“From an economic perspective, the key issue is not just the number of cases of COVID-19, but the level of disruption to economies from containment measures,”
___________ Ben May, Head of Global Macro Research at Oxford Economics
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has already made us familiar with the difficult jargons like “pandemic,” “quarantine,” and “social distance” etc. It is quite a difficult situation indeed. The downtrend in the stock markets around the world, a price reduction of oil and gold, RMG export order cancellation, flight and hotel reservation cancellation due to worldwide border closures are the naked evidence of an offing global recession. Meanwhile, schools are shut, prayer houses are closed, handshakes or hugs are shunned too. Things like ‘distant learning’ and ‘remote office’ are already in vogue. The Coronavirus pandemic is predicted to last more than a year or so and if the prediction is proved to be correct then it is evident that we are prone to another paradigm shift soon. The inception of the new era will herald changes in states, societies, economics, religious practices and lifestyles around the world. What will this new world order look like?
• ‘Home Quarantine’ due to the Coronavirus is quickly shaping up the human habit of using ICT. For those who have long been ignorant about various mobile applications or digital communication software, will now experience the benefits of those technologies and become dependent on those more than ever before. At the same time, science will triumph once more through the discovery of the medicines and vaccines against Coronavirus, and the researchers and healthcare professionals will once again become messiahs.
• Closer of the educational institutions will allow the students and teachers to realize the opportunities offered by e-learning and distance learning systems. Future students seem to be more comfortable participating in virtual using simple virtual reality goggles at home. And in that case, investment and job opportunities are also likely to increase in this sector.
• Many are already working from home as per ‘remote office concept’ avoiding public transports and office gatherings, and resolving essential meetings or conferences through video conferencing. It hints at the wake of new office management technologies very soon. It also hints to the need for technological skills as an employee in this regard.
• The telemedicine sector has already turned the tide and is going to be invested further globally. As the patients now want to avoid the crowds, doctors are also preferring patients coming to them knowing their own diseases with the help of telemedicine.
• Looming labour crisis will lead the factory owners in examining the feasibility of using new robots as an alternative to human labour to maintain the production during the prolonged phase of pandemics. The same might happen in the call centre businesses. Customers have also started accepting the fact that a robot answering their frequently asked questions is okay. Hence, with the increase of our robot dependency, the investment in robotics will swell.
Effects on Governance
• Health risks reduction has become the top priority of any government right now. This coronavirus pandemic has exposed the health-care vulnerabilities and inadequacies of the governments. Therefore, public health-friendly governments are going to be the voters’ first choice in future.
Politicians are likely to promise greater investments in the health, science, research, medicine industry and hospital management sectors. At the same time, the demand for expertise in this sector will increase manifold.
• Nowadays, like wartimes, governments are regularly updating their people on Coronavirus issues. As a result, people’s expectations for public services are also increasing day by day. Therefore, the quality and capacity of the public services are expected to increase manifold in the new era. We shall be used to witnessing online congresses, and radical changes in elections and polling systems are also expected. Voters will now be interested in casting their votes from home using internet technology. So, in the near future, we may see different elections being held online through live polling on social media.
Effects on Global Economy
• Many of the central banks in the world are already exercising cuts on the interest rate. Until the pandemic is over it is less likely that the stock market will revive. Same will be the case for the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors. Production has almost halted all over the world, including China. RMG export orders cancellations or shipment delay notices will continue to aggravate the situation. As a result, the global recession will cause a huge employment crisis until new investments are on and production is started. Economists are already afraid to expect more than 2.5% growth in 2021; some are reluctant to expect it beyond 1.5%.
• Global supply chains are already dented due to the closure of airports and seaports. Eventually, efforts will be made to strengthen the domestic supply chains. However, the price will increase.
• Social distancing due to the pandemic is likely to increase the number of social media users and social media-based activities. Hence, online business will grow. The gap between rich and poor will continue to grow. The situation for blue-collars is going to be miserable compared to white-collars who can work from home and can afford online education for their children. However, people at home devoid of restaurant services will love to cook their own meals which will appear as a heavy blow for the restaurant business across the world.
• Like world war veterans, health workers would become the symbol of new patriotism at the end of the Coronavirus pandemic. Also, like the post-world war eras, people will discover new entertainment trends to enjoy relief after the pandemic is over. However, the political turmoil caused by the global recession will also affect the law and order, and family systems. In addition to the increased multi-dimensional crimes, the number of divorces in the society will also increase which will entail various social evils.
Finally, it is easily conceivable that due to the tremendous setbacks caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, changes in every governance, society and economy are imminent. The extent of the effect of these changes will largely depend on how well the world leaders and the states will be able to prepare themselves in line with these upcoming changes. So, let’s be aware and get ready to live in a new world order.
Major Md. Delwar Hosssain, MDS, SPP, PSC (Retd. Bangladesh army)
23 March 2020