The Indian economy will take around one or one and a half year to get its momentum
The COVID 19 pandemic has been disruptive for the Indian economy. Various sectors have been severely affected by the lockdown. The infrastructure sector is no exception. BE spoke to Anant Raj Kanoria, Chief Executive Officer, iQuippo about the economic impact of the virus outbreak.
Q. How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the infrastructure sector?
A. The impact of this pandemic has been significant. Most of the infrastructure activities have completely stopped and if the lockdown continues, the sector will come to a standstill. In the infrastructure sector, those using rental equipment and the sub-contractors will be most affected. However, at this point, health and safety comes first and it is better to stay at home rather than go to construction sites.
Q. How would this pandemic impact the Indian economy?
A. There are two aspects to this. The first is the economic aspect and the second is the social aspect. As our Prime Minister said in one of his speeches, it is necessary to contain this virus to protect a large number of people. There are some countries, which are suffering because of their negligence in taking early preventive measures. The society needs to understand that social distancing is the only way to fight this virus.
The economy will be affected due to the lockdown. Labour-intensive industries will be the most affected. The supply chain of almost all industries will be obstructed due to the lockdown. Our healthcare industry may be impacted severely. Health infrastructure in our country is not as robust as compared to the developed countries. I believe that the impact of this crisis will be felt for at least one year. For some businesses, it is a good time to sit back and make better strategies for the future. It is time to be innovative and increase the use of technology. Many have already started doing it in form of video conferencing to run business meetings.
Q. When can the economy be expected to recover?
A. It all depends on the government and their policies. There are certain businesses, which will have to face zero revenue for at least one month till the lockdown is lifted.
The government has taken several measures and they are doing well to contain this global pandemic. I believe the success of the preventive measures taken by the government is important for the revival of the Indian economy. For the infrastructure sector, the government needs to release funds and swiftly settle arbitrations or claims to ensure liquidity in the sector. I think the Indian economy will take around one or one and a half year to get its momentum back.
Q. What are your views on the preventive measures taken by the government?
A. The government has taken some good measures but they need to come up with some more. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the government is planning to bring in some liquidity in the system. It is needed because if a company is to take care of its employees and stakeholders after having zero revenue, it would have to be supported by the government.
Q. How is your organisation helping employees in this period?
A. The safety of our employees is the most important thing for us now. We had started spreading awareness among our employees even before the lockdown was implemented. We have tried to emphasise the importance of washing hands at regular intervals to keep them sanitised and clean as proper hygiene will prevent spread of infection. We have also helped our employees in availing health services and we are promoting social distancing.
Q. Is your organisation undertaking any CSR activity?
A. We did undertake CSR initiatives on a regular basis but now our main focus is to help the people inside our organisation by providing them with health services and food and transportation facilities. We are also planning to support the people in need outside our organisation but our primary priority is our internal strength.
Q. How has been your experience with the concept of work from home?
A. Business cannot take place without meetings and in our nature of business, to crack a deal you need a lot of documentation and meetings and we are not able to do those things. The good thing is that we are able to make better strategies and we are getting good output from our employees. Digitally, we are getting good traffic. We are having increased visibility and people are taking note of our products and services. I can expect that this increased digital visibility will translate into better business opportunities once the situation normalises.