in a safe, systematic and transparent manner. The provision of direct benefit transfers through Jan Dhan accounts must lead the way to help restart the economy as it will take longer to bounce back due to the loss of earnings in the informal sector.

Addressing the concerns of the industry and informal workers, Mr Vikram Kirloskar, President CII and Chairman and MD Kirloskar Systems Ltd and Vice Chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Group stated the most important thing the industry and individuals have to do is to respect the workers, and this lockdown has provided the opportunity for industries to assess the benefits of moving to areas where the migrant workers are from. We cannot have the health without the economy and the economy without health, therefore we need flexibility and safeguards with labor laws being relooked at. To come out of this crisis, Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII stated that we need to be responsible and have a strong government-industry partnerships