Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. Presently, he is teaching Mathematics at JCRE Global College. Jugeshwor can be reached at: [email protected] Or WhatsApp’s No: 9612891339.

Follow him

Wednesday, 02 September 2020 19:06

From Risk to Opportunity

Covid-19 has not only had an impact on the health of people at large, the economic damage that it has rendered and will continue render may be more damaging than the disease itself. For a 1.3 billion –people country, the virus-positive and death cases seemed too low to warrant a drastic action. The developed world finds this too good to be true. But people living in India can resonate with the truth as we have not heard of any hospitals getting overwhelmed or people dying unattended of fever or shortness of breath. India’s democratic social media won’t spare any such cases. Now with the lockdown, we reduce the risk to an even lower level ensuring high probability of normal life after three weeks. One idle month in life of an individual or nation cannot be devastating unless not handled well. Coincidentally, the crisis has come at a time when India’s economy was struggling in the midst of one of the worst slowdowns with gross domestic product growth at sub 5% per annum. In such a time, a lockdown in a country where 700 million people live at subsistence level (with very little savings to fend for their families for a month without income) will exacerbate the pains of slowing economy. India is between a rock and a hard place. The lockdown have not reduce the increase in Coronavirus spread and its economy has cratered.During the course of this pandemic, business continue to be significantly impacted, liquidity remains tight and so does the scale of operations. New strategic alliances or business partnership are dwindling during the period Covid-19, has certainly impacted the Indian’s economy to a great extent. The government is focusing on meeting hyper demand for essential items like health care infrastructure and facilities while non-essential items are seeing a steep decline. On top of that the restrictions on movement imposed by government for the purpose of containing the virus have forced many sectors to pull their shutters down. Even though the recovery of the underlying economy will be slow but now most sectors have accepted this to be the new normal. While the overall economy has taken a hit because of the government lockdown, some sectors have converted this threat into an opportunity and are set to see immense growth in the post Covid-19 era.
During the course of the pandemic people have started using digital medium for commitments, education and entertainment. Online platforms for work meetings have seen a massive rise in popularity. Meeting and video calling applications have come up with innovative features making it conducive for professionals to work from home. This has also facilitated Schools and Universities to start online education and assessment. The lockdown has restricted events that require a massive gathering of people like sports, music festivals, theatre, movies etc. resulting in these sectors taking a hit. Due to which, online platform for digital contents has become a huge hit with many movies and shows seeing digital release instead of theatrical release. Due to lockdown, this sector has really seen a boom time like never before.
Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and retail sectors has seen a growth in this tough time. With continue fear of complete lockdown, food-based retail chains and essential commodity providers have emerged as winners. Given the heightened need of health food and immunity –boosting products among consumers have further broadened the scope for the companies are revamping their growth strategies with a focus on providing a value proposition to consumers in existing categories launching new products in the food and health categories, enhancing the direct distribution reach in the rural market, door to door services etc. Which will help them to achieve the growth in the medium-term. By this, companies have been trying to broaden their product portfolio and reducing dependence on seasonal offerings. Leading brands like Dabur, Patanjali, Zandu and other organic brand have launched more products and variants in the health food segment. The lockdown and social distancing requirements has forced consumers’ behaviors to shift from eating outdoors to home –cooked food for or ready to eat items. Also, the deadly virus has led to the growing need for quality immunity building products like Chwanprash and immunity boosting health drinks. A number of these initiatives were already in the queue but as per the situations demanded these companies have taken the opportunity for the expansion and launched new products.
Increased need for cleansing and sanitation has catapulted the demand for hand sanitizers, disinfectants and surface cleaners. India’s largest Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies have rolled out a range of home cleaning disinfectants and personal hygiene products as they anticipate a surge in demand for such items and the Covid-19 crisis. Companies such as ITC Ltd and CavinKare have rolled out surface disinfectants. ITC has launched a Savlon-branded surface disinfectants spray, after a hand sanitizing liquid, Savlon Hexa. Also Marico Ltd announced to launch of “Veggie Clean”a fruit and vegetable wash. Also, increased demand for the disinfectants, drugs and medicines due to the pandemic, has given an opportunity to the organization manufacturing chemicals required for manufacturing these. Hence organization dealing in specialty Chemicals are expected to see spike in demand owing to increase demand for disinfectants, drugs and medicine by the customers.
Health care sector have faced hardships owing to the lockdown and all non-emergency treatments taking a back seat. But this sector shall see immense investment in the aftermath of the pandemic. The World would now realize that the threat of a pandemic is very real and investment in the sector to safeguard will be done in the near future. The rife spread of the virus has warranted people to take precautions to save themselves from this deadly disease. Demand for certain medical devices like Oximeters, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and mask have seen a rise as infected patients with mild symptoms under self-care and isolation need these basic devices for self-monitoring. The market to these specified sectors is expected to see growth owing to this pandemic. Some are converting this into an opportunity by changing their product mix. New brands are coming up with essential supplies like hand sanitizers and disinfectant cleaners. While these brands are taking advantage of this opportunity established brand that have built trust over the year are leading through the rat race.
The world has seen something like never before. The Covid-19 crisis has ultimately lead to an emergence of new FMCG products, a change in consumers behavior and a shift in the market’s focus on health protection and hygiene. In order to get the business and economy back on track, the companies are moving forward by taking the situation of the pandemic as an opportunity. Some are coming up with innovative ideas and resultantly getting the first mover advantage, whose impact will entertain a long-lasting impact on the market. For the survival of the business, growth plays a vital role and it depends on its internal and external environment. The internal environment is the strength and weakness of the business entity whereas the external environment lists all factors which affects the business and is the uncontrollable factors eventually budding them into opportunity.In fact, the current covid-19 crisis provide a window of opportunity for promoting sustainability transition across the globe.
The writer can be reached to:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020 09:18

The Role of Youth to ease-out Corona

We are all impacted by Covid-19, in one way or another, no matter where we are in the World and where in the age spectrum we sit. However some of us are at higher risk –for instance older people and people with severe underlying health conditions. Some of us are more impacted than others due to individual, community or geographical circumstances. The coronavirus, a pandemic has made us realize that we all are connected and this entire World is a family. Although connected, medical experts have suggested social distancing as one of the perfect solution to fight against the new evil. The one thing that surely must cut across all these levels is being overwhelmed with the constant influx of information and misinformation both on and offline. You see, hear, read one thing and before you have a second to grasp it, you are flooded by completely different set of information. I bet, we all are also experiencing multiple stage of panic, paramecia, fear, uncertainty and disbelief or even denial! “How could this happen “or “this could never happen to me”? It is happening to us, all of us and all of us together.  But mostly it’s compounding the already uncertain future that young people face today.

     Covid-19, now classified as a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO), a new disease for which people don’t have immunity to-is spreading around the World beyond expectations. However the crisis shouldn’t be call to panic, regardless of how tough that might be under the circumstances. There is a reason to organize ourselves better. Young people always ask, how can we change the World? How can we be part of what is going on in the World? What is the young people’s role in global challenges? Well, there is no time like now for young people to do what they do best: self-organize, self-mobilize and come together no-bars-held just like you have in the biggest crisis of all- climate change. Youth in India constitute about more than one-fourth of total population. They, as a responsible youth of this country should participate in this battle against the zoonotic disease. Come together in global solidarity. We all know distress happens, whether it be natural distress or global pandemics but usually they don’t hit so close to home for most of us and hence we successfully  “otherwise” them to another part of the world or to another community somewhere far away from us. But with the Covid-19s, ‘forest fire’, nature, it’s better to take preventive measures and be geared to respond immediately. Let’s understand the role of youths in this battle against Corona. To name some of them from the canvas of history- Lenin, the Russian youth had a major contribution to the Russian revolution. Likewise, Mazzini &Bhagat Singh also contributed their role for the country. This battle can be won by helping the government in this time of exigency instead of erecting barricades in nook & corner everywhere.

        Here are something you as a youth can do in this time of global solidarity. As a precursors to the pointers on what to do as a young person in times of the Covid-19 pandemic, the most important and urgent step is to be rational, to exercise calm and reason in all situations. Now this can be particularly tough in countries with a lockdown situations. This is when it is key to take heart in resilience as a community and opportunity to use social media as a tool for community therapy and communications with each other on a positive note of solidarity- as opposed to one of panic. We can spread the right awareness in our friends, family, XYZ etc, 24x7 WhatsApp’s group with the right information about the virus. WhatsApp’s/ social media group always have as much as traffic on our roads. To learn from social media solidarity over the climate crisis where movements sparked worldwide to support the cause and show young people’s resilience. Now, before a deep dive into specifically what you all can do, start by applying particularly and common sense and follow simple pointers to manage the Covid-19 and also come together as a resilient global community: (i) follow simple and routine WHO’s guidelines of properly wash your hands more often, avoid crowded space, avoid handshaking, if you are sick, wear a mask and seek medical attention immediately. (ii) Educate your families, friends and community by spreading community awareness online and offline (iii) Find opportunity to volunteer in your community, if there are older people or immunocompromised people, help them out. Help out vulnerable people in your community to pick up their groceries and medicine.(iv)Healthcare workers around the World are all called to work in high demand and they might need your help looking after their children or looking after their parents while they attend to life-saving works in clinics and hospitals around the World. (v) Find a reliable charity to donate. You can also support other campaigns such as “Stand together to beat Coronavirus”.(vi) Advocating free testing, reliable information, paid sick leave, investigates Science and universal health coverage. (vii) Hold your government accountability.

    Every religious activity has been on halt in lieu of Corona-virus outbreak, still we see any of the gathering around. It’s our responsibility to guide and report if required. The constitution of India, is the holy book for every Indian citizens and every –order must be accepted as a commandment. We live in a democratic country and we have every right to put our thoughts on the table but this is the time to unite and stand with our government. Admittedly, there is much blot about being tested positive for Covid-19 and facing quarantine for a couple of week(s). But “whatever gets measured gets managed”. If the positive cares are effectively measured, we shall be able to contain the outbreak effectively. So it’s our responsibility to spread the right kind of awareness within the family, society, acquaintances rather than wasting time on optional stuff. The outbreak of Corona-virus has also affected the mental health of humans as everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. So in this hour of stress/anxiety, let’s spread the right knowledge, right humors, and right videos and ensure them that we are going to win this battle. To understand better, it is not the Corona-virus which is dangerous but it is the quick spread which is a threat. We need young people’s leadership now more than ever. Most of all, in doing all of this; stay healthy and stay safe. Listen to health authorities, stay alert and keep a calm open mind. Stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more updated on how to stay on top of Covid-19 for well-being of your loved ones, your community and yourselves and inspirational stories of young people contributing to the global response. We can fight this together.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020 08:34

Conventional vs Organic Farming

Agriculture has been one of the biggest innovations in the human history, with the first domestication of food crops occurring over 10,000 years ago. This domestication of food allowed for communities to base themselves in one area, growing tending and harvesting foods to sustain larger populations. Simple manual agriculture dominated for the first 8,000 years- focusing on the sowing and harvesting of grain crops, husbandry of animals and planting orchards of nut and fruit trees. The next 2,000 years brought massive technology changes that moved from mostly manual labour (both human and animal labour) to the manufacture of farming implements that allowed larger areas to be farmed with less labour. Coupled with the sharing of foods crops around the world, this again boosted the ability of humans to farm and feed larger populations with agriculture. What started as the simple understanding of plant biology (that is the planting of seeds to grow a replica) grew into the most important and largest industry in the world as well as the fuel for massive population growth. Food were grown with what was naturally available and if modern standard were applied to ancient agriculture, it would most definitely be ORGANIC. The 1900s brought massive change that not only modified how humans produced food but also much food humans could produce.

      In the space of less than 150 years, humans discovered how to artificially create fertilizers as well as build machines that could do the work of many humans. There was revolutionary as it allowed for significant yield increases in labour. Interestingly one could easily correlated this change with the acceleration of human population, suddenly humans were able to produce more with less ,allowing massive growth in population ( from 1.5 Billion in 1900 to more than 7 Billion today). The 1940s brought what has been called “The Green Revolution”, which is the loose description given to the discovery of more artificial fertilisers and their distribution; creation of chemical herbicides and pesticides and genetic modification of plants and animals. This shifted food production into mass production that continues today. Driven by the artificial boosting of soil nutrients and application of poisons that reduced the impact of pests, genetic modification of plants has led to plants producing more yield than they would naturally produce and insertion of other animal and plant genomes to modify the properties of the plant. Again the boom of food production in this time could be linked with the increase in human population.

    “The Green Revolution “brought more food to the World and with it brought huge volumes of artificial inputs to agriculture. In Australia alone, there is approximately 1.7 million tonnes of artificial fertilisers applied to farming (which has increased from 0.7 million tonnes in 1983).Pesticides use in Australia has also grown rapidly with over 5,000 tonnes of herbicides. 5,000 tonnes of insecticides and 3,000 tonnes of fungicides sprayed every year and growing rapidly. This awareness and the toxicity of many of these inputs has led to the (re)emergence of organic agriculture combines modern agriculture method with natural inputs and pests management. There has been a focus in the past twenty years plus on the food we eat and how it is grown. Many people are asking questions about the inputs that are applied to their foods and the impact that it could be having on the earth as well as their bodies. 1987 saw the emergence of Biological farmers of Australia, a group of farmers who advocated and championed the natural farming approach that work with nature rather than against. They championed and adopted farming technique that now form organic certification, a process that is incredibly stringent and bound by consumer Law.

       Organic agriculture is a production system that regenerates the health of soils, ecosystem and people. Organic farmers rely on natural processes, biodiversity and cycles adopted to local conditions rather than the use of synthetic inputs like chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides. GMOs are not allowed in organic. On the other hand conventional farming is that relies on chemical intervention to fight pests and weeds and provide plant nutrition i.e synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. Organic farming relies on natural principles like biodiversity and composting instead to produce healthy, abundant food. Importantly, “Organic production “is not simply the avoidance of conventional inputs, nor is it the substitution of natural inputs for synthetic ones. Organic farmers apply techniques first used thousands of years ago, such as crop rotations and use of composed animal manures and green manures crops, in ways that are economically sustainable in today’s world. In organic production, overall system health is emphasized and the interaction of primary concern. Organic producers implement a wide range of strategies to develop and maintain biological diversity and replenish soil. Conventional and organic farming methods have different consequences on environment and people. Conventional agriculture causes increased greenhouse gas emission, soil erosion, water pollution and threatens human health. Organic farming has a smaller carbon footprint, conserves and builds soil health, replenishes natural ecosystem for cleaner water and air without toxic pesticideresidues;more profitable,yeilds equal or surpass& crops are more resilient thanconventional oneand create  more jobs.So Organic farming is the sole alternative for our clean and sustainable future.

Wednesday, 05 August 2020 18:14

Rural Unemployment & Agriculture

India, essentially is a rural nation where agriculture, horticulture, handicraft, fisheries, poultry and dairy are the major contribution to the rural economy.Yet the contributions of agriculture has been dwindling, creating a space for inequities.Here, unemployment is mainly due to the shortage of capital, the poor exploitation of natural resources and inadequate employment opportunities.The main issue lies in the character of the job as agriculture is dependent upon the benevolence of nature.It is the rain that makes the sector thrive and unfortunately India has rains last for only 3-4 months.In addition,it is a labour - intensive job, whereas in the present era,no one prefers to toil throughout the year. Naturally,there has been a major shift in dependency on agriculture as their main source of income.From 60%,it is constantly reducing owing to problems like price fluctuations, draught,flood, pest and diseases outbreak etc,which brings uncertainty income. Agriculture in Indian context is a seasonal occupation and there is always a heavy demand for labour at the time of sowing, wedding and harvesting whereas in slack season demand for labour falls considerably.In rained agriculture, farmersremain unemployed for four to six months in a year.Because of illiteracy, poverty and poor health,they are unable to avail some alternative employment opportunity during this period.India should urgently look at comprehensive reforms to make agriculture a sustainable and scalable industry. Where does India’s agriculture stand now? The country has made big stride in agriculture post liberalization, the yield has increased and is the third largest producer by value. However the sector realize only 50 to 60% of its potential. Price realization is affected by the APMC(Agricultural Produce Market Committee)Act and middlemen. In rural India, sowing season is nearing end. The rural unemployment rate climbed to 7.1% in the week ended 19 July 2020 to 6.34% recorded in the previous week, according to fresh data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).This is still below the figure for the week before India went to lockdown on 25th March but economists feel it will see a gradual climb in the coming weeks and July may not see job creation picking up much. Overall national unemployment also inched up to 7.94% in the week ended 19 July from 7.44%, the previous week.
However urban employment remains the bigger concern, as it continues to stay high and its decline has been slower. The urban joblessness rate come down marginally to 9.78% from 9.92% during the same period, according to CMIE, reflecting the stubborn formal sector jobs space that is directly influenced by the existing business environment, which is improving very slowly.Economists and experts said, labor market will see tougher challenge over the next couple of months both in the rural areas and urban pockets. Monsoon is expected to pick up in parts of India bringing along with it natural calamities such as floods, which will restrict activities in the agriculture sector and partially limit low-end self-employment activities. India’s rural unemployment rate has started moving upward with the summer crop sowing season drawing to an end. Except for few crops (rice, wheat) and a few states ( Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh) the selling price for the farmers is 15-50% below Minimum Support Price(MSP).The sowing season is nearing completion and strain in the rural labor market will be visible in the coming weeks. How can farming be made a sustainable occupation? The agriculture sector employs over 52% of the workforce contributing to only 14% of the GDP. Incomes have been stagnant over the last decades with the average worker earning less than 60-70% of the income of their counterparts in the city. As in urban areas witnessing sporadic lockdown to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, the slow reopening of business will limit the faster recovery that the country saw in June. With labor moving to rural India and depressed consumer demand income could drop about 10-20%. Agriculture and food processing GDP contribution has to rise to close to 20% while surplus labor needs to be deployed in manufacturing and food processing.However the country’s food processing value addition at the moment is less than 10% of the produce while for most developed economies there is 100 to 300%. The sector needs to grow at 5% per annum which is double the historical growth.
How do we ensure adequate remuneration for farmers? Increasing remuneration via MSP has drawbacks. It couldn’t be enforced beyond three states and it triggered food inflation and macroeconomic instability. The center and states must devise a strategy for the growth of non-farm sector in rural India which can help absorb people in decent jobs. The slow recovery of business and urge tomeet cost by employers for survival has a direct impact on rural employment. Farmers with a good land holding are doing fine but people who don’t have enough land or workplace as daily wagers are in real trouble. The lack of cash in hand is a problem and this will prompt people to go back to urban areas again despite the bad living condition there. This is where non-farm activities and white color jobs in regional level will be of help. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is helpful but may not be able to take pressure off and absorb all the people during the rainy season, who were earlier largely deployed in agricultural activities.CMIE data shows that rural employment scenario is much better in recent weeks but “we must take note that a higher labor force participation “rate in agriculture means, only a marginal growth in productivity of labor. Immediate income growth is not there. There are other ways: increased price realization for the farmers so that they get most of the consumer surplus and use of technology and supply aggregation platforms for storage, logistics and better price discovery. There is potential to create a segment of processed and branded food to increase farmers’ income. The country should follow a five point agenda reforms: focus on sustainable yield improvements through scientific farming practices; improve agricultural marketing to increase farmer’s price realization through policy changes; set up an Integrated Agriculture Export Mission to scale up food processing and exports to increase value addition from 10% to 50%; promote direct marketing through farmer producer Organization; and seriously work on reforms in the agriculture sector.

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.