The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, involving as it does far too many variables. The very complexity of the novel coronavirus leads to radical uncertainty. Hence, it unlikely that the world will ever be the same again. Abnormal could well become the new normal.
Pandemics have often changed the world and reshaped human society. Empires have collapsed. Commentators are already talking of fundamental alterations in governance and business norms. What is left unsaid — and likely to pose an even bigger challenge — is the extent to which the pandemic will impact human values and conduct. There is already concern that a diminution in human values could occur, and with this, the concept of an international community might well cease to exist. Each nation is tending to look inwards, concentrating on its narrowly defined national interests.
Institutions under fire
It is singularly unfortunate that at a time like this, existing international institutions such as the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council, and the World Health Organization (WHO) are seen to have failed to measure up to the grave challenge posed by the pandemic.
While the UN Security Council is under attack for being slow in dealing with a situation that appears, at least on the surface, far graver than any military threat in recent decades, WHO has been tarred with the charge of bias and of grossly underestimating the nature of the epidemic. That prestigious global institutions should have been singled out for attack at this time speaks volumes about the mood prevailing across the world.
There are many other aspects of the COVID-19 crisis that will drastically impact the globe. On the economic front, the World Bank has already predicted negative growth for most nations. India’s growth forecast for the current fiscal year has been put at 1.5% to 2.8%. Contraction of the economy and the loss of millions of jobs across all segments will further complicate this situation.
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