As a realist optimist in a post Corona world, I foresee a new world order where societies and nations are remodeling and realigning to a more resilient and more forward looking future driven by science and reason.
Lest we forget, in the in the killing fields of a different kind during the last 2000 years of our existence mankind has confronted more than 20 different epidemics and has lost over 400 million lives. In these times of the unprecedented Novel Corona or the COVID19 epidemic outbreak, it is estimated that we may lose over a million lives with over 10 million infected. How vulnerable mankind is even in this day and 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 and behavioral public health interventions, we need to closely look at the structural intervention, that is, the legal framework to review health system preparedness.
Humanity faces fast forward being on crossroads for the first time in our century and the choices we make will shape our future for generations to come that goes beyond the immediate threat we confront. To inherit a world that is disease free is an obligation that we owe to our future generations. Ofcourse we will pass the storm but the world will never be the same again as the real dangers from dangerous decisions, knee jerk reactions and technologies that will be pressed for fear of doing nothing do remains 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 and global comradiere and solidarity has already ensued whence large scale and real time social experimentation on human psychology and social behavior are being conducted by governments. These are not normal times where work from home and distance and online mode become a 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 trust science and technology, though superfluous travel gets a setback but philanthropy and humanitarian aid and empathy now go beyond political, geographical and racial barriers.
It is in this context that we examine as to how COVID-19 crisis is throwing up new challenges, but more importantly on a note of cautious optimism also some emerging opportunities, both in near and distant futures,
For Environment and Climate Change,
It is going to be a future positive for the environment and climate change 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 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 and 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 short term plans and models where good cash flow will be the key to success.
It is important 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 in the days to come as per new McKinsey report.
Employment as we know will cease to exist to be replaced by creativity and innovation.
Capital expenditure will be reduced in favor of short term working capital with minimum leverage and 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.
No frill lifestyle and entertainment expenses as also savings instruments will receive a big boost in place of permanent salary, rent and travel.
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 and co ownership of apartments and houses.
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.
More respect and trust in empowered local governments will now be more permanent and will lead to better discipline of civil society.
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 sure off our sights, whereas tourism will become more select and specific, and as a result the entire industry and hotel chains will be impacted in both short and medium term futures.
For Women and Families,
Familial bonds of love, hope and empathy will evolve out of confinement and bondage in the near future.
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 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 more so in the west.
Family disputes and quarrels will rise and will have to be handled by separate courts.
Small service enterprises including home deliveries will boom in short term but will be overcome in the long term by authentic and branded chains.
Technology and Artificial Intelligence will be integrated into the erstwhile industries and embedded in every business model.
Essential commodities will receive a big demand in near future to be replaced by others and big monolith corporations will 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.
For Health and Wellness,
Rise in investments in health products, naturopathy, yoga, ayurveda and spiritual endeavors 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 malls and on demand will be home delivered.
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 where neighborhood 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 it is important to keep the admissions afloat and completely online by better use of existing resources and adapting relevant social and digital outreach.
In the short term and to ride the corona storm it is better to remain exposed through webinars and online dissemination to attract aspirants by going completely online.
Degrees will be delivered by online and interactive instructions and teaching where even the assessments will be carried out online.
Qualitative and Quantitative Metrics and Key Performance Indicators operating on cloud-based technology platforms will become a buzz word in the immediate future.
More and more skill based education and training will take over the academic and theoretical classroom teaching.
Virtual Classroom solutions will be sought by big corporate in place of tedious consultations in a digital marketplace.
Immersive experiences will include all augmented reality and virtual reality for marketing and learning will become a rule.
E-Learning endeavors, E Commerce development and services would be led by scientists and technologists in a digital world.
E Courses and development E-Textbook creation – digital content development will be a collaborative enterprise.
Management Information Systems will be real time and human resource productivity will be judged by their 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 & secured fee payments will dominate all transactions worldwide.
For Individuals and Family
During Corona times and in the near future as an individual or a family unit please do hold back any avoidable or high risk investments where visibility of returns is difficult to predict You may also minimize expenditure on the routine stuff and develop a frugal mindset. Develop yourself on improving competencies and skills to become more effective, relevant and efficient. Share the financial situation with your family members and educate them on the 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.
I do have a piece of advice for most of our youth so that they may like to prepare themselves for the emerging and future global paradigm,
Dependence to independence during Corona 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.
Days of patriarchal organizations are over and self driven individuals instead of being curated by leaders will become a centerpiece to success.
In the immediate and short term future please show a big heart and take care of employees. This will be wise as it will reap you good returns in due course. To be reasonable and transparent with them will be a great step forward for your own success.
The customers and suppliers will remain loyal, even more than before if you remain caring and supportive to their own personal crisis.
Investing in right business model and right technology will for sure improve your own reach in adding value customers
This is a time to keep capital expenditure on hold or low based on returns as also frugal in working capital and operating expenditure
The slow down can be put to advantage in improving your processes and a great time to restrategize. Yes when the competitors is down it is a good time to catch up with large players if you plan right.
One important lesson during these times indeed is that nothing is constant in an ever changing world where even this crisis will change. As an optimist I have 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.
On International Efforts,
International efforts are best coordinated and enforced through the United Nations. Indeed the world needs a special UN force to fight COVID-19 as 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 and highly politicized due to petty battles, awkward veto rights and the need for transparency. No emergency meeting to authorise 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 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 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 is very much possible.
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 endeavors from the ashes, for a brighter future positive ahead.
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, endeavor 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.”