COVID-19: Now & Next

Pradeep Chamaria 

We have completed two weeks of the lockdown, although at a snail’s pace. This lockdown, a very important and timely action after an experimental lockdown on March 22, was initiated on March 25 to safeguard India against the worst pandemic, the broad based Covid-19. Prior to the lockdown India already was under self-lockdowns as majority of organisations resorted to Work from Home for their employees right from early March and also making necessary arrangements for a smooth working and also the welfare of their staff and their families.

The doctors, nurses and all other medical professionals and also the police on the frontlines are risking their own safety to keep our communities safe. Local government authorities and several social service organistions are working round the clock and closely with hospitals across India to provide necessary medical help.

After the imposition of lockdown, daily supplies are made available at citizen’s doorsteps through home deliveries. To maintain hygiene and safety standards, people have been provided with personal protective equipment including hand sanitisers, gloves, disinfectant sprays and face masks, along with training in COVID-19 related safety protocols.

Its April 8th today, and as we stand on the verge of completion of the 21 day lockdown, the fear of another lockdown looks unavoidable. The situation is still very tricky and in the last two days efforts are being made to completely seal selective areas to restrict the movement of people to further check the spread. Initially the areas chosen are the ones where a large number of positive cases have been reported and also where the density of population is quite high.

All the state governments have come together, and pitched in their efforts to fight against this all time deadliest enemy of mankind. Individual states have already started declaring the extension of the current lockdown to 30th April; Odisha is the first state to have declared so and other states are expected to follow u soon. Even on a national level, Mr. Modi has been discussing this with various state CMs. health officials and everyone else who has been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19 in the last few days.

People’s spirits are soaring high as India is standing united and fighting the disease against all odds. Though everyone including me is still confined to the boundaries of our homes as a precautionary measure, our family welfare through timely payments of our salaries for March has been ensured and also some corporate have announced additional bonuses and other materialistic benefits for their employees.

Still, Corona is spreading like a forest fire around the globe and in India, though we are not as badly affected as the rest of the world yet, but the concerns are mounting. Capital markets are heading south, employment sector is looking miserable, news of extension of lockdowns in advanced countries like Italy, USA are pouring in and I am  getting restless. Our salaries for the last month have started coming in, but the worries for current month salaries are mounting and new opportunities are dying out.

In one line, Corona is affecting people’s lives drastically. All of us are facing the grisly times that not even our great grand parents have ever seen as we have been negligent of the extent of damages that Corona was going to cause to the human kind.

Various organizations which have already adopted humanly Nobel measures to fight the scourge of coronavirus over the days and weeks to come include, UniAcco – A Market place for Student Accommodation, Edelweiss, a progressive and socially responsible organization, Testbook, a fast expanding EdTech Startup, Housejoy, a leading tech-driven Construction, Renovation, Interiors & Home Maintenance company, KlearStack, a Fintech/AI forUnstructured Data Extraction,  Mavenick Consulting, a Intelligent Automation Solutions: Artificial Intelligence & Robotic Process Automation,  Zaggle, an award-winning FinTech company digitizing spends to unlock value and drive business growth, PhonePe and many others.

We spoke to  Raj. N. Phani, Founder and Chairman of Zaggle about the measures they have taken, and he told us that Zaggle has taken multiple steps to ensure Employee Welfare such as Work from Home, Rotational Office Attendance for Critical Functions like Operations, Thermal Checking while entering the Office, and various other steps.

The most important measure to give it a human angle is the goodwill gesture for all employees for Zaggle in the form of a Rs 10,000 as a bonus already loaded on to each employee’s Zinger Card to manage the day-to-day essentials like groceries, masks, sanitizers, private transport, etc.

Cognizant will also give an additional 25% in basic wages to about two-thirds of staff in India and the Philippines, as a ‘sign of gratitude’ for continuing to work during the Covid-19 pandemic and accepting the challenge of serving their clients with empathy, initiative, integrity, and courage — all while supporting and uplifting one another.

Also various state govt. and the central govt. has initiated and provided various benefits for the poor, daily wage earners, and others though free distribution of food grains, milk, and medicines and also cooked foods. Many social service and charity organizations have also come forward and chipped in their help. Monetary help has also been provided to poor through help from various govt. agencies and monies transferred in their banks.

Unfortunately the numbers of Corona affected patients all over the world is still on the rise and the speed now is frightening having crossed one and a half million. India is no exception and the numbers are increasing exponentially; though the increase in India is not because of failure of efforts of people, medical warriors or the govt. Most of other countries have already entered the third stage of community spread, and we too are now almost standing at the entry gates.

The concern now is that what will happen now in case of an extended lockdown?

This is a major concern; though most of the big corporate houses with high cash reserves might sustain another lockdown and pay salaries to their staff, but it surely is going to hit the small and medium level organisations.

What should be done now? That’s a multimillion dollar question now written everywhere on the walls and peoples’ faces.

The economy is already looking at the biggest meltdown of our lifetimes, salary cut announcements are already coming in, new recruitments have already been told of postponement of their joining dates, and economic forums and labour unions have already predicted a rock bottom levels in employment opportunities in the coming two years and so on, the concerns are rising.

Only time will tell, what’s in store for all of us, but at this time of crisis we should not lose hope and keep fighting as we have been doing and emerge victorious to keep our Indian Tricolour hoisted above every other flag in the world

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