When we talk about the kind of challenges that Kerala is going to face post -pandemic, it can be differentiated into health, economic, and social. Vaccinating the entire population of Kerala is bound to be a major hurdle. Now, Kerala being a major tourist destination will open up for tourists from across the globe. There will always be a looming threat with regards to the person entering Kerala. While the European Union is already discussing issuing global vaccine passports, we can assume other countries too will introduce the same. Even Indian government might come up with something similar. However, it is the inflow of domestic tourists that worries me. Dealing with it is bound to be a huge challenge.
Kerala being a service sector oriented economy with hardly any industries unlike states like Maharashtra, the adverse economic impact is going to be far higher. A factory can function even during a lockdown with Covid protocols. But in a state like Kerala, the service sector only functions when there is a physical human interaction. The challenge is to see how ready we are to solve this situation. E-Commerce is one way through which we can try and tackle this. It is high time that we accepted E-Commerce as a reality, but Kerala is not ready to embrace its full potential yet. The possibility of e-commerce was raised years ago and had we accepted it back then, we would have been in a much better position now. Remittance is going to be another major challenge. While GCC nations are limping back to normalcy, my worry is that Malayalees in these regions might lose their jobs, for reasons such as focus on local employment and more jobs becoming technical in nature.
Our government should be ready to debate what the post- pandemic changes are going to be like. Topics such as how one’s work relations and social relations have changed since the pandemic and how it is bound to change needs to be up for debate. The US is already discussing minimum wage in an online work environment. Now, it is not just about COVID, I think we should be prepared for other similar situations where some unknown virus or health emergency might emerge in the future. This is a big learning experience for all the countries. We need to be ready for a quick response.
This article was published in Cochin Herald.
Views expressed by the author are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of Centre for Public Policy Research.