Since the time this post was written, DQ Channels has obtained the govt circular allowing IT services in the essentials list during mini lockdown. See this post here.
The Maharashtra government has announced a ‘Mini Lockdown’, from April 5 to April 30, in an effort to battle the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the state. The new regulations include a night curfew from 8 pm to 7 am on weekdays and prohibitory orders through the day, besides a full lockdown during weekends. The state government has also advised the closure of private offices, theatres, malls, gymnasia etc., while exempting a few essential services to be operational during the state-level lockdown.
The list of essential services announced by the Maharashtra state government surprisingly doesn’t include fuel outlets, fruit vendors and IT service providers. ASIRT and ISODA have asked the Maharashtra govt to include IT Services in the list of essentials.
Efforts of ASIRT and ISODA
Now, it emerges that several IT industry associations in Maharashtra, including ISODA (Infotech Software Dealers Association) and ASIRT (Association of Systems Integrators and Retailers in Technology), were on the forefront to make this demand from the Maharashtra govt. The industry bodies, apparently, shot a letter to the Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray, requesting him to add IT goods and services to the Essential Services List.
“ASIRT has played the lead in asking for the IT services accepted as a part of essential services and we sincerely hope that our request shall be accepted. We knew something was amiss when we received the initial draft on April 4, as IT services were not mentioned anywhere. With IT being the backbone of several other industries, we need our services to be a part of the list. We had the letter draft ready by the next day and initiated discussions on social groups to raise awareness.”
–Tushar Parekh, Chairman, ASIRT
ASIRT is a trade association representing over 200 members across the Mumbai metropolitan region and parts of Maharashtra. It stands up for those who provide Information Technology, cybersecurity and surveillance related goods and services.
The associations, in their letters, had pointed out that several sectors – be it government, private enterprises or small businesses – rely on Information Technology for their smooth operations. Even if the lockdown curtails only movements during nights, Work From Home (WFH) also necessitates IT services.
“We all joined hands to work on this after what we faced during the last lockdown. In fact, not being able to send IT teams on-site last year proved a costly mistake and caused us a lot of challenges.”
–Mamidanna Rajeev Patro, Chairman, ISODA
ISODA is a national-level trade association representing over 200 members across India with a majority headquartered in Maharashtra. Its members provide critical Information Technology solutions, such as datacentre services, cybersecurity, physical safety & surveillance, and business applications related to goods and services.
The associations’ letters contained three major points –
1- Include Information Technology and Security Services in the Essential Services List;
2- Issue special passes to the staff of organisations providing IT services;
3- Allow travel of IT service staff by buses and trains. During the last lockdown, the members of the associations had been through tough times and services could not be provided to customers from various essential verticals, pointed out the letter.
“Not all the losses we faced during this period were tangible. The continuous inability to provide proper services could translate into our contracts and payments to be reconsidered. In case of intangible losses, trust issues among our clients could sprout due to the restriction of movements,” complained Patro.
He also added that during the previous lockdown, even if they could support remotely, delivering complete services was a problem. ASIRT, in its letter, mentioned that many of their members are active in installing and maintaining CCTV set-ups across the Mumbai region. For instance, CCTV is a critical security component being implemented by the government for visual surveillance.
“The associations have unanimously agreed to follow the protocols. IT employees aged above 45 are vaccinated and those below are monitored for optimal health. We ensured that RT-PCR tests are done for the safety of our employees and clients. Those who go on-site are asked to follow the COVID-19 measures and government protocols,” explained Parekh, on the precautions taken by the members against the raging pandemic.
Now Delhi is on the verge of going for a mini lockdown as from today, all restaurants, gyms, malls, theatres etc shall be closed on weekends. The traders associations of Delhi need to follow the example of ISODA and ASIRT and talk to the government about IT goods and services being kept open as essential.
PS – As a further clarification – this news was understood by some channel partners to say that the govt has approved the request that IT should be added in the essential list. However, DQ Channels has made inquiries and would like to clarify that the two organisations have made the request from the govt and are awaiting the govt’s approval.
–By Ayshwaria Lakshmi