Surendra Ullal and Ramesh Soparawala
Diwali is round the corner knocking on the door for a hearty welcome as usual. This year however is different. All of us would like to extend a grand welcome but the Coronavirus has played havoc all round – social and economic life being the prime victims.
Nevertheless, we take this opportunity to offer our heartfelt Diwali Greetings to all. It is also important to exude optimism that sooner rather than later, not only we shall conquer this deadly disease but shall also get over the negative impact that it has wrought on our daily life.
As is our tradition and vogue, this year too we sought views of our community leaders and readers on burning issue of Corona virus. What they think about this deadly virus and its impact on economic activity in coming year? And the consensus was that this we have to live with this problem for at least a few more months but its impact on the economic activity could be there but not as severe as we faced over the last year. Many like Dr Bharat Barai of Indiana and Deepakkant Vyas of St Louis sounded a bit different
Dr Barai exuded confidence that vaccine could be found by December and that the economy would bounce back by middle of the coming year, Deepakkant Vyas said that we should, with a positive approach face this deeming it as a Challenge and Opportunity, to change rather than feel depressed and holding a bleak outlook. Dr Kiran Patel, Anil Shah and others pitched for practical measures while Iftekhar Shareef and Sunil Shah and Dr Meshri felt either the impact would be short-lived or, it has also taught some new lessons. Mafat Patel lamented severe impact on hospitality and travel industries
We have detailed here below the views of our esteemed leaders and readers for a purview. In the meantime, let the coming New Year augur well for all of us and bring the cheer and joy that we have been missing for most of last year.
DR BHARAT BARAI, a former FIA President and a prominent Oncologist from Indiana, exuded huge optimism saying that a vaccine for this deadly disease with be found soon, by December end, and its massive application should help arrest the spread and also many affected to recover soon. This in its turn should result in a bounce back of the economy.
He specifically mentioned that two front ranking pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have nearly finished their third-phase of testing the anti-virus vaccines on thousands of people. The study is now on to weigh if there are any side effects. By December it would be clear and they would be in a position to come out with likely positive outcome, pitching FDA for an emergency approval too. In fact, Indiana State Medical Board has already urged local hospitals to get prepared for the use of anti-Corona vaccines, he indicated in a talk.
If all goes well Dr Barai felt there should be normalcy in social and economic spheres. It is in this context, he felt that by middle of the year, we canbreathe a sigh of relief and await return of happiness.
DR KIRAN PATEL a front ranking businessman cum community activist in Florida said the economic performance will depend on multiple factors and not just Corona Pandemic and hence, it is difficult to make a studied prediction.
The most important factors to me are finding a Vaccine and secondly getting effective treatment ensured: If success is made on these two areas, a V shaped bounce is definitely possible (if we exclude politicization).
Second is the Government response during possible resurgence and assumption no vaccine is available. In my opinion a total/Partial shutdown is a disaster and need to be kept aside as far as possible.
OPTIONS: My personal opinion is that a prudent approach is to protect:
- A) The elderly, B) Immuno-compromised individuals, C) High risk (Diabetes/lung disorders/ hypertension etc.) This way 80-90% of population can lead a normal life.
A PRAGMATIC APPROACH – Currently 230,000 people have died. Question that is hard to answer is how many of these would have died from natural and other causes like old age/ other comorbidity factors/ influenza/ auto accidents etc.
So to protect 0.5% population should the other 99.5% suffer. The socio-economic damage, the generation’s education gap etc. will be far greater. Although this is harsh reality the political correctness prevents us from making such difficult decisions.
SUNIL SHAH, Founder President FIA, said this deadly coronavirus emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and then spread to about 210 countries infecting 45+ million & with death heavy toll of human life.
While voluntary social distancing and lock down that followed led to a severe economic downturn. The demand shock resulting from quarantine, unemployment, and business closures dealt a huge blow to consumer services. It reduced the capacity to produce goods and services.
Millions have lost jobs in USA. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic shutdown created a crisis for all workers, but the impact was greater on women, non-white workers, lower wage earners and those with less education. The COVID-19 crisis also led to dramatic swing in household spending and retail sales.
In addition to consumer spending, the COVID-19 CRISIS has damaged the nation’s industrial production – output in the manufacturing, mining, and utility sectors.
Bereavement, isolation, loss of income, and fear are triggering mental complications, such as delirium, agitation and stroke. Those with pre-existing mental, neurological, heart etc. may stand a higher risk of severe outcomes and even death.
But there is a silver lining amidst all the negative outcomes, people have started realizing family values, begun to take care of their health and personal hygiene, started appreciating the importance of prudent financial planning and life insurance for their loved ones.
DR DEEPAKKANT VYAS, a front ranking businessman in St Louis and a community activist said it is up to a person how to view or take the prevalent Corona pandemic to understand the reality and move forward with a program that will help it overcome the problems in the near and the distant future.
It should be taken as a challenge for innovation and changing the structure of functioning and the use of technology to suit the changed circumstances. The traditional or the old ways might not work and the companies that adapt themselves to this new challenge would not only survive but prosper in the long run. It is equally important to have enough cash reserve to tide over the short-term financial problems. The management that has taken this factor into consideration could make a headway while others who have lacked this could falter.
Let us take that this is not going to be over soon but so long as it lasts we need to face it without dwelling in the past or thinking of bleak future. Amen.
IFTEKHAR SHAREEF, a prominent community leader and a former president FIA, said the festival of lights – Diwali,will bring better days ahead. Even as nations around the world fight a recent rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. Responses to one of the latest surveys – McKinsey Global Survey- on economic sentiment indicate that executives’ views have largely held steady from September.
The Outlooks on the economy front and industry at large, the prospects have remained more positive than negative, though optimism on the global economy has tempered. The share of respondents expecting global conditions to improve has decreased to 51 percent. But the share predicting that conditions will stay the same has increased since September, while the share expecting worsening conditions, which remains at the lowest level since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic in March, has not changed.
A majority of respondents (57 percent) also expect the global growth rate to increase over the next six months, as was the case in September. Overall, expectations about executives’ national economies remain in line with the September results, with 55 percent saying they expect improvement in the next six months.
Outlooks continue to brighten in all but two regions. One of these is Greater China, where positive sentiments are still more common than in any other region. The second region where outlooks have moderated is Europe. It has become the only region in which respondents are more likely to expect their countries’ economic conditions to decline than to improve. India is still lagging behind in improvement of economy, October has shown improvement in stock market of India, but in general India being dependent 70% on agriculture productions. With Mother Nature this rainy season has given 200% rains, all the water bodies are full, which will translate to an increase in agricultural production even going into year 2021-2022.
ANIL SHAH, community activist and President World Money Exchange – 2020 proved one of the worst years in recent history for economy but fears are entertained that may 2021 and following few years may be worse if remedial measures are not taken or not on the anvil.
Corona Virus has its effects all the way regardless any types of business except medical or related areas. It is a general belief that the way everything is going, the government too will run out of money. How long the government can help? They need to create more awareness of Corona and its impact at large and undertake measures like distributing Facemasks, social distancing and periodic lock down besides giving food but not money.
If coronavirus spreads by air, mouth and nose, it is important to find spray that kills germs and stops its spread. Vaccine is alternative that would help killing germs from body inside but we need to kill them from outside too.
No one has any clear cut policy, everyone makes own rules – I mean City, County, State and Federal authorities. They all need work in unison and initiate measures as to how to re-start economy and not to close economy. It is also advisable to lift ban on international travel. It is important to work with positive mind not with negative mind, which impairs brain taking right decision.
THAKAR BASATI a businessman and a Sikh community activist said “Yes it will affect not just coming year, but many more years to come. There are people, who lost loved ones. That gap will never be filled. It was also that people couldn’t hold hand during the last days. Some died in total isolation. Many were not able to say final good-bye and this will be a burden on their soul. Many didn’t get proper closing on their final exit.
Many may not have been able to transfer their last will, papers, land etc., so now they have to go through many legal hurdles to get it transferred. So many important functions have been postponed or people had to cut down on invitees. People will remember how it affected their individual and family programs.
This Pandemic has also affected education in a big way. Students had to learn to adjust to remote learning, while some had no access to internet. Many school functions had to be cancelled, as well as many sports events.
It affected everyone economically. Some may never recover from this impact. People lost businesses and again some may never recover. Some Governments helped, but and many got nothing. It is not over yet; Covid19 is still here and who knows how long its effects will be felt on health and wealth. Vaccine is not here and we don’t know how effective it will be, what negative affects it will have. It has also brought divisions in community.
May God help all.
CHANDRAKANT PATEL, a banker ad a community activist from Texas said that COVID-19 impacted almost all sectors of Economy in 2020. In particular, the effect on Hospitality Industry in which many Indians are invested, was very severe.
All hotels with prestigious flags like Marriott Hilton and other flags in that category, was and is the highest. Whereas lower flags like Motel-6 and other in that category, the impact has been minimum. All of service industry, food & beverage as well as Airline industry took a big hit. Some of them had to shut down.
Fortunately, Federal Reserve and the Government sponsored stimulus package came to help and minimized the damage. Now the stimulus money is exhausted and the politics has prevented the congress to approve the second stimulus package. So, the victim are the people of USA for no fault of their’s.
Going into 2021, we still face more issues due to Presidential Election, which may further delay passing of second stimulus package (as of writing this). But these are all temporary solutions. The real solution is the eradication of the virus. This is going to take time. But in mean while, approval of one or more vaccines will bring the situation to normal to some extent. This will restart the industries that have been almost shut down.
Fortunately, all the problems created by Covid19 are temporary. Once we defeat the invisible Covid19, we will recover fully and quickly.
DR DAYAL MESHRI, the President/CEO of Advance Research Chemicals observed that although the Coronavirus had a big impact on economy, moral strength, and routine of our daily life, but it will be a temporary, short lived problem. During this short period however, our daily routine work, and our life style has changed. It has made us more careful, responsible to do routine work under the abnormal circumstance. Eventually we will be more dependent on machines& more automation, less social contacts and this in its turn, will bring psychological changes.
Loss of loved one and financial impact are causing fear and insecurity even now. Like Tsunami, so it is now TSUNAMI of health & economy but as it happened with Tsunami, beaches, streets got cleaned up and we went back to normal life. This health Tsunami will also will take its toll and go away. However, some businesses will be wiped out and the new ones will come. The philosophy of normal life will undergo a change. Hopefully vaccines will be coming to the market soon. The survivors will remember as our generation reads about the past disasters like Plague casualties, loss of life, money, fear and social isolation all happened but life moved on.
Our generation with modern tools will rebuild all around. So this is all temporary. So is our life! Help us the Lord.
ACHARYA JATIN PATEL, a front ranking astrologer in Chicagoland feels that astrological reading is that the coronavirus will continue thru 2021 with all its adverse impact on the economy.
Astrological speaking the outlook is bleak. Lets hope and pray things change sooner. In 2021 planet Jupiter is weak causing many times problems to diabetic patients, priests, doctors, patients who have liver disease. Many planets don’t indicate positive outlook for 2021 either.
On realistic and practical level, the big problem is many people out of work without any sustainable aid from the government. There will be 2.5 million families facing evictions from home. The lack of cash flow would ultimately cause and result in shutting down of businesses.
The travel industry followed by hospitality, restaurants and real estate would be the worst off. The commercial real estate where tenants shutter down business would hurt owners who can’t pay mortgage. Many commercial office buildings are empty.
The companies getting workers or employees working from home find some way to pull on. It is a win-win situation for both of them but commercial real estate seems doomed. Hotel industry needs capital to keep doors open. Lack of adequate number or no customers can only dip into savings but the question is how long.
Again astrologically don’t expect major changes for at least next summer. Hope, however, rests on either vaccine is found or, the people at large change behavior.
MAFAT PATEL, a leading businessman often described as Uncrowned King of Devon Ave, said that he was hopeful that the Corona virus, which has played havoc with economic and social life the world over, would not be a threat to live with by the end of 2021. He was optimistic that a vaccine would be found sooner than later, and this will help the mass of people to get over this deadly virus
The virus has wrought misery with almost all the businesses but the hospitality and the travel industries are among the worst affected. It will take time to get normal for these lines of business activities but they would eventually get normalcy as both are essential for the well being of community at large.
To assert that the problem would be over during specified time period would be just living in our own world.The virus is there as was the case with Plague and Spanish flue decades ago. The immunity system that is inbuilt for the human race or for that matter animal world, would assert itself. Hopefully soon.
NIMISH JANI, a community activist and Trustee Schaumburg Township observed that the coronavirus will likely be with us for many years to come, We need to learn to protect the vulnerable and the elderly citizens among usand we need to keep our economy growing allowing the United States to thrive.
This means we need to quickly find a vaccine, and additional therapeutics. This will allow all American citizens to understand that eventually the coronavirus will be no more threatening than influenza(flu).
SALIL MISHRA, a noted Banker in Chicagoland, said that the world has never seen a pandemic of such magnitude in the last 100 years and was totally unprepared for the devastation it would wrought on human health and global economy.
Its destructive impact paralyzed almost all industries: aviation, recreation, hospitality, restaurant, entertainment, sports and forced closure of theatres, sports arenas, schools and colleges throughout the globe. Major economies including the US had to shut down their economies to tackle the gargantuan human health crisis. On the brighter side everyone understands this as a health issue and not an economic doomsday scenario.
Despite the slowdown current global economy is fundamentally strong. Respective governments are infusing stimulus money to the monetary system to head off the crisis. The good news is a vaccine is round the corner and sooner than later it is going to be available to the general populace. At the time of writing Pfizer announced that its vaccine is 90% effective in its 3rd phase trial. Therefore the next 6-months are going to be the most critical time for the people and the economy. I think the economy is heading for a tremendous rebound around March-April next year and take it to its former glory and might as well surpass it by leaps and bounds!
SOHAN JOSHI, a former head of the National Federation of Indian Association and a community leader, said that Coronavirus impacting adversely everywhere in the world and affecting the human activities all around- economic and non economic – is not going to go away in the next couple of years. We have to accept the reality and look forward to see how best we can do to stay healthy and safe.
It is reported that many parts of India are worst affected losing loved ones. In this country too many have lost their lives or lost loved ones and this is hugely regrettable. My fear is that the coming year could prove worse than the current one. The economy is impacted adversely with many losing jobs and businesses downing shutters. More people have gone below the poverty line and looking for help from any source, including the government.
Unfortunately as it could seem but there are loan sharks. This new crop of sharks lure people to get the loans at a heavy fee and could be in a position to get them loan too, which in the long run would not be repaid. Borrowers and the loan sharks know that. The modus operandi is to set up corporations so that the individuals could be safe and it is the corporations, which go under water. The ultimate loser will be financial institutions.
DR SUDHIR BRAHMBHAT, Founder President of the Technology Services observed that while Coronavirus, a Biowar, will be remembered in the history for its global impact that is taking significant number of human lives in the world without any guns, its ramifications have been swift and indiscriminate, people living in poverty have been disproportionately impacted by the deadly disease. By some estimates, the economic fallout from the pandemic could push as many as half a billion people of the world into extreme poverty, putting decades of progress in emerging economies at risk. Understandably, global efforts have focused largely on providing short-term relief in the form of healthcare and economic aid, but it’s equally important to help emerging economies build a strong economic foundation that fortifies their resiliency in good times and bad.
Instead, the most viable way to help economies become prosperous and build long-term resiliency is through investment in a specific type of innovation that more deeply sows the seeds of widespread opportunity. Market-creating innovations transform complicated and expensive products into products that are simple and affordable, making them accessible to a whole new segment of people—known as non-consumers—for whom there was always underlying demand, but no accessible solution. Equally important, the successful markets trigger an entrepreneurial culture that leads to more innovation—and by extension, development. It turns out that many of today’s prosperous countries such as Japan and Korea escaped poverty and weathered economic shocks by prioritizing market-creating innovations. Japan, for instance, was in dire economic straits after World War-II but ultimately became one of the world’s wealthiest countries thanks to local innovators including Canon, Panasonic, Sony, and Toyota.
Today’s innovators have a similar opportunity to create new growth engines for their organizations and the countries that have been most devastated by the pandemic. While successful market-creation has traditionally been attributed to luck, predictable roadmap can be:
- Discover market-creating opportunities; Identify barriers to consumption; Look for workarounds to common problems; Innovators can unlock the oceans of demand found in non-consumption.
- Estimate the market for non-consumption; there is enormous untapped potential when innovators come up with affordable and accessible solutions to everyday struggles.
- Develop a new value network. To profitably serve non-consumers, rethink which upstream suppliers, downstream channels to market, and ancillary providers enable a cost structure that keeps non-consumers’ needs in mind. Whether it comes in the form of a global pandemic, a natural disaster, or a real estate bubble, periodic economic crises are inevitable, and they will always hit poor countries the hardest. However, when countries become prosperous, their ability to withstand and bounce back from a crisis is significantly strengthened. For many emerging economies, investing in market-creating innovations is the critical missing piece in the prosperity puzzle.
Be safe and participate in recovering from the current pandemic situation.