Tempers are running high in various parts of the world. From the fear and confusion of earlier months, countries moved to piecing together economic packages for their people and now, towards the end of May, the view ahead seems to be shaping up for most economies. This view is conditioned by both – money and patience, that administrations have at the end of more than ten weeks of battling the virus. Turning inwards is the new re-orientation. While a lot seems to be rolling back in terms of international cooperation, trade and collaboration, domestically, governments are breaking into newer spaces of control, coercion and management. For instance, Uttar Pradesh is setting up a government agency for managing allocation of its domiciled workers to industry. These moves could not have been planned. They are event triggered responses that are creating a systemic reference point for a future wherein even if the current mechanisms are discontinued, there will always be a reference about the kind of action governments took.
In post-pandemic India, sectors which are likely to look significantly different will include healthcare (of course!), education, labour relations, corporate affairs, international trade and public management. These sectors will change not due to variation in spending or support from the governments, but in their very configuration. State governments are running out of money. So are companies. It has become imperative to prioritise re-opening of the country and economic activity if the people are to survive the months ahead. The erosion of resources and spirit has been rapid.
I have moved from Karnataka to Maharashtra. The difference in responses of the two states to control Covid-19 and balance it with economic compulsions is striking. One thing common to both states though is that for both of them places beyond their capitals – Bengaluru and Mumbai, do not exist. All their attention is fixated on the capitals. The districts in both these states contribute significant amounts of resources and yet they are left to the district collectorates with guidelines from the state.
Life ahead will change. The fear isn’t just of getting infected with coronavirus. A bigger fear is about running out of money and resources just when people need it the most. In this all of us are united on this planet.