The lockdown imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic had repercussions that echoed in every corner of India. Not a single household, farm, shop, office, or factory could escape. And the lockdown and the pandemic will have short-term and long-term impacts for all of us—the ‘new normal’ has become a much-used and abused cliché and, purveyors of doom and gloom abound.
As stakeholders in India’s present and its future behooves us to look beyond this miasma for the proverbial silver lining and work on re-building India to even greater heights. And just like a startup uses its own resources to start building, we also need to start by ‘bootstrapping’, and that is what being ‘Atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) is all about.
Let us start by touching upon two of the lessons from the lockdown that are relevant for our discussion.
We have, over time, become more and more dependent on imports from China—from pharmaceutical ingredients to raw materials and base components of automobiles, chemicals, and textiles. Not surprisingly, this has now become an urgent wake-up call for the Indian industry to realize its potential and develop its own local sourcing units to become more resilient and adaptive.
Next, our supply chain and the logistic sector have faced the biggest damage due to the absence of manpower, its most critical resource. And this, in turn, is due to the dependency on migrant workers who have returned to their native village leaving over 50 per cent of India’s trucking fleet stranded without drivers and as well as the logistic industry of cargo loaders and handlers.
In addition to this, the manufacturing industry has also been directly impacted due to the unavailability of the labor force as well as disruption in their supply chain.