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Sensex, Stock Markets, And Supply Chains Have Been Hit By COVID-19. What Next?

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

latex gloves holding globeViruses are microscopic parasites, much smaller than bacteria, yet they have always been the greatest threat to mankind since time immemorial. We have been fighting against several types of viruses—Ebola, HIV and Dengue to name a few.

At the end of 2019 and at the beginning of the New Year, people living in Wuhan province of China started complaining about chest pains and showed symptoms similar to Pneumonia. After further investigations were carried out, they were diagnosed with a new type of virus, of the coronavirus family which, later, was named as COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Some days later, it was declared a pandemic and soon there was chaos everywhere.

The virus spread quickly all over the world and reached almost every country. Currently, 42,091,581 people have been already infected, and 1,144,279 declared dead due to the virus. In India alone, more than 7.7 million people are infected, out of which more than 1.1 million people have succumbed to it.

Not only has it caused panic in the health sector, but has destroyed the global economy to a great extent.

All the entities that are essential for the proper functioning of an economy are badly hit due to this unforeseen circumstance. All nations, including the most developed ones, are finding it difficult to get their economy back on track. Millions of people are unsure about their jobs. With most of the businesses shut for an extended period of time, employees as well as employers are under an immense psychological and financial burden and are finding it difficult to adjust with this abrupt change.

India, which was one among the fastest-growing economies of the world, has also been hit quite badly. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was already on a downfall since last some quarters and adding to the plight, cases of COVID-19 started rising consistently at the same time. With a view to check the increasing number of cases per day, Government of India decided to impose a complete lockdown for 21 days, which started from March 25, 2020, and brought the whole country to a standstill. Since the number of cases kept increasing by each passing day, the lockdown had never been lifted completely for many months.

The industries were shut down for more than a month. This created outrage amongst the workers. However, more than a month later, the Government of India allowed most of them to reopen, with half of their manpower working in each shift, providing momentary relief. But, since most of the workers already left the cities, the acute shortage of labourers was inevitable and may result in inefficient output from the industries. In addition to that, the lack of raw materials and disruption in supply chains has made manufacturing a difficult task now.

migrant labourers india lockdown
Migrants walking home. Representational image.

Not only the industries but COVID-19 has had a profound impact on India’s trade and businesses as well. Indian stock markets started to tumble rapidly when the cases related to COVID-19 started increasing in the country.

Many of the top-performing stocks have come to their all-time low as soon as W.H.O declared COVID-19 a pandemic. For example: In the month of October the previous year, IPO (Initial Public Offering) of the state-owned monopoly, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), was listed at twice its offer price of ₹320. By end of February 2020, it peaked to almost ₹2,000. But by March 17, it lost its value nearly by 50%. This is also true for most of the global stock markets. The average fall in each of the stock markets is 25-30% range.

The Bombay Stock Market too showed similar trend during this period. Sensex, the most popular market index of 30 companies listed under Bombay Stock Exchange, fell from a peak of 42,000 points this January 17 to below 32,000 in three months. It is only now that the share market is seen to be rising with some pace.

However, it is difficult to predict the movement of the stock market in the near future. When there is panic, the investors decide emotionally, and not rationally. The current situation of the world may be termed as a ‘Black Swan’ event, and its impact may even be deeper and longer than was expected in the very beginning.

This ongoing crisis has impaired the supply chains. Import and export businesses are suffering huge losses. Merchandise exports declined by a record 34.6% in March while imports declined 28.7% after countries sealed their borders to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak. One of India’s largest exports is business and professional services, which consists of business process outsourcing (BPO) viz. technical support and call centres largely based in India. This sector has been severely affected due to the lockdown measures in both the origin and destination countries.

Restaurants, cinema halls and other major public spots are closed and are scheduled to reopen. This has surely decreased the amount of revenue flowing to the government’s treasuries. The E-commerce sector, too, has suffered losses due to the COVID-19 crisis as logistics pertaining to unessential goods and some other activities were completely disallowed for many days.

However, e-commerce services are allowed in certain zones as of now, but the damage has already been done. People are reluctant to buy non-essential products, such as electronic gadgets and apparels which used to generate a lot of revenue for those firms. However, on a good note, people are choosing to buy medicines and groceries online and this will certainly make up some portion of the loss that has already happened. People across the country are trying their best to adjust to this unprecedented situation. Government has also put in all its efforts to tackle the menace.

But the fact that some enterprises, especially the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) will not be able to recover easily from the losses they suffered during the lockdown period is true. Hence, stimulus packages by the government are of utmost necessity for supporting them in order to thrive in future.

Indian Government has declared two stimulus packages as of yet, the one in the month of March was valued at a meagre 0.8% of the GDP, while another declared on 12th May is robust and is valued at about ₹20 lakh crore (10% of GDP) that includes Rs 1.7 lakh crore package of free foodgrains to poor and cash to poor women and elderly. It will cater to various sections including the cottage industry, MSMEs, labourers, middle class and industries. This will help the virus-hit businesses to some extent but more such packages are required in future to cover-up the losses.

As the country is gearing up to re-open soon despite the consistent growth in the number of cases related to COVID-19, the onus lies upon the public to deal with the virus responsibly adhering to the guidelines laid down by the concerned authorities. The businesses should adjust themselves to the new normal by wearing masks and frequent hand-washing and should also actively monitor the employees to make sure that no one is putting lives in danger until a permanent solution for this problem is made feasible by the researchers working tirelessly all around the globe.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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