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As a realist optimist in a post pandemic world, I foresee a new world order where societies and nations are remodelling and realigning to a more resilient and more forward looking future driven by science, reason, and faith.

Lest we forget, in the killing fields of a different kind we have faced climate change during the ice ages and in the last 2000 years of our existence, mankind has confronted more than 20 different epidemics and has lost over 400 million lives.

In the next few decades, more than a quarter-million people may die each year as a result of climate change, according to a new review study. The World Health Organization (WHO) had estimated that climate change would lead to about 250,000 more deaths each year between 2030 and 2050, from factors such as malnutrition, heat stress and malaria. The study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, considers this as a conservative estimate also noting that reduced food production alone is predicted to lead to a net increase of 529,000 adult deaths in next three decades. Climate change could also force more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030, apart from health vulnerabilities to the rest according to World Bank estimates underscoring the need for investments and policies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and promote ways to mitigate the health effects of climate change.

Additionally, as we confront the unprecedented Novel Corona or the COVID19 epidemic outbreak, it is estimated that we may lose over 2.5 million lives with over 15 million infected even as the vaccines roll out. How vulnerable mankind is even in this day and the times? Yes, in this age communicable diseases still contribute 30% of disease burden across the globe. Indeed, hundreds of epidemics occur each year and we fail to respond and contain most of them. Apart from various biological, technological, and behavioural public health interventions, we need to closely look at the societal, economic, and structural interventions, to review our social and health system preparedness.

Thus, humanity faces a fast forward being on crossroads for the first time in this century and the choices we make will be a turning point to shape our future, for generations to come that goes much beyond the immediate threat we confront. Indeed, as we face the pandemic and climate change, to inherit a world that is disease free, carbon neutral and does not turn into an ecocide, is an obligation that we owe to our future generations. Of course, we will pass this storm, but the world will never be the same again as the real dangers from dangerous decisions, knee jerk reactions and random technologies that will be pressed for fear of doing nothing do remain bigger. We face difficult choices such as draconian geo tagging, surveillance before freedom and citizen empowerment reminding us of George Orwellian prophecy.

A struggle between nationalism, isolation, global comradery and solidarity has already ensued whence large scale and real time social experimentation on human psychology and social behaviour are being conducted by governments. These are not normal times where work from home, distance and online mode become the new normal even for schools and universities, governments, and businesses. In these precarious times we do realize that our health and families come first, we more than ever before believe in faith as also trust science and technology. Though superfluous travel gets a setback in a globalizing world, but philanthropy, humanitarian aid and empathy now go beyond political, geographical, and racial barriers.

It is in this context that let me observe that the crisis is throwing up new challenges, but more importantly and on a note of cautious optimism also some emerging opportunities, both in near and distant futures.

For Environment and Climate Change,

  • It may be a future positive for the environment and climate change if we play our cards right as already evidenced by lower consumption of fossil fuels, aviation turbine fuels and the aerosols.
  • Low nitrogen dioxide levels in many population hot spots and urban conglomerations is already in evidence and so is the case for reduced carbon dioxide levels estimated by International Climate Research in Oslo that predicts a 1.2% decline in 2020 using global GDP forecasts of the OECD.

For Business and the Industry,

  • Economic slowdown will be driven by the west leading to recession globally but would tend to stabilize at 1% to 2 % on cues from India and China in a post corona conundrum. There would be a dramatic and drastic change in not only the existing business practices but also in reinventing the very models in the much touted and erstwhile successful industries. Other changes post slowdown will include but not limited to:
  • Long-term business planning and models will be reduced to flexible and short-term plans and models where good cash flow will be the key to success.
  • It is important for the industry to protect the brand from drowning in the corona flood through imagination and creativity.
  • It would be a good idea to wait and watch than to go in for riskier and unpredictable returns in the time to come.
  • Digitization will be embedded into the very ethos of all business architecture so best is to prepare now.
  • Almost half of workplaces will be automated and work from home in the days to come as per a new McKinsey report.
  • Employment as we know will cease to exist to be replaced by creativity and innovation.

For Finance,

  • Capital expenditure will be reduced in favour of short term working capital with minimum leverage and eco-friendly employment generating returns.
  • Value for money will be the new mantra and quick return even if risky investments, will thrive in a world seeking easy wealth.
  • Stocks and Trading will get fully virtual in the long run where more and more individuals will find it easy to invest.
  • Shares worth and volatility will be driven by AI and ML where ordinary individuals and investors will rule over the major market drivers.
  • Investing in right business model and right technology will for sure improve your own reach in adding value customers.
  • Capital expenditure will be on hold or low based on returns as also frugal in working capital and operating expenditure.
  • The slowdown will be put to advantage in improving processes and to strategize.
  • Competitors may be down and a good time for some to catch up with large players.

 

For Entertainment,

  • No frill lifestyle and entertainment expenses as also savings instruments will receive a big boost in place of permanent salary, rent and travel.
  • New audio-visual technology will allow ordinary individuals to create, innovate and incubate new ideas and produce own movies.
  • Entertainment and Gaming will be virtual and interactive on distance mode e platforms with limited physical encounters.-

For Real Estate,

  • Ownerships, credits, and mortgages will be minimized in favor of rentals.
  • Sharing and co ownership of apartments and houses will be the norm.
  • In short term valuation may take a hit but over long term it will rise above the ceiling.
  • Sustainable and energy efficient housing and townships will have a premium.
  • Technology embedded smart urban development will be the norm.

For Governments,

  • Authoritative governments’ even benevolent autocracies will thrive with full controls on social media and individual freedoms.
  • The bureaucracy will become lean and mean but better paid and efficient with participative approaches.
  • Respect and trust in empowered local governments will now be more permanent and will lead to better discipline in civil society after an initial unrest.
  • Social security plans and subsidies, youth and unemployment benefits and schemes by governments will take a heavy toll on state exchequers.-

For Travel and Tourism,

  • Travel that is non-essential will be out of our sights, in short term but will get a big boost with emerging newer and faster modes of transport.
  • Tourism will become more select and specific, and destination travel will get a big boost.
  • The entire industry and hotel chains will be discounted in both short- and medium-term.

For Women and Families,

  • Familial bonds of love hope, and empathy will evolve out of confinement and bondage soon.
  • Women driven enterprise will tend to benefit on a long-term basis during the slowdown as they will tend to work from homes.
  • Socio psychological pressures in the short run will give vent to petty quarrels and disputes and even divorces that will take a long time to heal.
  • Family institutions will get a fillip and a more equal role for both men and women.
  • Disputes and quarrels will rise and will have to be handled by separate courts.

For Services,

  • Small service enterprises particularly home deliveries will boom in short term.
  • All services will be technology driven and will be inclined to use self help techniques.
  • These will be overcome in the long term by authentic and branded chains.
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Metrics and Key Performance Indicators operating on cloud-based technology platforms will become a buzz word in the immediate future.

For Technology,

  • Technology will be driven by Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Brain Mapping.
  • Emerging designs will be integrated into the erstwhile industries and embedded in every business model.
  • Immersive experiences will include all augmented reality and virtual reality for marketing and learning will become a rule.
  • e-learning endeavours, e commerce development and services would be led by scientists and technologists in a digital world.

For Corporations,

  • Transnational and multinational corporations will drive the business world.
  • Essential commodities will receive a big demand in near future to be replaced as subsidiaries of big monolith corporations to produce and run these enterprises.
  • Efficiency improvement and innovation will be the cornerstone for every business enterprise in the time to come.
  • New ideas and new technological breakthroughs will drive the future of industry where distance mode will be the key.
  • Virtual and online solutions will be sought by big corporate in place of tedious consultations in a digital marketplace.

For Health and Wellness,

  • Rise in investments in health products, meditation, naturopathy, yoga, Ayurveda and spiritual endeavours will get a big boost.
  • Doctors and health care workers will see a big demand followed by a more institutionalized set up driven by telemedicine.
  • Pharmacies will be shopped on online with Doctors on call.
  • Malls will be more experiential and on demand will be home delivered.

For Schooling,

  • As per UNESCO over 188 countries across the globe have closed schools having launched home schooling programs enabling parents to be participants in discovering their kids talents and enhancing their innate skills.
  • Both Primary and Secondary education as also assessments will be technology driven.
  • Neighbourhood play schools will get a boost and instructions will based on games through virtual, interactive, and online modes.

For Higher and University Education,

  • In the short-term Universities will struggle to keep the admissions afloat.
  • Education will gradually become completely online by better use of existing resources and adapting relevant social and digital outreach.
  • To ride the corona storm there will be a clamour for webinars which will be the norm in long term for most universities.
  • Online dissemination of instruction to attract aspirants by going completely digital.
  • Degrees will be delivered by online and interactive teaching and even the assessments will be online.
  • Skill based education and training will take over the academic and theoretical classroom teaching.
  • Experiential and online internships will become popular all over the world.
  • Courses and development e-textbook creation – digital content development will be a collaborative enterprise.

For Management,

  • Management Information Systems will be real time and human resource productivity will be judged by individual output that will be instant and evidence based.
  • Learning Management System will be synchronous and integral to all strategic and tactical enterprise resource planning.
  • Logistics and operations management will be agile and organic where the role of robotics will become more prominent.
  • Virtualization solutions – digital authentication for digital attendance and secured fee payments will dominate all transactions worldwide.

 

For Individuals and Societies

  • In the near future as an individual or a family unit may hold back any avoidable or high-risk investments where visibility of returns is difficult to predict but over a longer time frame there will be a rush for new and sustainable investments.
  • Individuals may also minimize expenditure on the routine stuff and develop a frugal mindset.
  • Individuals will develop and improve competencies and skills to become more effective, relevant, and efficient.
  • Sharing of the financial opportunities with AI and ML based apps will be popular.
  • Family financial position and the plans to improve If you have to invest do invest selectively in right business models and track risks based on good research. This is a great opportunity to spend more time for yourself particularly on things you have missed in your life time be it family, friends, painting, photography, dramatics, study, music and even spirituality or meditation.

 

For Youth,

  • Youth may like to prepare themselves for the emerging and future global paradigm, that unfolds.
  • Dependence to independence in these times will be overtaken by interdependence and the key to success will be through creativity, character and collaboration for the individuals and the society.
  • Instead of individuals there would be Teams across spread wide geographically working in collusion with technology integration for all operations.
  • Perhaps the days of patriarchal organizations are over and self driven individuals instead of being curated by leaders will drive success.

 

For Entrepreneurs,

  • In short term and long-term future those who care of employees will reap good returns in due course.
  • Entrepreneurs who are reasonable and transparent will achieve success.
  • Both the customers and suppliers who remain loyal, even more than before if you remain caring and supportive to their own personal crisis.

On International Efforts,

One important lesson during these times is that nothing is constant in an ever-changing world where even this crisis will change. As an optimist I believe that the human enterprise is again going to triumph, and the economy will shine again. In a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex & ambiguous) world we can be resilient and creative to prepare and plan for a bright future.

International efforts are yet best coordinated and enforced through the United Nations. Indeed, the world needs a special UN force to fight global warming under the auspices of United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Yes, true COVID-19 vaccines are in but let us accept that the World Health Organization (WHO) has neither been prepared nor equipped to fight a pandemic of this proportion. The responsibility of WHO until now was only to monitor threats to public health, to inform and advise the member states. Also, the UN Security Council (UNSC) stands ill prepared being highly politicized due to petty battles, awkward veto rights and the need for transparency. No emergency meeting to authorize the UN Secretary General for a force under Chapter VII of the UN Charter has been held to date. The fight against COVID-19 has to be on a war footing and need of a composite force with capabilities of treatment, coordinating international collaborative efforts, massive vaccination drives, sanitization, testing, hospitalization and providing quick support is the need of the hour. In such an emergency, it is the Department of Peace Operations that can advise the member states particularly the poor countries to not only send troops, but also medical professionals, police, health workers and equipment. No doubt we need a UN force to enforce social distancing and lockdowns and prevent a catastrophe in the developed and the developing world alike using global and optimal resources.

Yes, these are grave times that will pass, with courage and fortitude, forbearance, and far-sight. Let us not forget Shelley; ‘if winter comes can spring be far behind’. With a heavy heart, I pen a poem on the very essence of life to revoke and rekindle hope in mankind’s own efforts and endeavours from the ashes, for a brighter future positive ahead.

A poem by the author: 

Corona Times and Essence of Life

In times of corona, gloom and the chaos,

Lest we forget, that in times of distress,

Humanity will strive, endeavour and rise,

To a life worth living, caring and daring,

To exist on earth and persevere for others,

We shall prevail for a world even better,

 

In times of corona, gloom and the chaos,

No more of death, doom or destruction,

But we pray, struggle and strive for life,

To a world that believes, cares and shares,

To life so profound that dares and endures,

Driven by courage, fortitude and invention.

 

In times of corona, gloom and the chaos,

Humanity be reborn, cherish and to live,

To reap and resurrect, restore and reward,

To love and grow, embrace and give solace,

Like water on blue earth in skies and earth,

Let each of us nourish, nurture and innovate.

 

In times of corona, gloom and the chaos,

Our world, all life and the land that we grow,

To live and carry let us live and be merry,

To music and dance together so simple,

Where everyone can live, give and achieve,

For a life of love, dignity and the glory.

The opinions expressed throughout this article are the opinions of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Vision of Humanity or the Institute for Economics & Peace.

AUTHOR

Anoop 2

Dr Anoop Swarup

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About Economists on Peace

Economists on Peace is an editorial collaboration between the Institute for Economics and Peace and Economists for Peace and Security that aims to stimulate global discussion and shared learning on economic aspects of peace and conflict leading to appropriate action for peace, security and the world economy.

Economists for Peace and Security is an international network of economists, set up to establish economics of peace and security as a fundamental part of the academic discipline of economics.