Int’l webinar on Covid-19 and global economy underway

RONO HILLS, Jun 22: A two-day international webinar themed ‘Impact of Covid-19 pandemic on global economy’ got underway at Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) here on Monday.
Conducted by the university’s economics department, the webinar is being attended by more that 160 scholars, students and academicians from different parts of the country and abroad.
Addressing the participants, RGU VC, Prof Saket Kushwaha said the pandemic has had a huge impact on the global economy, and advised the scholars to “look beyond the negative impact on GDP to understand the impact of the pandemic on various sections of the society.”
He said there is a need to invest more in rural areas in order to generate employment opportunities, and urged the scholars to conduct studies to identify the problems of unemployment in the rural sector.
The VC also said the MGNREGA “must be made output-oriented to create rural infrastructure and promote rural development.
“There is need for all of us to know our duties and responsibilities, and imbibe the principle of swadeshi to overcome the crisis situation,” he said.
Mumbai-based Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research VC, Prof S Mahendra Dev spoke on the impact of Covid-19 on India’s economic growth. He highlighted the impact of the pandemic on various sectors of the economy and advised “fiscal push to provide relief to affected people, and public investment to stimulate demand.”
New Delhi-based Institute for Human Development’s director, Prof Alak N Sharma gave a lecture on ‘Implications of Covid-19 for employment and livelihoods in India’. He said the impact of the pandemic has been uneven, with the worst affected being the poorer sections of the society.
“There has been loss of 48 percent of total employment in the country in the last three months due to the pandemic,” he informed, and advocated initiating “demand side measures to stimulate the economy.”
Honorary fellow of Trivandrum (Kerala)-based Centre for Development Studies, Prof KP Kannan delivered a lecture on ‘Globalization at a turning point: Will Covid-19 lead to an alternative vision?’
“Globalization is at a turning point and has led to inequality of different kinds. In most countries of world, the pandemic has exposed the deficiency in the public healthcare system,” he said, and suggested developing the local economies, “so as to secure oneself and reduce dependency on other countries.”
Prof Barbara Harris White from the University of Oxford (UK) spoke on ‘Covid-19 and UK’s economy and society’.
She said the pandemic has “aggravated the economic uncertainty on UK’s economy which was already slowing down due to Brexit,” and added that the UK’s economy is expected to decline by 12 to 14 percent in 2020.
“UK is one of the worst-affected countries by the pandemic, which was due to delayed response of the government, as well as systematically outsourcing of the public healthcare system to private sectors,” Prof White said, and called for enhancing public investment in healthcare infrastructure.
Prof Deepak Kr Mishra from Jawaharlal University, New Delhi, delivered a lecture on ‘In the mirror of a crisis: Vulnerable migrant workers in globalizing economy’.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic “has created unprecedented crisis of survival for the migrant workers in India” and linked it to “structural reasons.”
“These workers, even while working under globally integrated economy, are subjected to varying degrees of un-freedom,” Prof Mishra said, adding that “policy response to their livelihoods crisis must recognize these structural causes of vulnerability, rather than limiting itself only to providing short-term relief.”
Prof Rajarshi Majumder from the University of Burdwan delivered a lecture on ‘Pandemic and migration’.
“Seasonal migrants are unrecorded, and so they are the most affected and exploited people. Migrant workers are indebted at home and exploited at workplace, and so the pandemic has badly affected them, as many lost their jobs,” he said. “They suffered during the lockdown due to sudden stopping of income and non-possession of ration card at the place of work to get PDS rations. Many of them had to stay without adequate food and medicines.
“Reverse migrants back to home were subjected to atrocities and adverse conditions in terms of households and social conflicts,” the professor said, and suggested providing “universal PDS as well as universal ration cards to all citizens of the country, besides cash subsidy, and engaging NGOs for distributing food items to affected migrant workers.”
RGU Economics Department Head, Prof Vandana Upadhyay also spoke.