Covid-19 has turned the world upside down. The human loss alone in US has crossed 78,000 and still counting, exceeds that of US loss in Vietnam war. This will have catastrophic demographic impact, telling directly on the workforce and economy. The loss worldwide is huge and unfillable anytime soon. All countries – big and small irrespective of the size and power – are helplessly brooding, willy-nilly, about the post Covid-19 consequences that would affect the society at large.
There will be a chain reaction: economic decline will impact society and society will never be the same as earlier. Education, healthcare, consumer services, e markets, banking institutions, research organizations, internal and international trade and all societal activities caution the world about an unforeseen future to come. However, the current pandemic and the economic consequences stemming from it will spill over to all other areas severely affecting politics and society.
Shops are closed, factories are shut, students in schools and colleges are sent on long holidays, their examinations are postponed, street vendors have shut shops and life has entered a precarious lockdown. Initially, people failed to gauge the gravity of the spreading virus, but slowly compromised with their daily lives. One of the major impacts of lockdown was witnessed in the unexpected, massive labor migration from big cities to native villages across India. What Indian big cities witnessed was unbelievable: laborers streamed in thousands to the streets lock, stock and barrel to head home by foot march. Government miserably failed in crowd control. The migration issue, however, revealed the underlying weakness of the system and the society. Invariably, all migrant workers were our proletariat.
The government in fact did not know that laborers, so large in number, lived illegally in shanties without ration cards, passports, Aadhar and other certified documentation without which they cannot even open bank accounts. Thus, they are deprived of government benefits. Labourers got panicky without income and by lockdown. Fear haunted them in as much as hunger despite assurances by the authorities to serve them free meals and provide shelter. They insisted on heading home in whichever way they could. The fear that they might be carriers of the virus to India’s countryside prompted the government to take several people as a friendly measure but to no avail. Mumbai’s Bandra incident was a glaring example.
Economically, worst affected is the travel, tourism and hotel industry. This was the booming sector in the past two decades worldwide, providing job opportunities to millions. Suddenly lockdown rendered them jobless. Normalcy will take a long time.
Covid-19 has dug a deep hole in the so-called advanced, western Medicare system, revealing its miserable weakness and unpreparedness to face a pandemic. PPE is in short supply, body bags are unavailable, people are buried in droves in the US. And amid gloom, our Namaste proved better than courteous handshakes and hugs, our traditional Ayush and Ayurvedic methods are preferred worldwide for the 2.5 million affected to stay home, stay safe and stay healthy
Author: Prof. P.L. Dash
The Author was Professor of International Relations and formerly Chair Professor, ICCR India Chair, University of World Economy and Diplomacy, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.