A huge debate has erupted over what constitutes essentials. Is it even worth a discussion? Focus must be on the economy
With non-essential goods being banned for delivery by e-commerce companies, thanks to a Government order, people are wondering what constitutes to be essential. While working from home (WFH) seems to be a good idea during the lockdown period, not everyone, who has been asked to work within this structure, has the requisite set-up to be able to do so. Maybe someone needs a better laptop or a work table or other electronic equipment like a microphone/earphone or even a dongle for data connectivity. What about a chair? Or glasses? Possibly even air conditioners and washing machines? While certain commodities like clothes have rightly been banned for delivery, it is plainly ridiculous that a bureaucrat sits in an office and determines what is essential and what is not. While the Government might think it is protecting physical stores, the inability to get certain goods delivered is actually harming the economy rather than helping it. This is not just because people need those items urgently to work, online delivery services are the best way to ensure physical distancing. The fact is that we live in times when reduced human interaction is a positive thing. Thus, having goods delivered with minimal interaction is welcome. Surely, no State Government wants thousands of delivery boys to run up and down the city. But if we are to get the consumer economy going once again, with factories open and employees inside producing things, we need to get demand going. And for that, the Government must restart the delivery of all such services forthwith. The number of delivery personnel can be limited and this has already been done. This can encourage or even mandate that e-commerce companies work with some physical retail stores for products. Most sites have a vibrant seller community, this should not be a problem. Moreover, this would be a lot better than thousands of people crowding markets the day the lockdown lifts.
There is no doubt now that the lockdown will not end very soon. While some cities and districts might open up sooner than others, even the most optimistic of people know that a full “return to normalcy” might not happen before the end of the year. But if we are to return to normal, the work towards that has to start now. To make sure this happens, the Government has to start allowing more products to be delivered and not look at e-commerce as a bad thing. This needless debate about what constitutes “essential” and what doesn’t has to end.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)