THE WAR WITH THE INVISIBLE ENEMY-COVID-19:
POST LOCK DOWN CHALLENGES
Dr. P. Padma Priya
Lecturer in English
Visakha Govt. Degree College(W)
The year 2020 has become the COVID year as the Corona virus affected the human life globally and has left its fatal footprint in every country. Novel Corona Virus known as COVID-19 belongs to the SARS species of Viruses. Originated in Wuhan city of China, Novel Corona virus has spread to two hundred and twelve countries or territories as per the updated data available as on 29th May 2020 and affected the lives of more than fifty-six lakhs of people worldwide and the global death toll is more than 3.5 lakhs (as per the data released by WHO). This pandemic has surfaced many challenges and threats to human life, physical and mental health, employment, economy, production and supply chains etc. It created psychological imbalances, stress and depression. All most all the countries are in lock down. Boarders are sealed. National and international travel and transportation came to a stand-still for some time. While governments are slowly stepping towards partial lockdown with gradual ease of restrictions, have to take strong measures to ensure public safety along with preparedness to cope up with these unforeseen challenges in the post lock down scenario. Life and living conditions will not be the same once the lock down is lifted.
KEY POINTS: challenges, unemployment, economy, production and supply chain, opportunities
The COVID-19 pandemic has given a glimpse of the preparedness of governments to face such epidemics and pandemics, methods and measures of crisis management and the farsightedness of policy makers of the countries world-wide. It has also exposed the lacuna in the systems and in policy making in various aspects in the countries across the world. A country like India with 138 crore population attracted the world as how it would manage the pandemic of such a magnitude. The COVID-19 has surfaced many challenges and threats to human life, physical and mental health, employment, economy, production and supply chains etc. It created psychological imbalances, stress and depression.
Novel Corona virus has created a major health threat to medical and para medical staff, cleaning and public sanitization staff, police personnel, health workers and news reporters who have more exposure to Corona patients. The pandemic is in community spread phase in countries like India and in Second Wave in countries like China. Many people are affected with mild to severe symptoms and there will be more and more asymptomatic cases. If once the lock down is lifted Social distancing will be at risk. To follow and to implement the strict social distancing is the major challenge for the general public. To ensure that people follow social distancing in public places is a major challenge before the governments. Indian government has issued standard operating procedures(SOP).
In India the pathetic situation of the migrant labourers is one of the major challenges in both the lock down and post lock down situations. Thousands of migrant workers returned to their native villages with lot of hardships. With gradual easing of lock down they will be in search of employment to eke out their livelihood mostly in their localities only. It would be more difficult to return to the previous work places as conditions would not be the same. Chances of exploitation are more in the areas where work force is more. According to Gayathri Vasudevan, Executive Chairperson and Co-Founder, labour Net “In a post lockdown world, there are going to be work deficit zones and work surplus regions. In the work surplus areas, the situation will be grim as there is going to be an abundance of returning workers with relatively higher skills, and thus the exploitation could commence” (Financial Express). Public transportation, interstate and intrastate transportation need to be addressed carefully.
One more major problem for counties across the world is to meet the challenges of unemployment. In India according to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) the unemployment rate soared up to 27.11% from below 7% before the pandemic and the imposing of lockdown. Even the United States of America is not an exception. Its unemployment rate spiked up to an approximate 20% after the Great Depression. Therefore, the focus has been shifted to alternative measures be taken to stabilize economy and the measures of welfare of the working force and the general public. There is much possibility of a steep increase in the crime rate because of the alarming increase of unemployment and lack of social security.
Many organizations particularly IT sector has rescheduled its work culture. Software companies realised that most of the work can be done from home with much comfortability which means less office space is required in the coming days. A survey confirmed that work efficiency is increased due to work from home culture. Many of companies are rethinking and rescheduling their operations systems which may result in retrenchment of employees. A million births are expected in the coming nine to ten months-a huge growth in population due the increase of sex rate during the lockdown days.
E-commerce would play a key role in the post lock down period. Production, manufacturing and supply chain need focus in the post lockdown situation. According to The Economic Times:
“Companies today have their raw material sourcing, production and distribution centres spread across the country. With much of the economy still closed (mainly in ‘red zones’), and some state governments likely to tread very cautiously when implementing resumption plans, supply chains are likely to remain frayed. Factories will have to contend with raw material challenges, labour shortages, closed dealerships and test the practicalities of working under a social distancing paradigm.” (May 7, 2020)
New challenges created new opportunities. India will emerge as the biggest manufacturer in the field of pharmaceuticals. India would be one of the new hubs for the potential markets and for the establishment of the multi-national companies in the existing global scenario. Challenges could be turned into opportunities with foresightedness, proper planning and execution. According to Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi to lose hope is unacceptable. The government policy is to convert the crisis into opportunity.
In spite of severe threat to human life posed by Corona virus air and water pollution recorded the all-time low percentages in many countries due to shut down of factories, minimisation of production and also due to general lock down. According to news agencies, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service and Copernicus Climate Change Service found that the depleted Ozone layer had healed automatically. Indian government has been spending crores of rupees on the Ganges cleaning project-Namami Gange . Ganges has become so clean and purified in the lockdown period. The agencies are testing its water for the purpose of drinking. Due to COVID -19 nature has been in the process of self-healing of which man has been destroying in the name of civilization, excessive urbanization, industrialisation and development of science and technology.
The major challenge with the world now is we have to learn to live with the Novel CORONA virus till a vaccine is prepared and produced in large scale and made available for the public. It co exists with us at each and every step. It was found that the virus has been undergoing mutations and taking tuff form and various new symptoms are gradually surfacing. Apart from the initial symptoms of dry cough, fever, breathing trouble now doctors and scientists identified vomiting, diarrhoea and discomfort in stomach in some of the Corona patients. Hence maintaining personal hygiene, social hygiene and maintaining social distance, wearing masks, hand washing in frequent intervals are the only ways to co-exist with the COVID-19 and to keep ourselves safe and healthy.
Sharma Samrat. “End of lockdown not end of trouble for migrant labour; here’s what workers may face when economy opens.” Financial Express, May 1,2020.
Varma Sonal & Aurodeep Nandi. “Policymakers need to be prepared to fight three sets of challenges post lockdown,” The Economic Times, May 7, 2020.