The welcome to the new year was wishfully cheerful, riding more on hope than on evidence. The economic data that is coming out is still mixed, yet hopeful. But to have survived 2020 is itself a cause for celebration. Disease, death, economic destruction and yet resilience, fortitude and determination is how most people experienced the last year. Most of the country, for much of 2020, was in lockdown mode, which was progressively diluted.
The lockdown is still operative in many States. It has affected jobs, income and livelihoods, especially in the informal sector. The plight of the urban migrant workers in the country is now well known, and was even mentioned by the Prime Minister in his radio address. The rural economy turned out to be their saviour. The adverse economic impact on small and medium businesses has been severe. The exact detailed economic picture of India’s vast informal sector becomes clear only with a lag.