The deaths in China remains a speculation and assessments are being made on the basis of the number of cell phone and landline connections which are no more.
By Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd)
The Corona Virus has put the world in a reboot and reset mode. While it happened in Wuhan, life was as usual across the globe, everyone kept moving with occasional news of the sealing of the town and videos showing the Ghost Town of Wuhan with zero activity. The deaths in China remains a speculation and assessments are being made on the basis of the number of cell phone and landline connections which are no more. What seemed to be an innocuous virus with low kill probability rate has brought all activities to a grinding halt. The global and domestic stock markets took a hit and wealth vanished, the rich survive while the middle class and the low-income group are worried about the future.
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While the Governments are struggling to fine-tune a balance between saving lives and the Economy, the US and Europe did not lose time to up the ante with China. China stepped up its relief operations and was quick to send relief material across the globe. India too has reached out to China for COVID 19 related PPEs, blood test kits and KN 95 masks.
This is the time when international relationships will be reset. While the US is reportedly paying for its manufacturing industry to shift base back to the US, India needs to step up its diplomatic efforts in reaching out to Germany, USA, Japan and South Korea as a viable alternative to China with a minimum cost of relocation.
The Chinese will continue to be belligerent with its modernised armed forces, creation of Marine Expeditionary Forces self-contained, for interventions in the prominent sea lanes of communications. The creation of bases in the region has not been challenged. The naval forces of the region to include India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand along with the US needs to create a viable challenge to Chinese domination.
The US has its presidential elections, the Corona Pandemic and the re-election has shifted the US attention from the Global Superpower to its domestic politics. The Chinese and the Russians will use this opportunity to gain space in the international arena to gain their dominance in the Middle East and Africa. OBOR will have to be contested by the US and its limited allies like the US President’s yoyo approach to issues from seizing moments of opportunity for political gains.
The Pandemic has led to a blood bath in the oil prices, as the world has near-zero consumption of oil as everything has been shut down. Given that this has enabled nature to clear up the smog and give the living creatures of the planet a chance to breathe clean air; the world needs to think seriously on the renewable energy options. Wind, Solar, Eco-Generators working on Electro Magnetic Fields to be commercialised and the nexus of the Fossil Fuel lobby needs to be dismantled with a heavy hand.
India too needs to come up with a viable plan to break out of the deadlock due to the virus. The virus is here to stay and the humans will either develop immunity or as per the law of nature perish. Does this mean we sit back and let events unfold for themselves? The answer is No. This is the time the politicians and the bureaucracy have to step up and make sure that the majority of the citizens are helped out by provisioning the essentials. The economic activity must start and people have to develop the art of social distance. The work from home has functioned very well and the corporates need to continue to do so. The manufacturing industries need to either go fully robotic / ensure the norms spelt out by the government.
These are difficult times and the majority of the citizens had shown considerable self-discipline. The States need to audit the migration of rural people to the cities. The workforce has to be audited and its Quality and not numbers, those employed should be paid well. The Government has to spur job creation in the Tier II / III cities. Not create concrete jungles. Corona Virus has brought about the importance of social distancing and hence the Urban Affairs Ministry along with the Department of Town and Country Planning needs to focus on this as a stipulated norm.
Lastly, we as informed citizens need to take the bull by the horn. Take precautions, carry on with day to day activities. Two / three per cent of the people mainly in the age bracket of 60 and above are worst affected if suffering from other diseases. Its nature’s way of culling the infirm and the weak and releasing them from their suffering, for the balance let’s remember no one is getting out alive, live on and enjoy what you have, do your duty and not worry the outcome.
(The author is Indian Army Veteran. Views expressed are personal.)