The debate on how and why Covid -19 came into being, is immaterial and irrelevant today . What is more important is to know the degree of social, political, economical, psychological, industrial , geo-political and health care upheaval , it has caused all over the world. This invisible enemy has infected more than 3 Million people world-wide and caused some 3 Lakhs deaths. The USA alone has suffered more than 80,000 fatalities , which is more than the casualties it suffered during the Vietnam war.
It is asserted by experts that it would continue to create mayhem till a vaccine or a permanent cure is found , which is more than a year away as of now. Even then it might not die down but live in perpetuity to keep muting the social , political and economic conduct of individuals and nations .
Covid -19 might change the social and eating habits of the people . As long as it exists , there is no evidence of its total annihilation as of today, the habits of handshaking and embracing each other would be sincerely shed because of its ghost-like entering humans . Non- vegetarian meals might go out of fashion with most of the people .
Covid -19 is a game changer as far as environments of the globe are concerned . Clear skies and reduced pollution world over, due to lockdown and curfew, has brought out the importance of clean climate and weather . It would lead to a better environment and better health and health care .
Education in schools and colleges will be affected due to the need for social distancing . In China, already students go to schools putting on hats which makes them maintain a distance of one meter from neighbouring students . Online classes are gaining ground .
Work culture is also changing . Most companies are encouraging work from home . This would cut down overhead expenditure on office and auxiliary necessities . Jobs will get localised . Local professionals will be preferred over international brilliance of candidates .
Economically speaking, a number of industries will be affected such as tourism , aviation, hospitality , manufacturing , films and entertainment , malls and markets , transportation and even luxury goods . Eateries and restaurant food will be avoided . People might prefer to eat at home . What is more important is the relocation of some of the manufacturing industries .
Migration of labour and technical workers would make traditional locations of industries irrelevant . They will be shifted to more convenient locations . There are reports that out of 56 factories being shifted out of China , some 26 have gone to Vietnam and 11 to Taiwan. India too has bagged three of them . More may be in the pipeline . China is being deserted by various MNCs and it might affect its economy . What more nations are asking for compensation from China for supplying faulty equipment. It affects its credibility.
Economically speaking , Covid-19 might prove a blessing in disguise for India , if it articulated its position cleverly . India can particularly benefit from lead in the pharmaceutical industry . It is believed that 70% of drugs and vaccines are produced in India. Therefore ,according to Doctor Kim, dean of John Hopkins University , no matter where the Covid-19 vaccine is produced , it will be mass produced only in India .
Migration and Ill- treatment of migrant workers by various states in India, particularly, cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru, are going to affect the industrial clout of these cities and states . Factories will be relocated because migrant labour would be reluctant to return.
World attention will also be focused on the need to ban development of biological and chemical weapons. Flourishing biological laboratories in the USA , China , UK , Canada and some other countries would come under the public scanner . Demand for their dismantling might gain momentum.
Finally , Covid-19 would make a paradigm shift in human and international conduct . While the economic might of the West and USA might be in jeopardy , countries like India and Vietnam might be new economic powers challenging China. The South China Sea will become a new battle ground and South East Asia the centre of a new Cold War .
Security environments of India would demand certain rapid actions. International conflicts are now entering the invisible mode. Hybrid conflicts would aim at destroying economic and military assets clandestinely. China will now more vigorously play Pakistan against India to deter it. India will have to cleverly apply the law of “social distancing” to its international conduct . Definitely , an effective vaccine for Pakistan would be the key to its global standing.
Author: Col. Rajinder Singh
The Author has authored two books (Kashmir-A Different Perspective and The ULFA Insurgency), he is widely acclaimed for his expertise in the matters of defence and military. An alumnus of NDA, is also a graduate of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. Many of his articles have appeared in different defence magazines and newspapers.