Expert Speak Raisina Debates
Published on Apr 26, 2020
World after Covid19 pandemic

The world is going through a historic yet unpleasant time with curtailments on movements and contacts, following the Corona lockdown. As the people all over the globe pledged to fight the pandemic with social distancing and quarantined lives, there are further warnings from scientists, like that of immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci who say  that one needs to be prepared for second recurrence or that World Health Organization declaration that lockdown not enough to deal with overall cyclical impact of the virus. As the efforts go on with hopes and prayers to tackle the issues and impact on economy, ecology, livelihood coming out of this outbreak, there must be deliberations on chalking out the contours of time after this pandemic age. This is an arduous yet not impossible task of putting a brave front against this new security dimension where the threat cuts across all borders and is an unfortunate equalizer in terms of the harm caused by it.

What seems evident is that in post pandemic age, there will be need for global solutions, not that inter-connectedness is always a good option, but because of how our problems now are marked by commonality where security has moved from relative to absolute lens. Security puzzles cannot be conceptualised anymore within an ivory tower discourse, where dimension of food, health, work, are marked by same threats which make our differential capabilities negated.

In the same frame, Pandemics have always had an impact on human civilization, in terms of findings, management, and resolution, amongst others where all sections from political to economic to health apparatus have a role to play. This time is no different and there must be cooperation at micro & macro levels with intergovernmental and global support to collectively work out strategies to deal with the world polity once the lockdown is lifted.

Detection and determination of future biological threats is of utmost importance. An idea that could be mooted at various forums is that of global science corps to make global immune system a significant policy matter for all nations. Further, existing global health apparatus like the World Health Organization (WHO), and individual institutions, must also enforce the idea of periodic testing for all national governments, thereby placing health security as the main agenda in policy discourse. Activities of the WHO, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and private players need to be synchronised to avoid duplication and cater to underfunding of the organisations. Supranational governance in order to correct past injustice can be an option here, to let every national government place -- 'one world, safe health' -- under their emergency powers. Situating pandemics under the purview of disaster management for any nation fails to achieve meaningful coordination amongst various stakeholders, tackling public misinformation, amongst others.

The world has always witnessed movement of people, goods, ideas, services since the dawn of human civilization. Globalization or notion of exchange and interchange always existed; however, the contemporary form of globalization surpasses its earlier versions, owing to its speed, scale & reach, driving on the wings of innovations in information and communication technology. Industry 4.0 and Globalization version 4.0, were driven by the saga of digitalization. This electronic governance led to shrinking of time and space on the globe, and one has to admit how the viability of the global and domestic digital projects is very essential for management of state of arts in the time to come after lockdown is over. Moreover, in globalization 4.0, we always accepted disruption as defining feature, and the fact that today economy and livelihoods have been suffering because of a virus, presents a real case for out of box thinking for all to accept to cruise towards times to come.  Striking problems call for joint efforts with the hope that world has witnessed stability after risks in the past also.

To indulge in any unmerited profiling of the invisible adversary would be akin to an immature blame game. History is testimony to the fact that infectious diseases and wars have been linked. Nations in order to safeguard national interests should re-look into biological weapons acts, with clauses on information on outbreak, vaccine monopoly, based on scientific evidence.

Mobile devices, and apps for every need, have taken over the human capabilities to a large extend. One must think of solutions like the need for right research and development of alternative technology for vaccine, personal digital health assistants on the lines of biometric numbers linked to government portals, amongst others. The idea of 365*24*7 connect has been an unshakable force that led to changed human behavior. With merits of ease and faster communication, there are many anecdotes to affirm how technology has revamped things. Due support to pharmaceutical industry, financing, training and availability of adequate infrastructure are required to build a successful edifice of health programme, fetching same benefits from rural to urban areas, factoring in gains of developments in information and technology.

The cognitive element of human beings is the hand; this is the reason why idea of touch may just spark more fears in future. Robotic caregivers in China did prove to be successful during the corona pandemic. With several attempts to advance human-robot interactions in various fields as well, the big question is whether humans are prepared on ethical & legal guidelines to deal with ‘robots’ revolution for being turning point in contemporary history.

Further, the present phase of globalization is distinct from its earlier times, as it moves with new complementary as well contradictory forces. On one hand, global competition opened opportunities, then at the other end of spectrum — cost of falling distances was borne by persistent changes in lifestyle, values and norms. Aggressive transnational marketing of tobacco or worldwide obesity epidemic are some cases to be pondered over in this regard. What is required is, put sustainability as a core value for all to adhere to, where the battle to tackle poverty, world hunger cannot be seen in isolation, from a structural perspective of correction of inequity in distribution of resources to a global strategy to bring dietary changes in light of embracing conservation to ensure security in true sense.

When the threat perception level drops, there must be attempt with certain degree of seriousness to tame populace, filtering in socialised safety nets, delinking insurance from jobs, regulation of capitalism, etc. Without this foundation, the chances of recovering economy, better gains to corporations, and creation of employment are far away. The authorities must analyse the concept of mandatory maintenance of emergency funds, by individuals and industry sectors alike, to provide a cushion for future. Dramatic changes like work from home, to not only have supportive work environment but also to cut down costs of operations without laying off anyone, and such reforms may lead the strive towards balance after the turbulence.

Supply chain management ought to be straight jacketed to work out consumer spending trends alongside ensuring that future inventory management to logistical handling is premised on patterns of being agile for massive restructuring using disruption as an opportunity. Similarly, every sector has to think of holistic strategy, to take on board it's legal, human resource department as nobody knows what may come next, and lurking doubts that it’s far from over, yet with good coordination many risks can be mitigated. It is not to say that when one shuns the quest for improvements or that we will move towards uniformity, but there is a dire necessity of revisiting the humane ethos that places the idea of meaningful life at centre of any initiative with harmony of self as well as the nature.

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.


Amna Mirza

Amna Mirza

Dr. Amna Mirza is Assistant Professor of Political Science in Delhi University

Read More +