The world after coronavirusThe current Covid-19 pandemic is certain to bring a permanent change in the world.
After every pandemic, the world becomes a better place to live in, and it brings course corrections in politics, society, economics and the environment globally. In the book Pale Raider, the British science journalist Laura Spinney has analysed how Spanish flu impacted the world—like the influence it had on India’s independence that brought the world’s largest democracy into existence. How it permanently altered global politics, race relations and family structures, costing between 2.5 and 5 percent of the global population. In India alone, 18 million people died, about 6 percent of its population, while an estimated 500,000 children were orphaned in South Africa alone. However, it brought innovation in medical science that helped humankind in many ways as, at that time, life expectancy at birth in Europe and America did not exceed 50 years. In other countries, it was much lower; for example, Indians and Persians were considered to be very lucky if they got to celebrate their 30th birthdays.
Changes may be coming
The current Covid-19 pandemic is certain to bring a permanent change in the world. As always, politics is largely influenced by economics. With the current crisis, it is certain that the economy that will come out as the strongest amongst the wounded will be the number one economy in the world, and it will have political influence throughout the globe. This could be accepted or looked up to by global citizens as they realise the system failure that could not fully protect them during the crisis; those who survived will be carrying the grief of losing their loved ones and hence will likely support the revolution in politics and society. If the current situation is not corrected soon, this could be the end of capitalism.
Socially, it could bring the lifestyle practised by the ancient Hindus back into the centre as people have started to realise the importance of rituals like greetings with namaskar, washing the hands and legs before entering the house, the worshipping of animals, plants, trees and forests, and the burning of the deceased. Rather than race, people may be divided by their way of life and what they eat. It is highly likely that people may move back to communities that follow a similar way of life.
Economically, governments may focus on diverting defence investments towards biological and chemical threats, thereby bringing a trickle-down effect on industries and businesses. There could be massive innovations in technology. For example, had there been a significant development in commercialising artificial intelligence and robotics, the current issue of medical care for virus-infected patients in hospitals would have been easily addressed by algorithmic programming whereby robots would be taking over for part of the care of patients, reducing the need for personal protective equipment.
The latest crisis also demands massive developments in the delivery system of goods without human intervention, like drone-led delivery of essential goods. Medical equipment could have been transferred to various hospitals within the country or even across countries through such technology. We can expect great developments in technology to overcome business travel, physical meetings and physical transactions. There is a possibility of extensive research and development in the field of Ayurveda and herbal products to strengthen the immune system. The current crisis also demands a complete transformation of entertainment industries from movie theatres, music concerts and reality shows. The tourism industry too will demand innovation for people to commute, lodge and dine. Economic developments will also be driven by the changes in society as businesses will focus on supplying the demand created by these changes.
Environmentally, the lockdown will revive the planet earth from pollution control, repair the depletion of the ozone layer and revitalise the Amazon jungle. It may bring back the air pollution level to what it was 50 years ago.
Possibility of revolution
In Nepal, there is a possibility of revolution as migrant workers come back and find it challenging to secure jobs. There is a possibility of a complete collapse of demand for consumable goods and services as remittance inflow comes to a total halt. If the migrant workers in India, who are estimated to number around 5-6 million, return to Nepal, this will hit the economy the hardest as they are believed to be the largest contributor accounting for 25-30 percent of the total remittance inflow, as per World Bank estimates.
This time it may not be a temporary break in remittance inflow, as the countries who were offering jobs to these workers will be battling against the after-effects of this pandemic. It will take years for them to revive and come back, and their evolved business model may not demand a large workforce. As the world will innovate and automate, this could be the right opportunity to roll out full-blown artificial intelligence globally.
This is also an opportunity for Nepal to transform itself from a remittance-based economy to a development-led economy by channelling the migrant workers to infrastructure development projects as per their skillset and the experience they have gained while working abroad. The country can attract Nepali talent working around the globe by offering higher incentives, as there are chances of displacements at their current stations.
What do you think?
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