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COVID-19 Pandemic

“The world is learning the hard way that health is not a luxury item; it’s the cornerstone of security, stability and prosperity. That’s why it’s essential that countries not only respond urgently to the pandemic, but also that they invest in strong health systems domestically, and in global health security.” 

– Director-General WHO speech, June 2020.


The ever-advancing onslaught of Coronavirus pandemic has challenged the lifestyle of mankind in a novel way. We are passing through a watershed transition in which certain conventions of pre-pandemic life may cease to exist. The outbreak has caught the whole world absolutely off guard with no credible cure in sight. Humanity is on the road of learning by doing. Although academics still lay bets on assumption to go back to pre-pandemic life, however, the broad contours of our future have started emerging. Instead of resting in a denial mode, adaptability to change is likely to accrue dividends. Some of the key mutations influencing the impending global trends are as under:

  • Uncertainty 

The abrupt outbreak and savage spread of the virus has caught us unprepared. Varied knowledge about the virus itself and diverse experimentations have drifted us towards a state of chaos and uncertainty. Most of the forecasting is on a halt and patience to restart the engine of life is running out.

  • Financial Meltdown

The worst affected dimension of the pandemic is financial meltdown. Some of the major industries e.g., aviation, tourism, oil production, are out of business leading to mass unemployment. Governments are stressed to generate stimulus packages at the cost of development funds with a little relief. People have exhausted their savings with a vague hope for the pandemic to end.

  •  Workplace Norms

The concept of remote working is leading to the demand for an altered workforce. Dependence on fragile communication means is affecting prudent decision making. People with irrelevant skill sets are losing their jobs. Organizations are forced to invest in technology to keep the businesses afloat.

  •  Decline in Global Multilateralism

Although before COVID-19 claimed its first victim, the U.S.-China trade war was seriously threatening the progress of globalization. Nevertheless, the pandemic has added fuel to the fire and global multilateral system is entering the largest recession in 300 years. Rising trade tensions coupled with regulatory uncertainty has led to a decline in conventional business models. The need to adapt to change is as urgent as never before. 

  •  Health Consciousness 

Management of the pandemic has badly exposed the healthcare system with serious fault lines. At the same time there is a growing realization against unhealthy lifestyle prevalent in most parts of the world. People are awakening to health consciousness with respect to organic products in all walks of life.

  •  Digitalization

The concept of social distancing has reinvigorated the already ever-growing digitalization. Online platforms in all spheres are in high demand with tech giants posting windfall profits. The conventional sectors of education, health, retails, banking, etc. all are transforming their digital working methodologies with huge dependency on the technological regime. 

  •  Social Liberty

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has necessitated the mass surveillance of population. The concepts like tracking, testing and treating are ringing alarm bells on the social liberty of individuals. Increasing government controls on movement and location of their population has made privacy a thing of the past. 
In view of global intelligentsia, the existing tribulation is likely to stay for quite some time and necessitates a shift in our day to day pursuits. How COVID -19 is likely to behave in the coming days and compel us to predispose our lifestyle is a vexing question. However, a few excerpts are as under for consideration:

  •  How We Work

The workplace is likely to shrink with fewer workforce equipped with specialized skill set. Productivity will have an overdependence on technology. Management will be stressed by handling a variety of jobs to be undertaken simultaneously. Employees may lose relevance to new requirements if they do not transform their capacity. 

  •  How We Heal

The healthcare system is likely to be revolutionized with a greater emphasis on precautionary measures and screenings. The movement and interaction of persons will have to reconcile with their health profile. Health consciousness of people may give birth to development of isolated lifestyle affording immunity from viruses and bacterial invasions. 

  •  How We Learn

The school day normally has its own rhythm and routine punctuated by lessons, bells and breaks. According to UNESCO more than 90% of children around the world are out of classes. The disruption will ripple for years. Teaching has moved online, with digital lessons on a scale never seen before while highlighting concerns on digital poverty forcing children out of learning. Some institutions have already shifted to a hybrid education system where course work is confined to online classes and students attend the school for laboratories and practical work only. 

  •  How We Shop

The closure of shopping malls has magnified the scope of existing online business regime. Customer preferences are likely to shift towards shopping while staying at home. This trend will influence the supply chains and lead to its realignment in line with market sentiments. 

  •  How We Move

To contain the pandemic most of the countries have closed their borders with travel advisories in place. The movement of people is likely to be restricted with extraordinary formalities and certifications. Most of the movement will be localized under unavoidable circumstances. Tourism industry has to reconcile itself with new innovations to attract people.

  •  How We Communicate

Being a social animal, humans need to communicate frequently. Reliance on online platforms will increase and requirement of additional bandwidth with high speed internet will be a sought-after commodity. Tech savvy workforce and organizations will be in high demand to meet the requirement.

  •  How We Trade

The closing of industry and shrinking of economies is leading the world towards protectionism. Export oriented industries are likely to suffer because rich countries are losing the appetite to import. Localized consumer-based products will find a suitable market and flourish.
Caveats for Future Lifestyle
Some of the important repercussions of the pandemic include:

  •   Economic Recession

As per estimation of global economic regulators global economy is likely to shrink by 14%. This state is unprecedented and equivalent to two recessions, i.e., a depression. A few industries may cease to exist with no means to keep afloat e.g., much like Virgin Atlantic in the airlines industry. Governments have already severed their pockets by heavy stimulus packages. This raises the fear of more deaths from the lockdown than the virus itself. 

  •   Media Campaign of Fear 

The disastrous effects of virus have been viciously complimented by a deliberate endorsement of fear and chaos. Every other day news of experimental treatment with no evidence-based practice is shared. Corporate hoaxes are having a field day by exploiting this public sensitivity and adding to the miseries of patients. 

  •  Surveillance System Abuse

The employment of enhanced surveillance means with a view to track the effected people is leading to the infringement of social liberty. The individual privacy stands compromised once every activity is monitored and people will be held accountable for their unwarranted movements. 

  •   Rise of Regionalism

Globalization is seemingly a casualty against COVID-19. Countries are likely to circumscribe themselves in regional alliances with socio-cultural overlaps. Shrinking fiscal capacities will force them to prioritize for essentials from nonessentials and limit the plans for mega projects in the immediate future.

  •   Overdependence on Automation

The concept of social distancing has forced people to work through digital platforms. This dependency is increasing everyday with presence of sensitive data and information in the electronic mediums. This state also exposes a serious vulnerability against hackers and stalkers. Cyber crimes are already showing an upward trend with weak law enforcement and legal controls. 
The Recovery Path
The seismic action with which COVID-19 caught the world unprepared; the recovery path is likely to be equally nonlinear. A wide range of medical research with huge investments is underway with little signs of success so far. Adaptability to dynamic situation with an imaginative approach is the key to success. People who are alive to change and maximize themselves in line with the demands of fluctuating trends are likely to carry the day. McKinsey has enumerated a five-point recovery path i.e., Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimaging and Reform. The entrepreneurs of tomorrow must innovate themselves with development of specialized skill set workforce, digitally enabled workplaces based on resilient IT infrastructure, cloud-based services and differentiated but robust supply chain management. 
Conclusion
The obtaining environment of Coronavirus pandemic has ushered the human race into a rude awakening. The process of redemption will be painfully slow. Nevertheless, every calamity also affords an opportunity. There is a dire need to unwind the established norms, undertake an empirical stock of the situation and draw a future course while transforming this threat into an asset for yourself.


 

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