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Dr. Chitresh Kumar exhorts crisis preparedness – 

Dr. Chitresh Kumar is an Associate Professor, Jindal Global Business School, Deputy Controller of Examinations, Jindal Global University, and Associate Dean, Jindal Global University (Projects, Grants & Publications). Academics. 

His research interests are interests are urban commuter and freight movement studies studies, Operations management and Supply chain modeling, City logistics, Knowledge management, Corporate social responsibility, and studying Barriers to businesses, etc. 

He is part of team who has been awarded the prestigious Jean Monnet Chair by European Union and is also working with City University, London on Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), provided by Research England. 

Chitresh has been has been part of the team for Management Development Programmes for the employees of Coal India Limited, Officers from the office of the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) Government of West Bengal, Government of Haryana, Government of Tibet (in Exile), Government of Jharkhand, Tata Steel and Government of Odisha, etc. Chitresh writes on national policy issues in the Indian Express, the Statesman, and Deccan Herald. 

An excerpt from Chitresh’s write-up in the Deccan Herald:

The COVID-19 cases have crossed millions across the world.

On the one hand, we receive news of increasing numbers of infected patients both inside and outside the ICU and the other the rising numbers of victims who succumbed to the virus. 

The pandemic has exposed mankind’s modern civilization’s lack of preparedness towards management of a global for a crisis. According to a Deloitte study:

In the early days of the crisis itself (Feb, 2020), Automotive production fell short by over forty percent across the world owing to a global dependence on China for industrial supplies. 

The global maritime traffic fell by 10% in February 2020, compared to that in February 2019. 

Some people attribute the failures exposed by Covid19 as the shortcomings of the globalization of and supply chains in the last three decades to the above failures.

However, very few How many experts have analyzed the true extant and design of the current globalization.  whether we are truly globalized?

The Deloitte report also states that Nearly  over two hundred of the Fortune-500  five hundred companies depend on suppliers in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated. Such a concentration 

An Accenture study states that COVID-19 has caused supply chain disruptions in almost ninety-four percent of Fortune-1000 one thousand companies. Hence, Resulting in about seventy-five percent of the companies have had forced to recalibrate their business outlook for the year to negative or strongly negative. 

If anything, the current crisis has taught us a few lessons in grasping the congruence of supply chains through two dimensions:

  • The globalization in its current form is hyper asymmetric in nature,  of globalized supply chains originating mostly from China and its manufacturing hubs. 
  • Resulting in 
  • very high A gargantuan number of global human mobility is needed to manage the globalized supply chains, all population converging within a few industrial hubs in China. 

Where does the buck stop?

Industries are the culprits in creating the warped nature of economic globalization. This concentration of manufacturing setups in the name of globalization can be mostly attributed to condition is a fallout of the cost-saving and profit optimization efforts of most of the organizations or supply chains. 

The exercise leading  to outsourcing, which has exposed the concentration of global suppliers in single or minimal locations that align their policies with the host nation for cost-saving and profit optimization.

You may recognize These supply chains are global but non-diversified. This Meaning s that global supply chains that concentration  are restricted at  to one location or geography makes them are profitable but not resilient. 

And hence, When faced with non-contagious disruptions, these supply chains create sufficient inventory-based buffer to function in a short-supply scenario.

But they fail to act during crises when disruptions cover the concentrated manufacturing hub. Thus closing down the supply, while also turning themselves as demand nodes. scale to a maximum. 

How resilient is the supply chain?

A unique aspect of the globalization-led outsourcing and dispersal is its traditional resilience strategies. The exercise comprises buyer-driven intra-organization quality assurance mechanisms disregarding the geography or the context-based quality dimensions like personnel welfare, work-place context quality, or government policies and regulations. 

The globalization activists have done little quality research on supply chain management. The prevailing resilience-based research focuses on intra-organization strategies arising out of externalities. These strategies and mitigation plans seldom reckon with government lockdowns or pandemics. 

The market-led management of supply chains from the resource efficiency and cost management perspectives have guided the supply chain management of essential items, including healthcare equipment and pharmaceuticals, which are focused towards managing long-term life issues, rather than short-term pandemic management like vaccines etc.

Thus, exposing them to pandemics like COVID-19, requiring government interventions, leading to blocking the movement of these products outside their respective countries. 

What other are the repercussions?

We have During Covid-19 researchers observed that particularly during the current pandemic, the suppliers or the producers of most of the goods not only stopped producing them but also became their consumer, thereby creating a multifold demand-supply gap.

The scenario during other pandemics was different.  During a non-pandemic lockdown, most supply chain strategies across products caused few disruptions of supply chains for essential healthcare items.

We did not record multiplier effects in terms of disruption to other supply chains. The healthcare supply chains had kept the quality of life of the personnel employed in other supply chains as close to normal as was possible. 

Thus, the a Academic research in supply chain resiliency strategies haves failed to the cover multiplier effect of the adverse impact of one product category’s supply chain upon others. 

Industries have floundered mostly focused up on setting right the standalone supply chain resiliency strategies. 

Organizations have failed to amend the backlash of short supplies during global pandemics at the macro-economic level

Trade ties failed to contend with disruptions in economic integration. The absence of multinational or multi-organizational resilience strategies has exacerbated local disruptions into global ones. 

What do experts say about the disruptions?

Global supply chains and how to overcome the disruptions have dominated all COVID-19 related recent deliberations. now.  

 However, 

Management research has only stated some standard solutions like:

  • assessing immediate risk impacts
  • understanding human resource requirements
  • understanding regulatory impacts 
  • evaluating and implementing alternatives and scenarios.

Both organizations and nations must seek more comprehensive measures in the long run. Resilience strategies should coordinate at national and local level contexts.

The think tank must analyze the vulnerability to government regulations and vulnerability of human resources to externalities. 

The WHO and the WTO could help in focusing on diversifying supply chains for multiple products spread across multiple locations.  

Supply chains for essential products like healthcare and medical supplies should reach across borders.

The supply should be geographically dispersed to make them bi-directional. Bi-directional supply chains for essentials will allow mitigation of externalities when producers or suppliers stop producing or supplying, or when they turn buyers or consumers. 

The plan must stress on replication of supply chains across regions (intra-country), countries (intra-continent), and across continents. 

At the supply chain and production plant level, factories require flexible designs to gain cross-product production systems that can switch between products. 

The need of the hour

The over eight-billion demography increases the probability is likely to encounter of pandemics sometime again, affecting everyone across the globe. 

We must work on preparedness to overcome the glitches crises bring on us. Since we cannot presage predict the exact time or nature of these pandemics, we must focus on facing the challenges with minimal disruptions. 
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