Many environmentalists say that the extended lockdown situation from March, 2020 has rejuvenated the earth’s environment. Never mind if thousands of people are dying or falling to the dreaded virus. This cleansing of the earth is evidently visible all around. Rivers, ponds and lakes are cleaner, public greenery is thriving, the air is purer and there is less noise pollution.
On the other hand, extended work from home (WFH) situations and lack of physical activity and exercise are telling on the health of many and these will manifest into unhealthy monsters in near future. Similarly, children are being deprived of much-needed outdoor games and activities which help them in burning calories. The consequence of this unhealthy stay-at-home scenario will show up later in their adulthood.
The education system has turned on its head and online teaching is fast becoming popular in the new normal. How much of this will affect the eye sights of growing children who were already addicted to mobile screens for gaming and video-watching - only time will tell.
Industries like the health and medicare as well as the related insurance industry are the immediate beneficiaries of this unforeseen situation. People have realised that medical insurance is a must-have in this state of affairs.
Incomes have dropped and expenses have doubled for the average man and his family. Consequently, banks will also become beneficiaries by extending loans on properties, jewellery, etc. If moratorium can be availed for EMIs, credit card payments and the like, it doesn’t come for free. There is a huge cost attached to it which will raise its ugly head once the situation slowly returns to normal.
In many sectors like real estate construction, infrastructure development, the service sector and local food and product deliveries, there will be a spurt. However, the once available cheap labour has virtually disappeared. But local labour will benefit leading to more employment but it will be at a higher cost which in turn will push the production cost and shoot up prices.
Vishal Srivastava, President – Corporate Finance, ANAAROCK Capital, recently stated, “Let’s take the hypothetical situation of a developer’s residential project in Mumbai in the last stages of completion. The original date of completion was December 2020 as per RERA. Construction was initially funded by debt from a non-banking financial company (NBFC) and 60% of the sanctioned amount has already been disbursed. Now, the NBFC is rocked by severe liquidity pressures and cannot fund the project to completion. Sales have been lacklustre because of buyers’ increasing preference for ready-to-move or almost completed projects. By the same coin, sales will pick up once the project nears completion. Many existing buyers have bought units with construction-linked payment plans. Because the project is stalled, they’re not making any further payments. The developer’s ability to service debt has depleted and the project is now categorised as a non-performing asset (NPA).”
While on one hand, the environmental benefits are huge in the short term, on the other hand, the disastrous impact of the economic downturn is proving to be very dangerous. Starvation deaths, suicides and such personal calamities are increasing.
In the ongoing Covid care activities, several scams have already been reported. Unscrupulous businessmen, politicians and fly-by-night operators are out to make a killing, delivering substandard accessories and equipment to the hospitals and care centres. The government has opened so many care centres and quickly need them to be equipped and stringent quality checks are being given a go by. Another area of concern is that of the medical waste disposal which is already creating a panic situation in several cities. Already, there are photographs appearing in the press about used PPEs floating in rivers and mounds of disposables dumped in open grounds.
All modes of doing business, providing service and working in offices have turned itself on its head and in the new normal, we will see adaptations, adjustments, evolution and change in a big way. For, however the economy has suffered and reached rock bottom, there is only one way for it to go and that is – up!