Even as I muster enough courage to share with you; as I see the things- as they unfold- by the time I complete this article, there will be more hundreds of positive cases across the world- most of these people will survive and few of them will not be able to make it through it! This senseless loss of lives, coupled with an economic crisis unlike ever before- is in a way preparing humanity for something, that we have never been ready for and in all probability, every few years these instances may come back haunting with different scales and intensities as the world tries to re-adjust to a new order- An economic and geo-political order! This quick piece is to try and imagine how the next few months will unfold and possibly provide an anchor hold so that we know which way to steer the ship of our lives as we begin to move!– So let’s go!
By the time I am writing this article, China from where all this began, is already more or less back to normal- which implies that production lines are buzzing, people are working and it is a normal day in the nation! Well, I don’t have anything personal against them (apart from the tense diplomatic connect that India and China have always had), but being an Indian we need to take care and watch our neighbors! This pandemic is a classic case wherein a neighbor decided to do “pest” control which has gone horribly wrong and who these “pests” are; perhaps only time will tell- or may be the world may never know! So as the instance moved ahead- the global community saw the initial stages as an internal matter of China and felt relaxed –To an extent that even WHO took time to go through the processes of definition – whether it should be an epidemic or a pandemic and by the time all these great leaders and wise people with all the cutting edge resources at their disposal realized what was unfolding- it was too late and eventually every member state of the UN finally has been hit by this pandemic! 194 nations have confirmed cases on their territories! This scale has never been the case earlier ever in recorded human history! This brings us to the next stage- The Lock Down
The concept of lock down is not new, during wars this is the first step that every nation will initiate so that all available national resources of a nation are used for the defence or for attacking the other nation as the case may be! Makes sense- but with this pandemic – this decision- kept getting delayed- we may never know why!- and even as people were aware – to a reasonable extent that the virus was very aggressive and contagious with a greater affinity to the older or medically compromised population– nothing was done to flag it off- just imagine- with the first cases coming to light somewhere as early as December- even until March second week- international flights were operating! I mean which world leading organisation in the right frame of mind would not have instructed the IATA and ICAO to ground all airlines worldwide in February 2020 itself? Why drag it to such a point. To add to this- This initial delay also cascaded into allowing communities within nations to roam around their land- with no concern and it was these two basic acts of neglect and disregard that have brought the world order to the stage where we are today! The lock downs also as matter of scientific validation are effective only when they are done with some reason- like cases being reported from an area may be a borough, town or a city- in those cases lock down makes sense- but when you have not been able to manage a planned approach- panic sets in (even if you are a government) and you will take irrational steps which translate into nation wide lock downs! These in turn end up doing more damage economically – which far outweigh what the Virus could have done even in a worst case scenario! Especially when the Virus has a mortality rate less then 3%! Stage is set for the next step- The Meltdown!
Even before the pandemic set in the world all across- was jittery with massive trade wars compromising and threatening billions of dollars in the global market, with workers being laid off on an ongoing basis in developing worlds and with this getting more and more unpredictable , it was perhaps time that the world was racing ahead towards an economic re-boot! The whole promise of digital economy, again a core element of the global narrative (don’t forget digital money is no real money- it is just an electronic interface which is showing you a number which is being honored as long as the state is allows it!)and its aggressive push was always looking out for a big and bad excuse and this instance happens to be a perfect alibi! Confused- well, let me keep it simple- right now- if all citizens of any nation were to Q up and decide to withdraw all their money at one go , same time- any and every nation will simply fail as it will never have those many paper bills to provide everyone with what is being withdrawn! It is as simple and complicated as this! So what we can now expect in the days and months ahead? well read on…
The Meltdown stage will see many rapid developments, based on the laws of each nation- one common thread that you will eventually see coming out after this carnage will be that every sector (any sector for that matter) will be left with lesser then 5 or maximum 10 global players for those sectors. These will be the ones’ who will decide how they will shape their products and services from their respective zones and align them to the new ways that already have been planned by respective governments- most of them will wear a cloak of opaque transparency- you will be able to see only if you know what to look for! These business arrangements will then be the foundational step of humankind as a global community starts to play role to the larger conformity bias of the new developed and evolving societal order and those who will be found to be outliers will either be ejected or eliminated and that’s for sure- the people running these systems will want to run the way they have planned it and irrespective of the government’s will have and have always had the power to over-ride and manipulate governments the world over!These large scale behavioral changes brought about in human societies across will tend to shift focus of people from being the careless consumers that we have been for some time now to more mindful and responsible consumers- so as the dip in consumption happens- we will move into a space of rising costs of services and products- to meet custom needs and infrequent purchases! How this gets played out will depend on the type of government that each nation has-more importantly in the garb of the pandemic- almost all nations have executed their own acts which in turn have given immense powers to the government of the day and power- is a double edged sword! During this stage of Meltdown- Human behavior will see alterations like never before- remember these lockdowns have been closer to 21 days and 21 days is the magic number to alter human habits- people will end up being more anxious- stress prone- resilient- calmer- aggressive- confident- depressed- all of these and many more such hues will emerge depending on how an individual is placed within a start of the society and what is the intrinsic strength that one has to deal with these global showdowns! Towards the end of the meltdown- when the conqueror and the vanquished become clear on the horizon- the remnants of this episode will begin to piece together the path ahead and it will be the proverbial Rising on the Phoenix that will follow next…
The proverbial rising of the Phoenix will be slow, planned and designed to ensure that only those who qualify to be within the scheme of the things will be held on to- others who have not been able to conform to certain standards will be left out to defend for themselves ( In this will lie the seeds of the next great global crisis!). In the following months, people will want to naturally break free and travel (because that will be the natural psychological trigger – which will help people again believe that they gain have regained control- there will be surging rush to travel (but all these travels will be majorly restricted to domestic arenas) and even as airlines companies merge and continue to be on borrowed time- as it were- the initial three- six months will see this- the really challenge will start after that as few sectors will be buyout- globally- which will be finance, travel, wellness, healing, spiritual tourism,tourism and hospitality- leaving these aside practically everything to do around the consumer side- whether it is the FMCG or the FMCD or even the Automobile sectors will all see a downward spiral with an apparent no end to their crisis- A criss which has on a way of their own making! Workers will have to make a choice to either seek monetary security and give up on aspirational attributes and agree to live life in a prescribed manner or create affluence by being a disruptor and challenge the establishment on an ongoing basis. Apart from this self-employed and the business class will have toe sure they remain agile and nimble for overcoming all and any challenges that may come up (which will indeed) with unpredictable speed and timing– this will be vital as businesses will be then necessitated to comply to fall and align with specific groups and sub-groups of the new business order (which will be sold to them as the the concept of “ease of business”) Altered behaviors will create a further rift between the affluent elements and class of the society and the deprived and the so- called middle income group will have to take call to either move upwards or decide to stay low! The whole world will seemingly move to a two class society based on economic affluence! Compound this with growing digitisation through digital currency and digital surveillance (which will be told is necessary because of what has happened) will be the final nail in the coffin of individual liberties world-wide and whether the governments of the day say it or not- Big Brother will always be watching you! I won’t dig deeper into this aspect because it will take us to another topic – which we will discuss some other day or other time!
I will cut my thoughts here for now, but the key takeaways, are somewhere mentioned above and hidden away in plain sight for you to think further and reflect upon; based on who you are what is that you want to alter, how and why and ensure that you will be able to stay relevant for the times ahead! This pandemic was the excuse that the member states were waiting for a re-boot- a re-boot to set new rules of engagements with each other and flex muscles at that level. Needless to say, we will be impacted at the levels where we are and we will need to choose how we flex and make the most of the emerging stations without breaking or exhausting ourselves- intellectually, emotionally and physically!
Given the limitations of a blog; I will leave you here with these thoughts for now, grab a drink and see how you lived through the Lockdown- how the Meltdown is impacting you and How you are preparing for the phase when the Phoenix begins to rise over your horizon and what you will do about it to ensure you ride the right wave and stay afloat for long times to come and prepare yourself for the next crisis- which at this very moment is being developed! More on that some other time!
Ciao for now, Stay at Home, Stay Safe, Always keep Social Distancing and importantly stay wise and don’t get killed by dumbness! Will catch up soon with another piece!