Three weeks of lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic and India’s economy will take a beatingthat could be worse than the lukewarm condition it was already at over the last few years. Estimatesshow that the lockdown could bring the country’s growth down to 2.5% from 4.5% projected earlier. While health spending must come first, all kinds of industries will need bailouts from thegovernment – airlines, hospitality and energy among them.
This comes at a time when many industries were already challenged. In the months leading up tothis crisis, air pollution over Indian cities had hit record levels. Financial markets were struggling witha liquidity crisis. The power sector was also in trouble.
Yet, in the midst of this economic darkness, Delhi’s air has never been cleaner and skies haven’tbeen more blue. Even urban balconies are seeing sunbirds. Traffic has come to a halt, sidewalks areclean and the new green of springtime is everywhere. Greenhouse gas emissions have no doubtfallen.
But this is not the sort of environmental clean-up people are looking for. Climate action and reducingpollution must come from economic growth, not the loss of it. Reviving the sectors hardest hit bythe economic downturn will need direction – rather than straight out cash injections.
Perhaps this isour one opportunity to give it that direction – to orient these industries and their markets – towardsa green, efficient and inclusive future?