May 18, 2020 - For India’s $200-billion IT industry, what does a post-lockdown future look like?

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Azim Premji: The interests of workers, businesses are deeply aligned, especially in these times of crisis

Enhancing social security is the most important action to mitigate the widespread humanitarian crisis. Food security must be ensured – we must universalise and double the PDS ration for 3-6 months and distribute it free through doorstep delivery along with cooking oil, pulses, salt, masala, sanitary pads and soap in advance to all.

Emergency cash relief of Rs. 7,000 per month for at least three months (without biometric authentication) to each poor household/migrant worker. Minimum wages for 25 days per month should be released to all poor urban residents for the period of the lockdown and at least for two months month following the end of the lockdown. Full autonomy and freedom should be provided to stranded and migrant labourers in deciding their travel plans, while ensuring all measures for containment of the pandemic. No one should be forced either to stay back or to return to their home states. Stranded migrant workers should be allowed to travel for free on buses and trains.

This is not comprehensive but just a sample of measures we could consider. Nor can this be achieved overnight. A one- to two-year detailed implementation plan needs to be developed quickly, by appropriate experts, and fully involving the states and civil society. But the size and nature of measures do need to be this ambitious to be able recover.

As we come out of this crisis, which we eventually will, we must also see this devastating experience for what it truly is. A tragic wake-up call to the nation, to build a more just, equitable and humane society.

The writer is founder chairman Wipro

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