COVID 19 Economic Impact Study by Levers For Change A Report from Ground Zero


Understand the impact of Corona Virus on Tamilnadu – Industries & Stakeholders

COVID-19 has changed the way the ‘normal’ world functions. It has rattled the fundamentals and we are all trying to cope with the ‘new normal’ – a term that is amongst the most trending today!

Industries, across sectors and states in India and globally, have been greatly affected. Some bearing the brunt directly, while others facing the challenges indirectly, thanks to supply chain disruptions. While some businesses are sailing the tailwinds, most are grappling with the effects of this global pandemic. Consumer and business dynamics have literally changed overnight. This has forced us, as people and as organisations, to re-evaluate our preparedness to fight the disease and secure the future, for ourselves and our stakeholders.

Tamilnadu is the second largest state, contributing 9% to national GDP. Its economy is balanced in terms of district-wise contribution to GDP. Tamilnadu accounts for 12% COVID-19 cases in India. The state has seen an average 12% daily case growth in the month of April, tapering to 5% daily case growth in the 4th week of May.

As an industry or organisation or business, navigating this COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath is a huge challenge, no doubt. It needs a methodology – a clear approach – to see through all the chaos, bring in a method to the madness, so to speak. It is crucial to clearly understand the economic landscape at a macro level, before and during this pandemic, to help extrapolate what could perhaps be the ‘after’ state of affairs at a micro-level.

It is with this thought process that Levers For Change (LFC), a decade-old Business Transformation Consultancy based in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, embarked on a detailed study, in an earnest attempt to understand, and thereon share insights on, this truly unprecedented pandemic and its impact on the Indian economy.

The team led by Mr.Ankur Kumar (Operating Partner), reached out to all the stakeholders they had ever come in contact with over their decade-long journey. They connected with hundreds of stakeholders: CEO’s, small business owners, farmers, large distributors, retailers, truck owners, and salaried employees across states. They were able to cut across all strata leveraging their network, which covers almost 65% of India’s tehsils. All this, with the keen intent to provide constructive insights, to help businesses and stakeholders form a clear view of the economic situation.

Why did LFC feel a need to do this? What was the purpose of this study?

“COVID-19 has presented an unprecedented level of uncertainty in the business environment, and as consultants, the one question that our clients frequently ask – ‘when will the situation become normal?’ To answer this question, we looked at several data models that predict the opening of lockdown and recovery of the economy; however all these models varied significantly.”, explains Mr.Omprakash.

“Moreover, given the diversity of India, there are so many layers of complexity, for instance, certain states host high economic activities while there are others that are rather low on this scale; while, some states are connected to the international markets, some are fairly insulated from the global dynamics. This apart we have the quintessential urban-rural divide. None of the existing data models, in a nutshell, comprehensively addressed these complexities & dynamics that are peculiar to our country, in many ways.”

“Given this diversity, exposure or lack of it and the divide across the states, it is difficult to make predictions that will hold ground country-wide or sector-wide. For example, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Karur in Tamilnadu and Surat, Vadodara in Gujarat, are two prominent textile belts, but the severity of infection is different in each of these states. The value chain and recovery of the Textile sector are thus difficult to predict accurately.”

Businesses need to understand the country-wide recovery by actually looking at the markets and geographies at the ground level – local level. We need to understand that even within a state, there are different economic centres, and each of them is exposed to varying degrees of impact.

“It thus becomes very important for leaders to have a holistic understanding. It is for this reason, to fill this gap, that we decided to undertake such an extensive study, at the local level – at ground zero.”, says Mr.Ankur Kumar

“This report intends to help understand which sectors/ areas, over a period of time, are likely to open up faster, and which may take longer. This will enable leaders to plan their business activities accordingly. A fine example of this – a client of ours, who wished to do a sales transformation project in a particular part of the country, is now looking at repositioning the market to address.”

Over the past decade, LFC has planned and implemented several sales transformation programs, spanning various sectors – Agriculture input, Construction, FMCG, and several other industries. This helped build strategic touch-points across districts.

Mr.Ankur Kumar explains, “For the study, we identified the top 10 states in India that contribute to 75% of the GDP. In these states, we further identified districts that contribute to 80% of the state GDP. We tracked and reached out to our deep network in all these districts. We took their feedback – their view on the COVID-19 impact on Agricultural, Construction, Trade, Local Manufacturing, Local Transportation, and other business activities – at their ground zero.”

“We combined their feedback with the metric of Healthcare System Readiness, which we understood from the Govt. websites – number of tests per million and medical infrastructure available to deal with the pandemic. We also read through the various reports published on COVID-19 and took wisdom from them. In this way, we created this report bottoms-up, from ground zero. It strives to help business leaders to find the right direction, to help pivot as needed.”

The report deep-dives and presents the ‘before-state’, ‘current-state’ and the actions taken by the Govt. that will impact the ‘future-state’. It explores the situation state-wise and sector-wise for insights.

A glimpse into the report – Tamilnadu

The second-largest, and among the most impacted, state of Tamilnadu from the economy point of view:

Services contribute 54.94% of GSDP. Realty projects are now delayed in the Chennai Metropolitan areas as construction workers had to suspend works and prospective buyers put a hold on investments. The lack of inbound tourists from several countries has led to a sharp fall in hotel room occupancy, to a mere 30%. Transport corporations in the state lose Rs 1,200 crore during the lockdown.

Manufacturing second major contributor – 31.28% of GSDP. With the total disruption in workflow and production schedule, the textile and clothing industry is facing its worst-ever crisis. Majority of workers are migrant labourers who have now started returning to their native places. Manufacturing activity in Tamilnadu, especially in and around Chennai, has come to halt with large auto and electronics companies deciding to shut their plants, as part of the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Agriculture contributes 13.78% of GSDP. 19 crore eggs stagnant in Namakkal – The Tamil Nadu Egg Poultry Farmers Marketing Society (TNEPFMS) reported that the industry is facing 8 crores in losses, every day. Many farmers have let flowers wither away in the fields as demand has dropped and labourers are also not available to pluck flowers. 4.5 million people relying on fishing in 13 coastal districts are hit due to the lockdown.

Tamilnadu Recovery – Given the alertness of the State Govt., in actively tracing and testing COVID suspects the state should recover from the COVID by end of July to mid-Aug, after a peak towards the end of May or beginning of June. The recovery of the economy is going to take time because the demand will take time to bounce back to pre COVID level. For Tamilnadu, most of the manufacturing is centred around the Auto industry, the demand for which may rise unsustainably in the short term because of deferred buying.


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