Do not let increasing heatwaves sap worker productivity in India

Source: The post is based on the article “Do not let increasing heatwaves sap worker productivity in India” published in the Live Mint on 22nd March 2023.

Syllabus: GS-3: Disaster Management.

Relevance: About heat waves impact on economy.

News: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that February 2023 was the warmest February since 1901 with the average maximum temperature at nearly 29.54°C. The latest monthly report by the finance ministry mentions heatwaves as one of the extreme weather conditions that could feed food inflation this year. The recent IPCC Synthesis Report also mentioned increasing temperatures and their impacts.

What is a heat wave, and what are its implications?

Read here: Winter Heatwaves – Explained, pointwise

How do heat waves impact economy?

a) Rising temperatures can hurt labour productivity. This includes outdoor sectors like agriculture, construction sites and street vendors and indoor sectors such as cloth weaving, garment sewing and steel infrastructural products. This is because workers will work less and absenteeism will increase.

b) Economists estimate that worker productivity declines by 2-4% with every degree Celsius increase in the temperature above normal levels, c) Denial of sleep at the night also hurts the ability to work the next day.

What should be done to mitigate heat waves impact on economy?

Change in forecast model: The forecasting model used by the Reserve Bank of India, the Quarterly Forecasting Model can be used in predicting heat waves also.

Innovative model: A collaborative effort by the government, private sector and voluntary organizations must invest in new building materials for homes as well as factories. Private investments in new roofing solutions to cool down homes in urban slums should be encouraged.

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