Rich In Two Asian Nations Enjoy Lockdown, Poor Suffer
Coronavirus can hit anyone but the lockdown it caused across nations is adversely impacting the poor even as the rich enjoy the break.
Easternlink looked at Thailand and India , two countries where the economic divide is at its worst, to figure out the lockdown impact in Asia, home to about 60 percent of the world’s population.
It found that while the poor queued up for food and rushed around for donations to pay for essentials, the rich were relaxing in upscale neighborhoods .
With predictions of its economy taking the hardest hit since 2008 financial crisis, Thailand’s widening economic divide was never more glaring.
A Thailand-based businessman has resorted to delivering luxury food and drinks from the posh hotels including the Michelin-lined to the upscale Bangkok neighbourhoods and corporates.
Concierge company, the Silver Voyage Club has retooled its services in the name of White Gloved Delivery to deliver caviars and dim sum rested carefully in packed boxes.
The service has also enlisted a butler decked in gloves in a sedan to lay the table for billionaire Bangkokians.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus lockdown, which had issued pink slips to all the sectors of the tourist-driven economy, left 22 million registering for a government cash hand-out.
Hundreds of jobless are lining up daily for food donations across Bangkok, in a grim tale of an economic contraction forecast of more than 6% this year. The figures are worst since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
According to Forbes magazine, Thailand has just 27 billionaires, with the agro-industrial conglomerate CP Group head, topping the list on a net worth of an estimated $27.3 billion.
Diving deeper than five-star delivery business, uptown millennial and stock enthusiasts in Asian countries like China and Hong Kong have smartly invested the free time into trading and improving their portfolio.
Hong Kong Exchange has also said to newspapers that trading had exceeded HK$100 billion ($12.9 billion) on 24th day of the 28 days lockdown after the Chinese New Year holiday.
So much so, that reputed investment banking firm like UBS and others are seeking to grow and expand its operation in Asia. Since clients are not travelling, they are spending most of their time discussing their investment portfolios over phone or video conference, said Amy Lo, co-head of wealth management for the Asia Pacific at UBS.
China has imposed more than two-month lockdown from the second week of January 2020 to curb the coronavirus speed which has affected around 82,883 people and has claimed more than 4,633 lives.
India’s rich and powerful has used the the lockckdown as detox and used it as relaxing time as work from home ensured income continuity.
The salaried middle and upper class are now considering extra-curricular courses to gainfully utilize the free time , having hoarded their refrigerators with wines and month-long supply of packed food items.
On the other hand, unplanned lockdown within the four-hour notice period saw thousands of labourers walking across state borders to their villages for days, only to feed their hungry stomachs.
The labourers’ groups also consisted of old, infants and women.
The remaining migrant workforce is thrown to wolves with no money and family. Social-distancing has taken a back seat with six to seven people sharing a room all day long.
To top it all, these labours have allegedly paid train fare of around 700 Indian rupees ($9.20) in Indian state Gujarat to travel back home after the government allowed special trains to ferry stranded workers.
Indian economy constitutes more than 80 per cent of non-agricultural employment as informal employment. This workforce mostly includes labours and daily wagers.