Despite the incredible economic growth all across the country, India struggles with per capita among other countries in the world. The average net incomes are low whilst labor rights are not protected and people have to overcome difficulties on a regular basis. Such issues particularly prevail in rural India, which is the most populated type of land across the nation. Being a developing country, the vast majority of people still live in smaller cities, towns, and villages. Importantly, the definition of a small city or a town is rather different in India from what others might be used to in Europe and the United States. Being home to 1.3 billion people, cities with millions of residents are very common across India.
The year 2020 started with an unexpected hit to the entire world. The novel coronavirus outbreak was sparked in China’s Hubei province, which later turned into the global pandemic infecting more than 10 million people whilst the death toll keeps skyrocketing to this very date. After China’s initial outbreak, India managed to contain the spread of the virus, limiting it to the mere minimum. The virus then moved into Europe and the United States. Those areas became the next epicenters but India was still safe and sound. Nevertheless, as the virus covered the entire world, India, a major country with a significant rural population became another victim.
Stuck at home as a result of local lockdowns, many Indians have found themselves working for overseas companies from home. Canadian diaspora and the Canada-India business council have been active in providing remote job opportunities for Indians who lost jobs to the pandemic. Online gambling companies and most notably Playamo CA are particularly popular among the Indian workers that have high qualifications in web development, design, and mathematics. They get hired by Canadian and British companies that have a high social responsibility, supporting the nation during the turmoil. But what happens to cities, towns, and areas, like Udaipur that have been living off of services and hospitality industries?
Udaipur has been terribly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but not solely because of the high number of deaths or infections, but because of the practically halted economic activity. The city is one of the oldest and most significant settlements in the area, serving as a major tourist hub, despite its small size in comparison to other cities in India. Udaipur, often referred to as the city of lakes, is home to historical sites, famous landmarks, and many local businesses working within the hospitality sector.
Before the pandemic, the city was on the path of becoming one of the most significant tourist destinations in India, attracting local and international tourists. However, as the pandemic took over the world, the tourism industry was the first one to take the hit. Without any international or local flights, Udaipur is left empty. Without visitors or people to eat at fine restaurants and cafes, the local businesses are left without income.
The important factor with Udaipur is that the city is quite small, home to just under 500 thousand people. The entire population has been living off of the tourism industry and Handicrafts production sector. Even the crafts were then sold to foreigners and visitors which no longer is the case. Unlike in some of the large cities, foreign companies are not present in Udaipur, and therefore, even with high qualifications, getting a decent remote job is rather difficult.
India is bracing for a major economic crisis, the first negative growth indicator in decades. This is the country that survived the 2008-2009 financial collapse and is now expected to experience a major fall. Different estimates suggest the fall between 5% and 8%, devastating for India’s still a fragile economic structure. Cities like Udaipur will be some of the worst-hit due to their vulnerability. Yet, this western Indian city might have a solution to the post-pandemic crisis.
Gladly, Udaipur has an influential neighboring city - Ahmedabad. Home to more than 5 million people, the city is home to major international and Indian companies and is a significant manufacturing center. It sits only 260km south of Udaipur, with convenient connectivity between the two cities. There is already a visible trend of Udaipur residents commuting to Ahemdabad over the week, working and staying there, and later coming back home for the weekend.
The pattern is expected to become bolder as we transition into the later stage of the crisis. This kind of migration will support the economic stability of Udaipur, bringing the much-needed cash into packets of individuals and households. Moreover, many people with decent qualifications and education will be able to get well-paying jobs at companies based in Ahmedabad.
Importantly, Ahmedabad will support the tourism industry in Udaipur. With millions of residents within its metropolitan belt, many want to get away from the city buzz over the weekend. Udaipur in close proximity with Ahmedabad is a perfect getaway destination for the city’s residents.
Views expressed are of the author alone