"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
It was just the other day that an advertisement in my inbox caught my eye. It was about the colorful ‘stylish ’masks with the caption ‘let’s make it a part of your wardrobe’.Earlier I had been intrigued by the idea of having a quintessential pocket for sanitizer in sarees. COVID-19 will remain a part of our lives until its vaccine becomes available. In the view of this uncertainty, different ideas to move on with
life is being devised with the old ways of living (masks, sanitizer pockets, etc.) Presently everyone is wondering how the world is going to look like post-COVID-19 ’but the question which one should ask is “what kind of world we want after covid-19?”
The maturity and resilience of this world order will be tested by future generations on how we reacted to this pandemic. In this essay, we will discuss the changes in the world we wish to see after this catastrophic event.
First and foremost globally everyone wants leaders and other stakeholders (doctors, scientists, NGO, intelligentsia etc) across the world to cooperate in the fight against the virus. They must do so without being distracted by political differences but by focusing on the extraordinary challenges. Pandemic gives the world order a chance to come out of the ambit of narrow nationalism and unnecessary protectionism. Doctors and scientists globally should coordinate in developing a vaccine and necessary advancements that can mitigate the risk.
Though the whole world needs to combat against the ills of covid 19 we should cherish and even preserve the blessings it brought. Most elementary among the positives is a clean environment. Newspapers report that during lockdown the air was so clean that one can see the snow-capped Himalayas from Jalandhar, hundreds of kilometers away, something not seen in decades. London, Brussels, and Los Angeles report that the ambient noise levels are so low they are now better able to detect even smaller seismic events in these cities. Sadly with the returning of much-acclaimed normalcy, deterioration of our Mother Nature is again resumed.
Pandemic gives us a glimpse of renewable living which we aspire for decades and resolved under the earth summit. One way to strive towards this is the Provision of Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA). It is a strategy for rural development in India given by former president Dr. A.P.J Abdul kalam. PURA proposes that urban infrastructure and services be provided in rural hubs to create economic opportunities outside of cities. Here not only a man can live in harmony with nature but it will further promote inclusive development
Likewise inclusive development is only possible if Sustainable infrastructure supports. All the major counties of the world including India should take this opportunity to gather opinions on renewable energy, particularly rooftop solar energy. Decentralized solar power can help spread critical services in remote regions. In addition, scaling up the electrification and adoption of public transport can reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. Though closer coordination with the electricity sector and a greater focus on vehicle charging infrastructure is a must. Complete shifting to renewable energy should be aimed at by every major country of the world.
Additionally building resilience for the most vulnerable should be everyone’s prime focus. Worldwide many people were stranded in different countries due to lockdown imposed by numerous nations. India’s Vande Bharat Mission evacuates thousands of people during that period. In the future, an autonomous body that looks after stranded citizens of different countries can be made under United Nation.
Back home 90% of India’s workforce is informally employed, which includes gig economy workers and migrant laborers. This population is extremely vulnerable to economic shocks and they were the one who was most hard hit during the pandemic. Stories of laborers traveling from Maharashtra to Bihar on foot were common during the pandemic. The panacea to this problem lies in inclusive development which is not only true for Indians but for the whole world. MGNREGA, transferring cash payments in accounts can only work as a short-term solution but the root of the problem lies in the generation of employment opportunities in every nuke and corner of the country.
Furthermore, the current crisis should change the patterns of consumption. Electricity, office space, multiplex parking, etc will be affected as people are working from home on more flexible schedules. All these offer an opportunity for implementing more flexible timing and work from home Culture. It will not only save us from building big concentrated jungles like Silicon Valley and GIFT city in Gujrat but stimulate behavioral change among people.
Speaking of behavioral change, this was one of the major phenomenons which are accepted by the people or desired by them in the future. Importance of handwashing, hygiene maintenance, and nutritional diets realized even by poorest of the poor nations. Indian traditional antibiotic kava drink along with yoga become quite popular during the pandemic in building immunity. Likewise, there are record sales of cycles and treadmills in Europe and Asia proving the bend of people towards a healthy lifestyle.
One of the services which were most severely hit during this crisis was education. Here a multi-pronged strategy is necessary to manage the crisis and build a resilient education system. Immediate measures like digital learning and Management Software should be adopted so teachers can conduct teaching online. The DIKSHA platform, with reach across all states in India, can be further strengthened to ensure accessibility of learning to the students. Pandemic provides a window to the whole world to build a common digital education platform for all the students globally in their respective fields. Though limited access to the Internet in third world countries can be an impediment.
Finally, in the post-covid 19 world greater employment in e-commerce sectors is desirable. New technologies can help support future response and resilience mechanisms which will open new avenues connecting every nuke and corner of the world. E.commerce in the future can change the consumption pattern of the world. For example, people in the future would be hesitant in getting out of their homes for groceries. All essential items could be delivered to their living rooms.
In any post-pandemic world order that emerges, whether it is U.S.-centric or China-centric, there is no scenario in which India, a universe in itself, and home to one-sixth of humanity, will not occupy a place.
The question is this: Will we emerge as part of the problem or as part of the solution? Will we emerge weaker or stronger as a nation? The pandemic has
brought us to an inflection point. How we deal with it will determine our place in the future world order.
The decisions taken today can provide immediate relief, but also secure a lasting economic recovery, increase community resilience, and ensure a long-term pathway to sustainable development. We shouldn’t let this chance slip. In the Buddhist tradition, a beautiful ‘sand mandala ’is created and destroyed at the end. The destruction of it symbolizes the ephemeral nature of material life and why humans should not cling to it. Like the sand mandala, the previous ‘normal ’should also not be clung to. It is time for us to accept the change and emerge stronger embracing the ‘new normal ’that awaits us.