India has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The nationwide lockdown imposed during April and May 2020 had an adverse impact on the manufacturing, construction, mining, trade, tourism and transportation industries. This led to the contraction of the quarterly GDP by 23.9 percent in the April-June quarter of 2020. To counter the adverse economic impact, the government offered fiscal stimulus packages equivalent to almost 15 percent of national GDP. Given the strain on the government, the fiscal deficit for 2020-21 is expected to reach a massive figure of 9 percent.
In this book, ‘Annual Competitiveness Analysis and Gendered Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Unemployment in the Sub-National Economies of India’, we undertake a comprehensive competitiveness analysis of the 36 sub-national economies of India.
- Maharashtra has been the most competitive sub-national economy over the years. Despite ranking first, Maharashtra still has scope for improvement across the dimensions of productivity, standard of living and technological infrastructure.
- Jharkhand has been the bottom-most sub-national economy for the last four years due to its weak performance across several spheres, the main ones being economic growth, employment, and standard of living.
- The Western region is the most business-friendly and attracts the largest number of investors. It is the most open to trade, export of merchandise goods and direct foreign investment, but lags in terms of providing adequate health infrastructure.
- The North-eastern region performs well in terms of medical infrastructure and has high expenditure on education, science, and technology. However, the lack of physical infrastructure has limited the presence of private and public limited companies and subsequently limited the economic growth of the region.
We have also incorporated a case study on West Bengal, which focuses on its technological potential, given the strong push by the Government of West Bengal to be one of the leading sub-national economies in India in information technology (IT) and related sectors. Our simulation exercise suggests that an improvement in the existing technological infrastructure can lead to a drastic improvement in West Bengal’s competitiveness.
Gendered Impact Assessment
Our novel contribution in this book is the gendered impact assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic on sub-national unemployment in India, given that gender imbalances in India’s unemployment existed even prior the pandemic. The unemployment gender gap narrowed during the national lockdown period as men were found to have lost more jobs in absolute terms than women. The recovery of the Indian economy during the post-lockdown period supported male jobs rather than female jobs. It is yet to be seen whether the sub-national governments’ initiatives to support the pandemic recovery would help to prevent the unemployment gender gap from further deteriorating.