Reacting to the Prime Minister’s address to the nation earlier today on the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown of the country, Dr Sangita Reddy, President, FICCI said that the Prime Minister has been a source of great inspiration for all of us and has coalesced people from all walks of life together in this hour of crisis and we are fighting this war on COVID-19 as a single unit. FICCI fully supports the decision of the Prime Minister that it is in the best interest of the nation to extend the lockdown for some more time and plan for a graded opening up. We feel that the strong and timely measures and an integrated approach taken by the government including the 21-days national lockdown greatly helped in keeping the growth of this pandemic under control. This also explains why India is in a relatively better position today compared to many other countries across the world.
The incubation period of the virus is 15-20 days. A 40-day lockdown is safeguarding us for two cycles of the virus and gives us a chance to consolidate the considerable gains of the first lockdown.
While there is a cost associated with the lockdown, one has to place it against the value of lives of our people and which are non-negotiable. FICCI is encouraged by the Prime Minister’s decision that while our priority will continue to be on saving lives, we will continue to take measures to preserve the livelihoods and bring the economy back on track. Estimates show that India may be losing close to Rs 40,000 crore daily due to the national lockdown with an estimated loss amounting to Rs 7-8 lakh crore during the past 21 days. It is also expected that close to 40 million jobs are at risk during the period April-Sept 2020. Hence an urgent relief package is also critical. The Prime Minister’s directions on graded opening will help start some production activity to ensure that as soon as lockdown opens, there are no shortages faced. Even in case of essentials, we are seeing that supplies have started to get impacted and so easing of lockdown may help ramp up production. Indian industry will comply with all the directions given by the Prime Minister and looks forward to the detailed guidelines on working of units in essential goods and services to be issued tomorrow by the government.
The author is President, FICCI and Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group