The emergence of the 2019 novel coronavirus threatens the world, and it is an unprecedented shock to the Indian economy. Before COVID-19 emergence, the Indian economy was already in a parlous state. With the countrywide lockdown, prolonged quarantines, supply chain disruptions, and a sharp reduction in tourism and many other industries, the Indian economy is likely to face a period of economic slowdown, and even it can cause a recession in the country. In this article, we will discuss the impact of the Indian economy because of the COVID-19 period, and how it affects the tourism industry, impact on international trade, and how it violates the fundamental rights of the citizens.
HOW DID IT START?
A coronavirus is a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. It is a family of viruses that can cause a range of illness and more severe life-threatening diseases like SARS and MERS. It is believed that it occurred in the illegal wildlife market in Wuhan (the Capital city of Hubei province). World Health Organisation declared novel coronavirus disease emergence as a pandemic and reiterated the call for countries to take strict and necessary measures to save people’s life. On 22 March 2020, the Indian government announced a country-wide lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. These actions might lead to dire consequences for the Indian economy. Because of COVID-19, the economy of the country could not function properly. This article gives a bird’s-eye view of how COVID-19 affects the Indian economy (tourism and trade), violates the fundamental rights of citizens.
- How Coronavirus affects the trade (export and import) of the Indian economy?
- How Coronavirus violates the fundamental rights of citizens?
- How coronavirus affects the tourism of the country?
The unprecedented lockdown in India is expected to have a significant adverse effect on the economy. As the various activities of the country are on halt and it severely disrupts supply mechanisms and distribution sectors in mostly all the sectors. Countries have closed their international borders, bringing international trade and commerce to a halt. The economy was already not functioning properly before the COVID-19 outbreak, but the emergence of this virus will definitely worsen the situation of the Indian economy.
IMPACT ON EXPORT OF INDIAN ECONOMY:
Because of coronavirus, Indian exporters find themselves in a situation of turmoil as trade in the country’s top destination is paralyzed. China, USA, UAE, Germany, UK, Italy are the largest contributors to the country’s basket of merchandise exports. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development published a report in which they estimated that the slowdown of manufacturing in China is disrupting the world trade. India is among the 15 most-affected economies because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The international shipping lines are affected by the novel coronavirus. The export credit had contracted by about 23% even before the outbreak of the global crisis. The exports of the Indian economy came down by 8.2% to $16.3 billion. The current fiscal exports dropped by 1.5% to $292.91 billion. If the coronavirus pandemic continues for a large period, Indian exports to China would also get hit in the areas of Petrochemicals., gems and jewelry, organic chemicals, etc. India is one of the major exporters of petrochemical to China (34%).
IMPACT ON IMPORT OF INDIAN ECONOMY:
China is the biggest contributor to India’s import. The slowdown of production in China because of the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic not only affects the Chinese economy but also disrupts the global economies. India is one of those economies who hit severely hard by the slowdown of production in China. India’s import basket saw a dip of 16% during March driven by decreases imports of gold, a sharp drop in crude oil prices. Around 18% of India’s merchandise is being imported from China. India highly depends on China for electronics components (67%), auto components, and consumer durables (45%). Of the top 20 products(at the two-digit of HS Code) that India imports from the world, China accounts a significant share in these products. 90% of certain mobile phones come in India from China. Further thus effect depends on how long this pandemic.
India has a trade impact of around 348 million dollars.
HOW CORONAVIRUS VIOLATES THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE CITIZENS?
The current situation violates the fundamental right of citizens under article 14 and article 21 of the Constitution of India. Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Gotham states no one is above the law. It provides for equality before the law or equal protection of laws.
The government of India has suddenly announced the lockdown in the country on 22 March and the decision of the government hit hard economically, especially to poor sections. Poor people (workers) cannot access healthcare treatment in this serious pandemic. The government is not providing food, shelter, and sanitation, and health facilities to migrant workers, and as a result one-third of migrant workers infected with the coronavirus.
There is also a disparity in providing quarantine facilities to have and have not. The venerate people are provided with well-furnished rooms whereas in many places poor people are quarantined in a room which is already crowded and that does not necessarily complete the objective of social distancing. Conditions of patient bed, food quality is appalling, and it ultimately affects the condition of these people. Government assures every citizen in country and especially the migrant workers that they will provide the workers medical supplies and necessary facilities and by quoting that “no one is on the road’’. But in reality, migrant workers who are under observation of getting infected were not immediately transferred to hospitals.
In India, the healthcare system is totally based on the patient’s ability to pay, rather than their utmost need. This also bridges the gap between having and having not. Because rich people have the means to pay for getting proper treatment whereas poor people don’t have the means to test themselves. Even if we study the condition, the Middle class is going to affect largely because the poor may get some relief from the government, and the rich have the means to survive. But the middle class neither gets means from the government nor has enough means to survive in this pandemic.
- In coronavirus pandemic, Article 21 has violated the Constitution of India. Article 21 guarantees the protection of life and personal liberty to every citizen. Protection of life ultimately gives the right to health to citizens. Health includes not only medical supplies but also includes sanitation, adequate water, hygiene, healthcare waste management, and proper cleaning. The government cannot provide necessary equipment like test kits, masks, PPE to hospital authorities essential to test the coronavirus and to prevent the virus from escalating. In many states, it has been recorded that states have demanded 10000 test kits from the Centre and only 250 kits were provided and it shows the inability of the government. The availability of just 52 designated centers for coronavirus testing was inadequate in India, which is a populated country. The government is not providing basic humanitarian aid, medical facilities, and emergency services to poor people. Because of lockdown, people who are working on daily wages, their employment ended, wages were stopped by owners, and as a result working people are left to starve.
- A large population in the country cannot buy ration supplies from their home. Very few people who are going to getting food are getting food from community kitchens. There is no specific provision introduced by the government for slum dwellers as they are facing a lot of difficulties for getting food in ration shops because of less stock. In slum areas, most people are engaged in cleaning service and they are not providing with any protective gears like masks, gloves, boots etc. to protect themselves from this virus and their houses were not sanitized as there is a large possibility of spreading virus. Sanitation facilities are completely ignored by government in slum areas and poor regions of the country, as the supply of good drinking water has disrupted and there is no proper cleaning management. Many cities of India have unnecessary test kits for testing the coronavirus; if any person is suspect of getting infected he is transferred to nearby metro city because they have not any mechanism for testing. This shows the inability of the government to provide necessary equipment’s in the country.
- Medical experts, Patients, and Hospital authorities are facing a lack of basic hygiene protocol, lack of quarantine facilities and isolated rooms, shortage of health professionals (nurses and doctors), and shortage of necessary medical facilities in the hospital. Hospital authorities have complained they are lacking essential items like respirators and disinfectant, necessary to prevent viruses. The government has not announced yet any provision for the wages of the unorganized sector and they are deprived of employment and it has been evidence by crowded scenes at the railway stations, bus terminals, etc. Central Government and State Government of the Republic of Gotham should take necessary measures to deal with this epidemic. Government has an obligation to minimize the risk of occupational accidents and diseases by ensuring that workers have adequate health information and adequate protective clothing and equipment in the event of sickness. The government should not ignore those people who are now suffering from problems other than coronavirus like diabetes, thyroid, cardiovascular diseases, etc. and it is clear as hospital authorities are not providing proper medical facilities to these patients.
- Private hospitals have been closed in many states of the country after the lockdown. Most medical shops are closed or out of stock in the country. Nearly all the Public Hospitals have closed their labs, OPD’s, and they refused to admit new patients. People faced a lot of problems in availing essential medicines like diabetes, HIV, AIDS, blood pressure as they are not available in the market. The restriction on the transportation of medical supplies affects people a lot in the country. These problems faced by people show that the nonfulfillment of these facilities takes more lives than the deaths caused by the coronavirus.
In this way, coronavirus violates the fundamental rights of the citizen and increases inequality in the country.
HOW CORONAVIRUS AFFECTS THE TOURISM OF THE INDIAN ECONOMY?
We know India for its tourist attraction places and for its lavish treatment to all its visitors. Presently, India offers great potential in the medical tourism industry. There are various factors that attract Indian tourism such as low cost, scale and range of treatments provided in the country add to its attractiveness as a medical tourism attraction. Because of the lockdown, the Tourism sector is one of the most affected sectors in India. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, India’s tourism has contributed Rs. 16.91 lakh crore, which is 9.2% of India’s Gross Domestic Product.
Tour operators estimated January–March quarter earnings could fall by over 60% from a year ago because of the canceling of travel by tourists. India affects nearly one million foreign tourists a month, and the travel restrictions amid lockdown could hurt for a few months. India annually earns $30 billion from foreign tourist arrivals, and the tourism industries are worried that this global virus slows down economic growth. Millions of people work in the tourist sector, and domestic tourism is big in India and it rises unemployment in India.
Because of the lockdown, lakhs of people lose their daily wages and the tourism sector (aviation sector) will lose around 100000 jobs. The tourism sector provides 8.1% of the total employment of the Indian economy. According to the Chamber of Indian Commerce, the whole tourism value chain across hotels, travel agents, tour operations, restaurants, land and sea transportation are hardly hit by the coronavirus. According to a report published by CII, almost 28 million-plus Indians are estimated to have traveled outside in 2019, and there were almost 1.8 billion domestic tourist footfalls. Cancellations of visas by the government affect the tourism sector. There is an estimation of demand slowdown for the upcoming Holiday season.
As the outbreak of coronavirus hits trade of Indian economy and it is expected by the International organizations, that it will cause an economic slowdown in the country.
It also results in tremendous losses to the tourism sector, and this will lead to an enormous loss to the country’s GDP. COVID-19 has posed an unprecedented challenge for the Indian economy. It also violates the basic rights of human beings.
So overcoming this difficult situation, the government should take necessary and measures. Although the center and state governments have designed policies and measures that this response should be the beginning.
The government should give relief to the aviation sector for losses, the government should wave the parking charges, airport charges, and landing charges for a couple of months.
To ensure the rights of human beings, the Government should provide basic facilities like sanitation, access to health care (quarantine facilities), and hygiene to all sections of the society.
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This article is written by Gunjan Aggarwal, a law student from Nirma University.