South India better equipped to deal with lockdown: ISB study

The Asian Age.

Business, Economy

Companies in the peninsular part are better equipped to deal with prevailing conditions to adopt work-from-home practices

An Indian woman works on a sewing machine during lockdown to prevent the spread of new coronavirus in Jammu, India, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo)

Hyderabad: A study by the Indian School of Business (ISB) has found that south India will face less disruption due to the coronavirus (covid-19) lockdown compared to the rest of the country.

According to the researcher, companies in the peninsular part of the country are better equipped to deal with the prevailing conditions owing to a higher propensity to adopt work-from-home practices or automate work.

The research depended on a survey from 2019 to assess the impact of a lockdown on 100 occupations as defined in the National Classification of Occupations (NCO).

The researchers gave each occupation a: (i) “work from home” (WFH) index to denote an employee’s likelihood of working remotely and (ii) “human proximity” index to denote an employee’s need to physically work with other people.

The occupations were mapped with these two indices. For instance, a computer programmer’s job would have high WFH potential and agricultural labour would be at the lower end.

When researchers mapped the two indices based on location, they found that cities had a higher potential for work from home. Likewise, urban districts were found to be more amenable to the WFH factor.

Shekar Tomar of the ISB faculty of economics and public policy, who was one of the researchers, said, “Not just urban centres such as Hyderabad, Delhi or Bangalore but the entire peninsular south India scored high on WFH home index.”

Commenting on it further, Deepa Mani, a researcher and executive director of a research centre at ISB, said the two indices were used to create a third measure disruption index (DI) to assess the lockdown’s impact on a profession.

The result indicated that south India (higher on WFH potential and low on human proximity) would face moderate disruption compared to higher disruption across north India.

Even within urban areas, there were variations. In Delhi, for instance, the north-eastern part of the city was found to be facing higher disruption compared to the southern part. This could be explained as north-east Delhi had more labour-intensive manufacturing units.

The researchers felt disruption index data would help policymakers determine fiscal support needed by different sectors. They added that sectors which are more prone to working from home could be provided with a policy nudge in the form of tax breaks.