There are many ways to recovery, but we must shun the uneven one leading to growing inequality

Just how severe the coronavirus pandemic has been is hard to quantify, with its impact felt on every sector of the economy, but a report of the 'ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work' should give a fair idea of just what it has meant for the labour market around the globe. According to the report, 8.8 per cent of global working hours, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs, were lost in 2020, which is four times the number of jobs lost during the 2009 global financial crisis. This eventually led to an 8.3 per cent decline in global labour income, which is about 4.4 per cent of the global gross domestic product. With so many jobs lost and loss of income, one can well imagine the struggle that people around the world are making to make ends meet. While the year 2020 has been a bleak year from any perspective due to the pandemic, it is still unknown if the current year will be any better, with deadlier variant of the coronavirus surfacing, and lockdowns and curfews becoming the norm in many developed countries.

Still there are predictions of a relatively strong recovery in the second half of the year, as nations across the world start vaccination programmes in earnest. The degree of recovery would, however, depend on the progress of the vaccination programme.

Even under an optimistic scenario, where the pandemic is under control and there is an increase in consumer and business confidence, the ILO has forecast a 1.3 per cent loss of working hours globally in 2021. Thus, it would be naïve on the part of the government to think that once the vaccination programme is rolled out, things will fall back to the pre-pandemic days immediately. The ILO Monitor has made certain policy recommendations for recovery, and it would be in the interest of our government to adopt them. They include macroeconomic policies that are accommodative in 2021 and beyond; targeted measures to reach the hard-hit groups, in particular women and younger workers; focussing support on the hardest-hit sectors, such as accommodation and food, and retail and manufacturing; and social dialogue to implement the recovery strategies to create inclusive, fair and sustainable economies.

There are many ways to recovery, but we must shun the uneven one that leads to growing inequality and instability with more crises ahead. The government cannot afford to pay attention to only those who lobby hard for their cause, such as the business community. It must see to it that those sectors and workers hit hardest are not left behind, as this will lead to increasing inequality. The ILO Monitor has recommended a path that will provide lasting, sustainable and inclusive recovery - one that focusses on a human-centred recovery for building back better, prioritises employment, income and social protection, workers' rights and social dialogue.

Bringing the country back to normalcy soon is a huge challenge, but not an impossible task if all the stakeholders put their heart and soul into it. However, with the country facing political unrest since the dissolution of the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister, the course of recovery and its sustainability will be determined largely by the political scenario that unfolds.

Blackbuck population

The blackbuck population has increased in Bardiya's Blackbuck Conservation Area, the only protected area where the endangered species called antelope cervicapra are found, thanks to the government's efforts and the cooperation from the local communities. As per the official data, there were just nine blackbucks in 1976 in Bardiya's Gulariya Municipality.

These days, their population has risen to 200.

About eight years ago as many as 100 blackbucks were swept away or went missing in the heavy floods in the Babai River. Prior to the floods, there were around 300 blackbucks roaming the area. The endangered animal is the major attraction of the area, which is located close to the Bardiya National Park, home to the endangered one-horned rhino, Royal Bengal Tiger, wild pheasants and peacocks. As the number of endangered species continues to grow, the government has shifted some of them to the Suklaphanta National Park in Kanchanpur district in farwest Nepal, where the climatic condition is similar to that of Bardiya National Park. Blackbuck Conservation Area, spread over 17 square kilometres, can become a major tourist destination if the concerned agency launches a publicity campaign.