Covid-19 and Southasia

Written by Abdul Muqeet Malik

Over 9000 people have died in South Asia ever since COVID-19 hit this region. The number of confirmed cases in South Asia is over 390,000. Countries in South Asia are Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives. India and Pakistan are the two most affected countries in this region. The number of COVID-19 cases are increasing every day. Therefore, the situation could be more dangerous in the coming days.  

  • Bhutan, Srilanka, Nepal, and the Maldives are the least most affected countries by COVID-19 in South Asia. Confirmed cases are over 1000, and deaths are over 20. 
  • Bangladesh and Afghanistan are moderately affected countries by COVID-19. Confirmed cases are over 75,000 and deaths are over 1000. 
  • India and Pakistan are the two most affected countries in the southasian subcontinent. Confirmed cases are over 400,000 and deaths are over 10,000. 

Economic Impact of COVID-19 on South Asia 

Economically South Asia is in the worst situation during the last 40 years. Regional growth was estimated 6.3 percent six months ago however, it will fall to a range between 1.8 to 2.8 percent. Economically the Maldives is the most affected in South Asia. The decline in the Maldives economy could be up to 8.5 percent this year. Growth of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan could fall to a negative percentage this year. Therefore, it is time to talk about the economic situation of each South Asian country. 

  1. India

The Indian economy is in a disruptive situation because coronavirus has spread all over the country. Many people are unemployed because many companies temporarily suspended their businesses during the situation of COVID-19. Fast-moving consumer goods companies have reduced operations in India. They are just focusing on essential measures. 

A $4.5 billion USD loss was estimated for the Indian economy in the first month of the lockdown. Daily and monthly wagers are directly affected in the lockdown therefore unemployment has increased from 6.7 percent to 22.4 percent, since 4th June, 2020. 1,40,00,000 people lost their employment in lockdown because people are not allowed to go outside therefore a 40% decrease in the GDP growth is estimated until 2021. 

The COVID-19 relief package has been announced by every government in the Southasian subcontinent. The Government of India announced $260 billion relief package to rescue its people during this uncertain situation and also give incentives and tax deadline extensions to its states. The good thing is the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank approved financial support to cover the economic loss of India. 

  1. Pakistan

The economy of Pakistan is declining during this pandemic situation of COVID-19. The economy of Pakistan has projected loss in GDP growth due to decrease in trade, a decline in foreign direct investment (FDI), anremittances. Industries like aviation and transport are not allowed to open services for the public and the situation of food chain management is disturbed due to lockdown imposed by the government.  

According to the world bank and state bank of Pakistan, the economy is going to suffer a negative growth, between -1 percent and -1.5 percent. The World Bank and UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) estimated 1.9 percent growth rate in the next Fiscal Year ending on 30 June 2021. COVID-19 is having an effect on unemployment in the whole of SouthasiaDuring this pandemic situation, the Ministry of Planning estimates that 12.3 million to 18.5 million Pakistanis will lose their jobs. 

For this purpose, the government of Pakistan launched 1200 billion rupees relief package for the people to improve their standard of livingThe government delivered Rs. 12,000 per family from the low-income groups. The government of Pakistan also launched the emergency cash payment program to the needy ones under “Ehsas Program.” However, the effect of coronavirus is ultimately dependent on how the government of Pakistan takes steps to tackle the situation effectively. 

  1. Bangladesh

The number of COVID-19 cases in Bangladesh is over 57000 therefore, Bangladesh is forced to live in the lockdown to minimize its effectsThe lockdown is having a paralyzed effect on the daily workers and businesses across the country. Developing countries like Bangladesh are under the huge economic pressure of oil-producing countries because oil prices became very low due to a decrease in its demand all over the world. 

The Poverty rate in Bangladesh may rise to 40 percent if 25 million families fall short of their income. The government of Bangladesh also announced the incentive packages to compensate for the financial loss of its people. On the 24th of March 2020, the prime minister initially approved 600 million in relief packages and on the 4th of April 2020, it was increased to $ 8.5 Billion by the government. 

Other Affected Countries of South Asia: 

Other countries of South Asia like Nepal, Bhutan, Srilanka, and the Maldives are not that much affected in terms of confirmed cases and deaths of the people. The total numbers of confirmed cases are over 24,374 and 328 people have died and that is why the tourism, aviation and transport industries are the most affected in South Asia. Oil prices are reducing in every country because oil markets have crashed but the world still has more fuel for usage. 

It is also observed that the economic recovery from this fatal pandemic is only possible by 2021 as vaccines are being tried from various countries. It has left a severe impact on the economies of South Asia as well as on the global economy and it is confirmed that countries will face multiple difficulties to bring back their economic stability. However, every government will take some effective measure to minimize the effects of this pandemic and hopefully, as usual the human race will defeat this virus that begun in Asia.