Shivindra Pratap Singh
Lancers Network Limited
As the past two months adequately highlight, the COVID 19 pandemic has found most of this world unprepared and off-guard. Even the most developed countries and best of economies have been brought to a grinding halt. Human life as we have known it since the end of World War II has been held hostage. The Corona virus has successfully managed to infuse a sense of doubts and insecurity into the minds and thoughts of 7 billion human beings across the globe. Unfortunately, as of now the best that our science and knowledge has in response to COVID 19 is a lockdown, to send everyone home and ensure the streets are deserted.
The economic fallout of this pandemic and the resultant lockdown is yet to fully reveal itself. The focus at this stage is to ensure that it does not pass from human contacts. It is evident that there is not a single industry that has not been jolted by the events of the past 12 weeks. Supply chains have been brought to a grinding halt, and the best of business continuity plans have been made to appear useless. In an unprecedented turn of events, this is probably the first time in human history that both demand and supply across the world have been sabotaged like this, or that is what we would like to believe.
Every disaster, natural calamity or conflict witnesses emergence of a special type of entrepreneurs who specialize in business of disaster – ‘disasterpreneurs.’ These individuals identify the business opportunity that any disaster offers and then single mindedly go after profiteering from it, ignoring the law of the land, ethics and basic humanity. This business of disaster can be rather profitable.
We in India are witnessing these ‘disasterpreneurs’ in the form of counterfeiters who have stepped in and filled the last mile supply chain vacuum by providing substandard, mostly locally assembled/ produced spurious products. As per some industry estimates under normal, read non-pandemic, circumstances counterfeiting causes a loss of over Rs. 1 lakh crores annually to the Indian economy. It is believed that over 10,000 enforcement actions are annually undertaken by various law enforcement agencies across the country. Close to 100 enforcement actions have taken place across India since the lockdown started. Every single successful brand is suffering from this menace including pharmaceuticals, FMCG, automotive, liquor, cement, electronics etc.
It is imperative at this stage to acknowledge and understand the potential health, safety and security risk posed by the greed of these ‘disasterpreneurs.’ Fully aware of the priority of the law enforcement at this point in time, these counterfeiters are working on full capacity to maximise profits across the country. As we plan our next 12 weeks it is important for the law enforcement authorities to ensure they focus on curtailing the counterfeiting activities by proactively engaging with the brand protection and security functions of leading brands. The nation cannot afford a public health scare and loss to the exchequer emerging from mass distribution of counterfeit products across the country. Relentless pursuit of these perpetrators followed by enforcement actions is a need of the hour and that must be incorporated into our country’s priority policy objectives.