By RK Sinha
Extraordinary situation demands extraordinary action. It is as true in case of Coronavirus as in other cases. The virus which has created hardships for one and all cannot be wished away. It is more or less clear to every one now that it is not going to leave us soon. Efforts are on World over to find a solution but no drug or vaccine has been developed so far. Scientists and researchers have not lost hope but till such time as they are successful and a vaccine is out in the market we will have to learn to live with it. We cannot keep the factories and offices closed indefinitely. The virus has already caused immense loss to this country and others. Further losses will make the situation worse and demand a longer time for the revival of economy.
Nobody would like it.Not the government at the Centre in any case.Therefore,it should look for some other options.The government may allow offices and factories to be reopened under certain restrictions like social distancing.Employees in IT and some other such sectors may continue to work from home.Those who used to go to gyms for work-outs can exercise at home.Many of them have already started doing so with the help of Apps.So,the gyms may not be allowed to be reopened at present.
Some industrialists,economists and intellectuals hold the same view.Chairman of Mahindra group Anand Mahindra,for example, has said that a new work-culture is developing in the World.India has not remained untouched.A change is the need of the hour.There is no other alternative at present. Gaurav Mehrotra, founder and CEO of Project Backlinks,who has made a deep study of the post-Corona situation and come out with a report is also not opposed to the re-opening.He,has,however given some suggestions.The companies which will reopen in the new situation and this difficult time should keep the cafeterias and gyms shut.Lately,many offices have got large cafeterias and set up gyms.These cafeterias used to be open throughout the day and night.Professionals kept visiting them.If they remain closed,the social distance norm can be easily maintained.
It is time to re-analyse the situation and give a fresh look.The lockdown was imposed in the third week of March.We cannot keep the country in a lockdown situation indefinitely.The government seems to be thinking on the same lines. Union minister for road transport ,highways and small industries Nitin Gadkari has said the government is preparing new guidelines for the operation of public transport keeping in mind the social distancing norm.It gives the indication that the public transport will be also operational without much delay.Normalcy has to be restored,the sooner the better.
Already,the government has divided districts into zones,red,orange and green.In the last two zones many economic activities have begun.Taxis have been allowed to operate in these zones.Two passenger besides the driver can sit in them.Offices of many companies involved in real estate businesses have been re-opened. Chartered accountants’ firms are back to business.Many shops and establishments have also re-started operations in Delhi and Mumbai .Books and stationery shops have been reopened in Delhi’s Daryaganj. Shopkeepers in neighboring states are making purchases from these shops.Most of the customers are yet to be back but a beginning has been made.
Several government departments have resumed work in a normal way under the new guidelines.Public utility services had no break and were working as usual even during the lockdown period.They are working even now as usual.In banks the social distancing norm is strictly followed.Since banks receive customers in large numbers,they do not allow more than four or five persons at a time. Of course,bank employees keep masks and gloves on.
By now many offices have begun operations to bring the country’s economy back on track.It was needed.The country has already suffered a big revenue loss.It is also necessary to run offices and factories. Therefore their locks had to be opened .Conditions are not the same.We do not see the same smile on workers’ faces.Fear is writ large.But they have to forget their worries and work hard for higher growth.More offices will be re-opened in next few days.Sick workers,however, will have to be told that they should remain at home. Those suffering fever,cold and cough and having breathing problems should inform their bosses immediately.
Workers who are living normally but whose family members are infected with Covid- 19 should stay at home.Employees infected should not go to their offices under any circumstances.These safety measures will go a long way in keeping the virus away.All guideline should be followed.Minimum a metre distance has to be maintained by employees present.Hand-shaking has to be avoided in any case.
It is well known to most of us that when the offices are re-opened rounds of meetings are held.Meetings are held to plan actions for next day and days after that.Future strategy is worked out at those meetings.So,they are unavoidable.What can ensure safety is distance.These meetings should be held in big halls or at places where one-metre distance can be maintained.The number of rattendees may be cut down if a large space is not available. Everyone should wear a mask.Sanitizers or soap should be kept in every office so that workers can wash their hands for 20-25 seconds.
Wherever possible,working from home should be permitted.Factories can operate in shifts with smaller numbers of workers. It is in the interest of all,ordinary people,political parties,the government and the nation. We are badly down financially.The growth has to be accelerated.It cannot be done without re-starting the economic activities.Time is money.We have to keep this saying in mind.
( The writer is a Senior Editor,columnist and and former MP)