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Can the world successfully reverse the damage incurred by COVID-19 in this century itself?

It’s been more than a year that the only ‘normal’ that the human race knew has ceased to exist. In India, the rush to go back to the ‘normal’ pushed us back by miles, with the tsunami of cases that flooded the country in April and May. As the first wave disturbed the country, citizens believed they had defeated the worst that was possible. The complacency of each day resulted in the devastation that was the second wave. The businesses that had picked up after the initial lockdown once again went into a slump with daily wage labourers and small businesses suffering great losses.

So, as we set ourselves ready to build back up after the second wave, it might be worth thinking about the present and how it might affect the future that lies in front of us – the near and the distant. The steps we take today shape the next many years. The innumerable small changes we are making every day will eventually add up, making it possible that 50-100 years down the line, as a race, humans will process life in a completely different manner.

Source – domo.com

From November of 2019 to June 2021, the COVID pandemic has shone a terrifying light on the structural problems embedded in the myriad ways the human race has functioned. Years of neglect have led to an erosion of the reliable safety net and social fabric. Globalization is a revolution that is so well oiled that we often forget it is there. However, coronavirus almost threatened the very standing of this wall. Reports note that this crisis has caused the biggest and fastest decline in international flows after the world wars.

The forecasts, as noted by Steven A. Altman, estimate a 13-32% drop in trade, around 40% reduction in FDI, and roughly 50-80% decline in air travel in 2020. A year later, we can say that it has bent the structure of globalization, but it is far from being broken. Years of inter-country relationships and international institutions have ensured the world remains tied together.

However, a volatile world of hyper-national ideologies can shift the marker to inward-looking strategies. It is at this time that we need global corporations to harness the opportunities and make the recovery possible.

As far as the right approach to economic recovery is concerned, many different viewpoints have come to light. According to economist James Meadway, a wartime economy isn’t going to work for COVID. What we need is a revolution in the economic mindset. Many economists call for a state directive economic recovery standard. A democratically strengthened system that can bolster the health system and protect the vulnerable from the damages of open market systems can prove to go a long way and ensure that we might get on track in this century itself.

Source – forbesindia.com

The vulnerability of the masses is the highlight of the pandemic. To get closer to reverse the attacks of the pandemic in this century itself, we would need to be more mindful of the human rights issue that we see developing around us. Seeing sights of homeless people, flooding of refugees with no safety standards in place, waging wars in pandemic hit nations, migrants suffering from the lack of safety nets and prison cells becoming breeding ground for infections aren’t the sights that are reassuring for a world that is wishing to reverse the deadly trend.

The pandemic and the rush to go back to ‘normal’ has also shown us the cracks that are there in our ‘normal’. For a long time, societies have breathed easily in the false illusion that they are a democracy where everyone is safe and hearty. An invisible virus has broken the spell and shown the ghastly lengths of the inequalities. The pandemic and our response to it has shown that we are not equal before the pandemic.

Those who were impoverished before have become even poorer, and those who were already vulnerable have become even more vulnerable. By giving governments freedom to crack down dissent by restricting movement and passing laws, the pandemic has attacked the very democratic fabric of the free world.

We now stand at crossroads. If we keep on exploiting human rights the way we are doing now, a century on, forget reversion, but we will have a much worse global system. To successfully reverse the effects, it is pivotal that we do not undermine democracy and empower people instead of marginalizing them.

Covid for us is not just a health crisis but a well-being crisis. To successfully reverse its trends, we need to recover not just economically but also in the developmental areas such as gender equity, educational equity, and climate change. Unlike sectors such as aviation and tourism that might witness a tremendous boom when they reopen, developmental sectors are more slow-paced and take years of hard work for slight progress.

This crisis, as natural as it looks, is socially driven. What we as a society do now will determine what the next century will look like. As we stand to decipher ways in which we can get on track, it is worth thinking about how we can stop the next pandemic from happening. Driven majorly by the exploitation of nature, by ensuring the protection of the ecosystem, we might if not stop, then at least delay the next pandemic.

So, as we move ahead, it is crucial to remember that future ahead of us will also depend on how the governments and societies respond to crises in front of them. We, as a community, are desperate to go back to our normal. What we must accept now is that the world has changed and it is crucial to adapt to newer ways of thinking and being. The leaders of today need to resist the urge of promising people of sunshine-laden days. We need stricter policies. Conspiracy theories of the origins of viruses will only take us so far. Rather than looking to blame countries, looking to collaborate with them might be a better solution.

Source – oecd.development.materrs.org

Therefore, it can be safely stated, that the world will not be able to successfully reverse the damage incurred by COVID-19 in this century if all countries do not come together. Now is the time for developed countries to offer support and show solidarity, to protect and empower the most vulnerable in the world. It is up to us to make the ‘new normal’ a better one.

Written by- Soumya Dixit
Edited by- Isha Mehrotra

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