By Jasnoor Anand
Picture Source: Pinterest
We live in an era that sees people from several different generations exist in the present. You have our grandparents’ generation; those who lived through, and saw the end of the first, and second world war, and experienced one of the deadliest pandemics. Those who waved the flag of independence, those who watched several peace treaties go through trial and error. This was way before globalisation took place, making it tough to keep up with the world constantly. Although it was an era of simplicity, they were the ones who ignored social oppression, who made it hard for coloured people to find safety in their own homes, the ones who shunned an entire community of people to the shadows. But the most dominant religion believed them to be the ‘untouchables’.
Then came our parents’ generation. They lived in a time when change was at its brink and the oppressed voices finally found a mic to speak into.
Then there is our generation. The one that is still learning, the one that never in their wildest dreams imagined that they would be a part of something which would have such a drastic impact on their lives. Our lives, which are no longer as safe as they were.
The recent Covid-19 situation has changed the lifestyle of every single individual.
In an era run by technology, individuals find it overwhelming to read about such tragic incidents. Moreover, this pandemic has created a solemn atmosphere where, every day, people are on their respective tabs only for the reports of the number of deaths and sick people to pop up. News on how it has shattered the global economy, how each day people at every corner are struggling, trying to save the people and their own lives.
This pandemic reveals the strengths and weaknesses of every nation from the first world to the most vulnerable ones, it tells us that veto is nothing but a chronological error, unbefitting, it tells us how underprepared we are.
But the most important thing is that it tells how a single virus can wipe out years of hard-work and place us 20 years behind. Industries and businesses worldwide have entered a perplexing situation, where they are trying to save years of efforts, and their employees, who are no less than family to them.
This pandemic cannot be another one of societies experiences of new-found ignorance. It is time to redesign society as we know it.
Spanish flu 1918-1919
The Spanish flu of 1918 was one of the deadliest turn-of-the-century diseases that turned into a severe pandemic. It was caused by an H1N1 virus, and infected nearly 300 million while killing 50 million worldwide. Retrospectively, more number of soldiers and people died due to the flu than both world wars.
With a lack of antibiotics, shortage of medical help (due to most doctors serving during WW I), and unavailability of flu vaccine, eradicating it became practically impossible. Human resources, infrastructure, and even medical equipment were scarce. All this wreaked havoc and lead to a public health crisis. To control influenza, infection-control efforts such as quarantine, isolation, social distancing and usage of disinfectants was undertaken.
Yet, a 100 years later, here we are, facing a similar pandemic which, only within few months, has caused devastation and been declared a global disaster and situation of national emergency in most of the economies.
Despite advancements in science and medicine, we find ourselves in the same grind.
Despite signals and warnings, countries neglected the chances of the pandemic worsening; and here we are, fighting and taking precautions for our lives.
A significant portion of the country’s GDP, in my opinion, should be invested in eradicating poverty, and creating more awareness about health and hygiene, while educating the already educated, as well as the uneducated.
A lack of all this has led to involuntary unemployment where those having the skills and knowledge, and those willing to work, are deprived of it.
Even those in the unorganised and informal sector are jobless with no reassurance of whether they will be able to do the same work again.
Heroes need not necessarily represent those who wear a cape. In real life our heroes wear scrubs and military uniforms.
But today, we are talking about our healthcare heroes who are in the frontline, fighting and struggling day and night irrespective of their condition to save our lives. To save humanity.
Doctors, nurses and every other individual involved in the medical unit are trying their best to keep up with the pace of devastation.
This pandemic is no less than a war that the doctors are fighting, with their lives on the line.
But isn’t it unfair to send them to the battlefield without the essential vests and armours?
They are facing a shortage of necessary equipment like gowns, gloves and face masks, i.e., things that comprise a safety kit.
In a few places, doctors fighting coronavirus are wearing raincoats and helmets!
It would be wrong to say that a pandemic came as a surprise for the nations worldwide, but it is absolutely correct to say that our economies have failed the healthcare workers, making them grossly unprepared.
It is time for nations to realise and differentiate between what is more crucial for survival. Branches like healthcare and education should be given weightage significant like that given to spending on military and armed forces.
The Domino Effect
It is true to say that happenings in one place can affect the economy of the other tremendously.
By its very definition, a pandemic is a disease endemic spread across various regions, nations & continents.
Coronavirus, therefore, is capable of shattering the economy worldwide.
Businesses are struggling to survive in this global crisis which is quite different from the global financial crisis, 2008, and the great depression, 1929.
Consumption, manufacturing, retail, real estate and the most affected, travel and aviation industry, collapsed sharply in a few weeks.
It is nothing short of an unprecedented event in terms of its speed and global outreach, thus proving the domino effect.
Stock markets are facing a bearish period, affecting investments and savings.
Countries around the world are facing a surge in unemployment as around 7 billion people (almost 90% of the global population) are in their homes with no work to do, which has brought the global economy to a standstill.
Governments are working on enacting new laws and a few of them are having a salary cut to provide during the crisis. Some of them will pay a share of employees’ salaries so that companies do not give up on them, making their job secured.
Some of the central banks like those in Japan and Switzerland are following negative interest rate systems, making borrowing cheaper and also to encourage people to spend rather than save, to increase the money supply and getting money into circulation.
Since people are buying less, demand for products is also deteriorating with restrictions on import and export of products. Sourcing of raw materials, therefore, becomes difficult.
There are times where a country or two might be in recession but the third country might not.
However the current crisis is going to affect the global economy as whole, consuming within it the first world, second world (developing nations), and third world countries. Now is the time to be fighting for the survival of the economy, and its people.
An educated illiterate refers to a person having an educational degree but no common sense.
There are many places which struggle with the problem of illiteracy, but what is the difference between an educated and an uneducated person if both of them turn out to be ignorant towards the economy, that economy that survives because of them? It is a two-way street:
If there are no wise people, there is no economy.
If there is no economy, there are no wise people.
We live in a world where people are oblivious to what is happening outside their own lives.
For instance, in many areas, despite restrictions and a lockdown being imposed, people are having a merry time moving out. No, they are not poor or illiterate but highly educated, and acting unaware despite being knowing how one wrong move can ruin theirs, as well as the lives of their loved ones, increasing the rate from 1 to thousands. But it is not their fault. Education makes a man perfect, it gives them pride and makes them selfish and obtuse. Doesn’t it?
They find it cool to break rules and laws, be it getting into a tiff with the cops who are slogging to keep their respective places safe or spitting on pubic equipment, infecting them.
Education is important and every single individual has a right to it, but schools and colleges should focus on making them aware and not just focus on teaching from books.
There are places where people are protesting against the stay at home orders, which show grave negligence and fatuity on their part.
Recession or Depression, or both?
Countries are forcing an economic recession by practicing social distancing to break the chain of the pandemic. But at what cost?
The workforce is at home, not spending, but trying to save an amount sufficient for them to survive this deadly pandemic and the aftermath.
Could it be a great recession?
There is an unprecedented rise in unemployment. For countries like India, where more than half of its population is in the informal sector, this is situation of concern.
There has a been a severe drop in spending across the globe, affecting markets, with an increase in the mortality rate. The spending, therefore, automatically drops to level zero.
Could this be the making of a great depression once again?
Within no time economies would be slipping towards depression due to stagflation.
With increase in unemployment, and stagnation along with inflation, there are chances that the economies around the globe could face a situation of stagflation which would be no less than an economic disaster.
This situation is way beyond Keynes theory, because how will the countries indulge in fiscal policy if the countries they borrow from (mainly the first world) are in a similar situation themselves?
How will the government provide, if the export-import cycle would collapse and decrease the foreign exchange?
There is a widening demand and supply gap in the global economies
Demand for supplies and power has been falling at an extensive rate.
Although the coronavirus situation has, and will have outrageous outcomes, we have to learn and be ready to fight and survive. We have to gear up and be prepared to fight against whatever more is yet to come. Some people might feel that the current lockdown has entrapped them but they should understand that this is time, the correct time, to rethink and rediscover themselves and the wonders they can do. We should be ready to catch whatever life throws at us. This situation has given us an opportunity and introduced us to virtual learning which may be the future.
As said, there was a world before Covid19, and there will be a world after it. We just have to be patient and cautious.
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