The prolonged Covid-19 Lock down has on one hand devastated the national and global economies, on the other the Covid infected cases are on the rise each day despite the closure of work activity.
With over 6058196 Covid cases and 3,67386 deaths worldwide, that include 1,74355 Covid cases and 4984 deaths in India, we are moving close to the end of Lockdown 4.0 in India. With Lockdown 5.0 starting, albeit with large scale relaxations, we learn to live with the corona virus, despite the ongoing threat and fear of death that continues to loom on the society at large.
Hundreds and thousands of webinars keeping the people busy whole day and giving our political leaders a chance to address the nation on Media and Social media is a new normal now.
But that is not what the New Normal that we need to rebuild the New India of our dream that would be free from poverty, unemployment, the misery of disease and air and water pollution that was the normal of the urbanisation based models of economic development and growth pre Covid lockdown.
We cannot close our eyes from the massive migration from the rural areas that was prompted by the attraction of the city based culture of development that under the disguise of the glittering lights of urbanisation destroyed the villages that once were the self-reliant centres of human habitats in the lap of nature.
With increased GDP growth as the indicator of national prosperity, we cultivated heaps of unemployment, poverty, unprecedented economic divide, further made miserable by massive air and water pollution creating together an unhappy life making India as one of the most unhappy countries, having ranked 144 amongst 156 countries as per the World Happiness Index released in March 2020.
As such, the New Normal needed for developing New India where there would be no one unemployed and environment is healthy, requires an ultra-radical departure to our approach to development and growth. To draw this New Normal we need to keep the following indicators as the basis for our developmental strategy.
The workers of the unorganized as well as loosely organised sectors comprising of over 90% of India’s workforce many of whom were living in Mega cities have now returned to their villages in anguish and in pains of Covid-19 prolonged lockdown form one of the important consideration of this New Normal Development plan.
Most of these workers are highly skilled and have been the pillars of industrial and economic growth for years together and have the rich experience of working in MSMEs and ultra-small enterprises.
If we are able to harness this rich skilled manpower and able to push India’s industrialisation to a new normal of optimal rural-urban mix of new enterprise development that shall cause rapid growth of Mass Entrepreneurship of small and nano enterprises creating millions of new jobs in areas that have this New opportunity of growth, now that the manpower has returned to their roots in rural areas.
But then, the workers alone are not the sufficient conditions for the growth of NMSEs, they require the genius of young inspired minds of tech-savvy youth who are currently enthused to build the new India of their dream.
They need to go out in rural India and integrate their techno entrepreneur talent and work together with the workers who have returned to their villages to cause the rapid growth of NMSEs for ushering a new agro-industrial revolution.
The government on its part should support the young India with massive investment plans to cause this new upsurge of techno economic development that shall create employment in plenty and growth with equity and inclusiveness.
On top of the new normal for mass entrepreneurship based rural industrialisation, the government should move fast to attract the advanced technology intensive industries that are desirous of moving to India from countries like China and facilitate their growth in the already developed industrial states around many cities.
I see such a great opportunity for UP in Noida and Greater Noida, Manesar and Sonepat in Haryana, Neemrana in Rajasthan and Sinner near Nashik in Maharashtra. This is just to indicate a few such places that can facilitate rapid relocation of industries from abroad.
There is no dearth of such developed locations in India as a lot has been done in the past by the successive state and central governments to develop SEZs for industries but without much success as a lot of developed space in SEZs is currently available.
But today there is this new opportunity that is knocking at India’s doorstep. India should encash this great opportunity.