IOS Online Lecture on Covid-19 Pandemic and Economy in India– Challenges and Opportunities

IOS Online Lecture on Covid-19 Pandemic and Economy in India– Challenges and Opportunities 

New Delhi: An online lecture on ‘Covid-19 Pandemic and Economy in India –Challenges and Opportunities’ was organized by the Institute of Objective Studies on November 27, 2021.

The lecture was delivered by the head, Community Development Programme of International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), USA, Mamoon Al-Azami. Presided over by the ex-professor of Economics, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), Prof. Naushad Ali Azad, the proceedings of the lecture were conducted by the assistant secretary general, IOS, Prof. Haseena Hashia. The lecture formally began with the recitation of a Qur’anic verse by Hafiz Athar Husain Nadwi.

Introducing the topic, Prof. Haseena Hashia said that Covid-19 caused havoc to the economy of India, causing unprecedented real losses never witnessed before, even during wars. The pandemic brought to the fore the challenges to India in the form of an unprecedented increase in the level of poverty, huge losses of jobs, businesses, international trade, supply chain disruptions, near collapse of international travel, tourism and related hospitality. She noted that the lecture was a practical macro-micro examination of the issues with a clear hope for the future of the Indian economy. While the 2.9 trillion dollar economy of the country was affected, about 7 per cent contracted in March 2021 alone, she added.

In his lecture, Mamoon al-Azami held that the Qur’an and Hadith were to guide the community. There were as many as 70 different kinds of trials that could be tackled as per the guidance of the Qur’an and Hadith. These trials differ from man to man. He said that Allah does not like a man to waste wealth, nor does He ask many unnecessary questions or spread gossip; wasting of food was also prohibited. Allah says that money should be spent on others who are pauperized, poor, and needy. Referring to the economic impact of Covid-19, he said that without equity, one could not end the pandemic, HIV, or any other epidemic. This was also supported by Peter Alexander, a British banker and the executive director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Available figures suggested that during the pandemic, the retail giant, Amazon, earned millions of dollars as profit. This was a positive effect of Covid-19. But negatively, it also infected 219 plus million people, out of which about 4.5 million people died globally. Similarly, the stock market was drastically cut by 20 per cent. Commenting on the Indian economic impact, he said that the country’s economy was weakening when the pandemic struck. As far as the public expenditure was concerned, it was 132 per cent, 16 per cent lower than the year 2008. Farmers lost big to local supply chain shut down. Milk demand dropped by 25 per cent, and its prices were cut by 19 per cent. He held that India was the fifth largest economy that could affect the world. According to an assessment made by the International Monetary Fund, indifferent output in India made sluggish global growth. This was also significant to note that India provided 70 per cent vaccines to fight Covid-19, he noted.

Focusing on crisis management during the pandemic, Azami suggested strategies. In order to overcome the negative effects of Covid-19, one should remain penitent, be insulated and do the teamwork. Besides, he should migrate if need be and prevent negative impulses and confront challenges. He must also entertain hopes and plan ahead. Here, he referred to the Hijrah route of the Prophet (PBUH). By being positive, one could find his brother with hope. Suggesting strategies for crisis management, he said that faith and trust in Allah was the core foundation of such strategies. Patience and perseverance in efforts were also vital to manage the crisis. He said that spirituality and integrity with the task were also equally important. Referring to economic and counter measures in Islam, he said that for poverty alleviation, the institution of Zakat was engaging the attention of ulema and imams to make it more effective. He asked for building partnership with UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), which supported Zakat institutions. He also called for practicing basic living needs like food, shelter, health, and education. Commenting on economic opportunities for India during the Covid-19 time, he said the country had one of the largest waqf properties in the world. These could generate income and support the poor to be self-reliant. India had some of the richest Muslim entrepreneurs with a heart to donate to the economically deprived and poor people. He suggested that the people should engage themselves in consultation, coordination, and cooperation.

Mamoon al-Azami pointed out that three levels of the action plan were needed to be put in place to effectively neutralize the adverse effect of Covid-19. The first was the personal action plan, which sought to care, concern, and commit to helping the poor for the sake of Allah’s pleasure and paradise. It was also aimed at sharing these feelings with others. The second level was the group action plan, which sought to find individuals who had an interest and wanted to be involved and contribute to initiatives to help the poor. Contacting family was another element of the plan.

He said that the third level was the community action plan. Under the community action plan, a steering group of committed and competent community/religious leaders was formed for undertaking community action. A complete list of mosques, madrasas, businesses, NGOs, organizations, colleges, etc., could be drawn up for coordinating the action plan. Besides, sheikhs, professors, key social and community leaders could be asked to play an active role in the task, he noted. Maintaining that 70 per cent of job losses were recorded in the unorganized sector in India, he said that these people needed to be economically engaged in skilled work. They could be helped with equipment and interest-free loan to start their work as carpenters or construction workers. Ways to support them on the ground should be found, he stressed.

Mamoon Al-Azami observed that basic skill training in handling equipment–software and hardware, should be imparted because these areas had much work. He said there was much work for women who were not educated. They had sewing and tailoring businesses at home. Cooking service, as seen in Bombay, could also be started to support the family. Women could give education to children because they were experts in counselling. They always gave good advice. Eighty per cent of counsellors in the United Kingdom were women, he concluded.

In his presidential remarks, Prof. Naushad Ali Azad said that the lecture was very informative and interesting. To top it all, the lecture was put in the Islamic framework. He held that the pandemic was a global phenomenon. This showed how the world had become globalized. Explaining it further, he said that an African variant of Covid-19 was feared to be found in the UK. It was feared that India could face the third wave of the pandemic.

Referring to the Islamic framework, he quoted Dr. Grave from the US, who said that the American Supreme Court saw the Prophet (PBUH) as one of the greatest lawgivers. He said that the pandemic badly affected the informal sector. A big population living in villages was also affected, but agriculture, being resilient, saved the economy and averted the ill-effects of the pandemic. The stock market was showing up as good as the UK after the pandemic weakened. He suggested that a comprehensive study of the effect of Covid-19 on Muslims and non-Muslims in India and elsewhere be made. He said that India was a big business market and offered much scope for working for the welfare of Muslims.

The lecture ended with Prof. Haseena Hashia proposing a vote of thanks to the attendees.


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