India’s $191 billion IT industry employs over 4.3 million people and has largely managed to service its clients during the pandemic. The guidelines from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on the extended lockdown have permitted information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services to function at 50 per cent strength beginning April 20.
The industry has welcomed the move but since most people in the sector are already working from home, companies are likely to take an individual call on if and how they would be implementing this new allowance.
While allowing IT/ITeS services as part of the ‘permitted activities’ from April 20, the MHA circular noted, “These limited exemptions will be operationalised by states/UTs/district administrations based on strict compliance to existing guidelines. Also, before allowing these select additional activities, States/UTs/district administrations shall ensure that all preparatory arrangements with regard to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for social distancing in offices, workplaces, factories, and establishments, as also other sectoral requirements are in place.”
Responding to the measure, National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) said, “Good to see the MHA directive stating that 50 per cent of IT sector can go back to work. Our back to work guidance to the industry would be a phased approach (15-20 per cent workforce in Phase 1) with stringent safety measures in place.”
While most issues have been smoothened out to enable a majority of the industry, including business process management firms to work from home, one area where the IT industry, as well as, others have been facing problems are border controls.
Lack of coordination at state borders has meant that many in the IT industry have had to wait longer than usual for hardware, goods, and staff to be transported to locations where employees have been allowed to come into the workplace as part of essential services.
The country’s fourth-largest IT services firm Wipro is set to report results later on Wednesday, the first to declare its quarterly numbers since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic. All eyes are on the results to get a sense of what the impact on the business has been.