Logistics Support for COVID-19 |Editorial Hunt | 25th March | 2020

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IASbhai Editorial Hunt

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.– Michael Jordan

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020.

EDITORIAL 34:“Services at our doorstep

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020

 

Aditi Surie

Sociologist at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements

      HEADLINES:

Services at our doorstep

      CENTRAL THEME:

Similar to health workers, delivery workers are the new front-line force keeping citizens’ lives running

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Diseases:Transport

      MAINS QUESTION:

Isolation without a logistic back up can end into disruption of social life. Substantiate -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

From this article you will be having a clear cut edge on :

  • Potential risks of a delivery person out here in the pandemic can be understood.
  • Indian digital delivery platform and its risks assessment has been done here.

      INTRODUCTION: 

The ‘ferrymen’ of Wuhan, who have been providing groceries, food and medicines to citizens isolated in their homes, have been the backbone of cities that have been most hit by the novel coronavirus.

      BODY: 

LOGISTICS SUPPLY

In China, ride-hailing company Didi and others have a dedicated workforce and resources to provide free transport to health workers.

MICRO LEVEL LOGISTICS SUPPLY:

Delivery infrastructure or digitally enabled micro-logistics are key to how citizens navigate their ‘social distanced’ lives during the pandemic.

The mix of multi-side market economics, an on-demand workforce, and algorithmically managed tasks make this mobilisation possible.

This is what enabled Didi to launch food delivery in 21 cities in response to the pandemic.

Delivery workers, similar to health workers, are the new front-line force keeping citizens’ lives running.

NEW PROTOCOLS

Major delivery players in India have responded by :

  • Publicizing consumer awareness,
  • Restricting dynamic pricing (Amazon and Flipkart) and
  • Contact-less delivery protocols.

Ola offers ₹1,000 a day for lost income for up to 21 days for drivers or their family members who contract the virus.

Flipkart is reportedly mapping impacted areas to ensure that delivery agents are aware and least affected as they continue to offer relief to elite and middle-class households .

DIGITAL DELIVERY PLATFORM:

Digital delivery infrastructure is novel in form because of its socio-technological nature.

Companies like Uber, Didi and Swiggy have pushed out a notion that their responsibility is to maintain the ‘technological’ half — hygiene on their apps, keep their algorithms working and offer ‘decent’ payouts to their flexible, contracted workforce.

Like with other kinds of infrastructure it appears mute, working efficiently in the background.

FACING RISKS

It is only when such infrastructure breaks or is in decay that public concern around it grows.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the risk faced by delivery agents.

They are unable to take a break from work, work from home, or access the superfluous resources that white-collar and professionals in other fields are deriving from their employers.

Delivery personnel face severe exposure to the virus without paid sick leave, without work, and daily payouts.

Gig Workers Rising says delivery personnel don’t choose to work during the pandemic but rather, they are being forced to, potentially putting the public at risk.

Daily-wage workers in construction will possibly receive compensation from the U.P. government for their lost wages.

Acknowledging the mix of delivery personnel and app-based delivery companies as infrastructure rather than the sole mandate of private companies can deliver better outcomes for personnel.

Yet, platform delivery personnel, who are vital to allowing urban life to continue, have no proposed protections or rewards for their work.

It nullifies corporate marketing and propels the services into public governance.

KEY POINT :

Recognising the key infrastructural role that delivery personnel are playing in the pandemic opens up a set of responsibilities for the government to take on.

      IASbhai Windup: 

A NEW REALITY?

If governments around the world are ready to nationalise key infrastructure (like Spain’s private hospitals), can we use the food delivery workforce to deliver tests or essential medicines to those affected?

With the Delhi government banning all dining-in and allowing only delivery, is the pandemic a time to think about a new form of regulation that brings private, socio-technological infrastructure into the public fold in times of crises, eventually to be released back into the forces of the market?

Can the app service and app worker’s status as public infrastructure bolster a better interpretation of social protection that lasts beyond this crisis?


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