OPINION: A Full Circle View of Post Covid-19 World

We are too close to the details to see the bigger picture, while the large volume of prevalent information becomes merely reporatge.

The coronavirus pandemic is still unfolding but one thing is sure that there will be dramatic and strategic shifts while the world walks through the dark valley. But is this simply a new wave – an upgradation, or are we in the eye of the storm? An abyss of concentrated power which will eventually create a furore in all the areas of human existence from business world to geopolitics, social life to the virtual world – each inseparably linked to the other…

The Universe is always expanding and collapsing. And then from a collapse it re – expands. This is the process of creation and history stands witness to this fact that the world pattern similarly has always been that of ebb and flow. There are peaceful times and then there are times when the pressure of events sets in. We are too close to the details to see the bigger picture, while the large volume of prevalent information becomes merely reportage. In the face of such events, the course of history changes and coronavirus pandemic is one such event.

The trends likely to rise in the post covid-19 world are much discernable now, in the second half of 2020. It is not merely a new wave leading to the next level, where Khyber knife makes way for sophisticated weaponry. There is a new business climate trying to emerge from a moribund economy. The businesses have accelerated their digital transformation but they are far from overcoming all their problems. The onset of monopolistic behavior with supersized deals taking place, thereby concentrating bigger corporates who already have had a better access to the capital market, clearly forecast a much tougher time for smaller businesses to come out of the freeze. An accelerated digital transformation for these bigger corporations in turn primarily means enhanced “surveillance capitalism”, making the  states more in sync with such deals since it would be in their interest– giving a more potential rise to ‘Cambridge Analytica’ like cases.

The governments across the globe have already begun their shift to self sufficiency and wider digital reach amongst its citizens. Coronavirus pandemic has further led to increased use of digital tools of organic marketing, whereby the global population is also more receptive to such approach than ever before.  With state initiatives tapping social media platforms for outreach, there is now higher risk for general population to not being able to decipher the targeted content contextualized into their lives through such platforms. Now, with globalization being threatened and weak global entities leading to political compromises, there is less gainful competition and lesser choices, and higher threat to social and mental well being.

It is to be pointed out here that in this scenario a new trend is also subtly taking birth. It cannot be ignored that globalization is threatened but it is also certain that it cannot come to an abrupt halt. On the other hand nations have begun developing notable individual cultures and started their self sufficient projections but it is a long way to go before this complete self sufficiency comes into existence for all nations, if at all. But somewhere in between this wide disparity in projections and the reality, a consolidation of political and economic power has begun, making use of this fall out. A trend giving birth to oligopolies and endangering democracies.

If this becomes the eye of the storm, to point out metaphorically – the coriolis effect would further bellow the ‘epidemic of despair’. There is already much less discussion on mental health despite a spike in number of suicides in this pandemic. Unlike the business world, no model or strategy is being devised to curb this angle of the crisis. If this is left unattended it can lead to higher discontent, rage, unrest and depression leading to faulty decision making capability at individual level; and as a collective society. Even if the world comes out with a vaccine by the end of this year and there is a respite in the panic and anxiety due to covid-19, will mass vaccination be possible? Especially for the under privileged in any country – with World Health Organization’s “Solidarity Call to Action” not being supported by majority governments and pharmaceutical companies across the globe – it is long way to go.

At this time when the repercussions of the pandemic are still emerging, there can be no conclusions but only questions. There is much needed to be read in between the lines, than what the eyes can read. There will certainly be higher incidents of social and economic partiality and polarizations with a serious mental health crisis looming above.

 A safety buffer zone should be created by smaller businesses by coming together forming a pool which is not just fiscal in nature but also source of creativity and innovation to preserve their long term growth. It is not how quickly new technologies are adopted but how dedicated you are in maintaining the customer loyalty. As the world is going through the current storm, it is important to be aware and resist any autocratic surveillance empowered by artificial intelligence in the virtual world. And last but not the least, if the sense of fear arising from your current circumstances is imprisoning the mind – remember to first survive and then thrive, because future is always a notion and not reality that is created partly by circumstances and partly by faith in yourself. And faith, can move mountains as they say!

NUGGETS of LIFE: Living the virtual life, courtesy corona

At last, humankind has realised how vulnerable it can be

“It’s interesting how Corona has shifted the entire world to live virtually in real time and finally the revelation has happened”, I said looking up from my phone.

“Throw some light…”- came the swift inquisition from my husband who had his eyes racing across the news bulletin for quite sometime until now.

I went on rambling in my mind about how human lifestyles had become too fast paced to be lived efficiently and without a warm sense of hygge (coziness) as Danish would put it.

Until, came Corona and everything got bombarded in a lockdown – but for everyone’s good I’d say.

My husband now looked up at me sensing the silence and awaiting me to illustrate my statement. So I began.

“You see earlier the spicy gossips that happened over cards and kitty parties have now switched over to online Ludo games and WhatsApp groups. Similarly, when poori-chana were made on Sundays – close friends were invited over brunch, or the home baked cakes were shared over tea or coffee. Now they are shared on Instagram.”

“Now this sharing doesn’t lead to any olfactory satisfaction amongst friends in reality but since these turn into popular internet trends, so the poor things have to keep up with it – whether they like it or not”, I went on.

“Hmm, so it’s like I shared my cake now you share yours”, added my husband as my kiddo raced across.

“And just look at the change in the lives of all the kids! How happy they are with their virtual classes but they miss their friends terribly and evenings turn into drama parties for parents to handle. Yet there are many children across the country that do not have access to computers and sadly are also missing out the meal provided at school. There will be consequences of schools being shut down for so long.”

My husband looked thoughtful now. “You’re right! It won’t be easy to bridge the gap of holistic learning and of course deal the screen addiction.”

“Yes, so…there are also people posting pictures of working from home – on their laptops with a cup of black tea by their side – telling tales of how happy they are of this new trend of virtual offices across IT sector, while others are complaining how monotonous it is to work from home!”

“And by the way everyone has started to read newspapers online these days. It’s all getting digitized and techy I tell you. At least many trees would be saved.”

My husband shook his head in disagreement: “Dearest you would be flooded with fake news and targeted with algorithms if all you do is read from online portals. It would be no good for our society to completely do away with traditional print media.”

“But in between what is the big revelation?” he asked in a serious tone zooming back to my first statement.

I turned to look him full in the face – “At last humankind has realized how vulnerable it can be.”

Published in Hindustan Times on 11/6/2020