India Unready for Work from Home amid Covid Crisis, Places Global IT Infrastructure at Risk

Avatar for Sowjanya Putrevu

The first case in India was in the state of Kerala. Two Indian students studying in China tested positive for corona during the big outbreak in China. Immediately they were quarantined and the effects were limited to two people. Later, both of them recovered and were discharged. For almost two months there were no more cases. But, on March 2nd, 2020, two new cases were identified from people who traveled to Italy and Saudi Arabia. After that, the spread continued and now already more than 100 cases have been identified.

Alerts from the government

The government of India has introduced checkups and started collecting information about the passengers and their travel details. “All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, U.N./international organizations, employment, project visas, are suspended till the 15th of April 2020,” said India’s Health Ministry in a statement which comes in effect from the 13th of March. India closed its doors to France, Germany, and Spain. Such restrictions were already in place for worst-hit countries China, Italy, Japan, Iran, and South Korea. Government authorities are trying to sanitize the railway coaches, which is the biggest railway system in the world. However, the local small business and people in the most parts of India are still leading normal lives amid corona virus out break.

The state governments are alerting people about hygiene and best practices to avoid panicking. Karnataka announced a whole lock down for a week to contain the spread. Many states closed the cinemas and malls to avoid large public gatherings. Many sports events were initially planned to be conducted as closed-door events but ended up being canceled due to the increase in the number of cases. However, these measures are in place only for the metropolitan cities and the awareness still needs to be spread rapidly for rural regions. The severity of the pandemic did not reach rural villages yet where the hygiene is at a minimum.

The panic of people has increased, the hospitals are flooding with people even when there are no symptoms. The other side of the coin is that the infected are running away from hospitals and isolation wards in fear of being quarantined. Both my parents are working in the emergency departments(health and electricity). They are working round the clock to create awareness in the rural areas by conducting campaigns. My mother as a health representative is organizing the groups to go to each house in the locality to provide the necessary information and conducting basic check ups for fevers and cold. The health representatives are also collecting information about people who returned from foreign countries and checking for symptoms.

Work from home effects

India is not very prepared digitally. Lots of people cannot work from home. Many people still do manual jobs and lots of people do not have laptops. Work from home would be next to impossible in India other than for IT staff. In some projects for American banks work from home is not allowed due to security issues. Even in IT companies, there is huge shortage of laptops which might lead to disruptions in the world economy if not handled as India is a major outsourcing center for IT and service jobs.

Corona effect on economy

The annual GDP growth of India has dropped to a mere 4% from 7-8% in the past few years. Indian stock markets collapsed on March 9. Sensex lost 5 percent of its value which is the highest amount since the 2008 financial crisis. Closure of malls, movies, cancellation or postponing of cricket matches including the biggest cricket event of the country “IPL” can cause huge losses.With high dependency on China, supply shortages might cause inflation too.

E-commerce market surge

However, the E-grocers like Bigbasket see sales going up by 20% in the cities. A 80% rise is reported by Grofers just in Mumbai as they started panic buying over the last 2 days. FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) commission claims that there are no shortages and said they will speed up the supplies to shops. The delivery of goods are delayed and can expect huge surge in prices on goods like sanitizers and other essential goods.

India did not reach the peak of the corona spread yet. The next few weeks will be crucial for not just containing the spread but also for the economy of the country and maybe the stability of IT infrastructure in the world.

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