During the Pre-COVID days, most of the people attributed positive meanings to the word ‘Western’ and would not believe that black people are getting beaten up in America. COVID era has shown that people in the west were dying because of a lack of care, their economies face financial ruin and their people are caught in a wave of violence, gang warfare and toppling of statues.
Post the pandemic, the world will stop looking at the US and West-Europeans to learn how to live properly, how to govern, and how to run a democracy. Countries will come down heavily on foreign funding of civil groups because such funds will be seen as attempts to apply a form of “liberal imperialism” to “force their worldview onto countries that think differently.” Even the courts will begin to realise how they often get involved in such subversion of national goals in the name of freedom and liberalism advanced before them by people who have ties to such international networks. Political groups masquerading as NGOs, GROs and VOs, which mobilise public opinion and public action without participating in electoral processes, will face regulatory heat.
The Chinese LAC trouble of 14-16 June has established beyond doubt that even when the government stood for Indian sovereignty and national consensus, it faces a “constant struggle” with “internal agents” doing anti-national bidding and with people abroad. All Indians must demonstrate the same position on certain issues, and this entails forming a national consensus on how to handle any national issue – a cross-border problem with China, Nepal or Pakistan, a pandemic or the rebooting of the economy. Nationalism movement will be strengthened.
Experience over the last five months in terms of how the world has dealt with the pandemic has exposed the hubris of populist politicians and the complacency of scientific ‘experts’ who work as the government’s scientific advisors. Time was squandered resulting into thousands of lives being lost.
This pandemic, which has killed nearly half a million people out of nearly nine million people already infected so far will leave humanity transformed; with new norms of individual and social interactions, increased pressure for universal vaccination and a new shape of the modern world. Tensions will arise over the interests of communities versus individuals. The vast number of deaths will precipitate new waves of xenophobia against the Chinese and also the French and the Italians.
Governments and scientists will be accused of not doing enough and an intellectual crisis may ensue. People will notice a striking gap between the extravagant claims for 21st century medicine and the dismal reality. The sense of scientific and medical failure will lead to a growth in alternative medicine, back-to-nature movements, spiritualism, and new prophets for a post-COVID age.
A new era of research into the control of viral diseases will be born. Alternative ways of looking at causation of diseases will emerge. Scientists will break away from the present thought that simply knowing the identity of a pathogen and the aetiology of a disease is sufficient to bring an epidemic under control. Community mitigation of disease, cutting across poverty and inequality will be embraced with new political energy. The success of such mitigation will be possible when designed on “military logic” of discipline and unity. After poverty and hunger, health will become the next political slogan. A new public discourse on themes like pessimism, irony, and absurdity will become common. Societies will thrive after the COVID pandemic subsides. The 2020s will see a period of flourishing economic growth.
It is to be hoped that, after Covid-19, no one will be foolish enough to make the same mistake again though it seems to be characteristic of human behaviour that, indeed, we are foolish enough and we will repeat our mistakes. COVID-19’s effects will be profound and long-lasting; how profound and long-lasting will be up to us.
(First published 21 June 2020)
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