By Vivek Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, April 1, 2020: Miasma created by COVID 19 has simply flummoxed the entire world starting from the professional community of medical scientists, pathologists, virologists, epidemiologist , public health experts, microbiologists and treating doctors to the body of politicians, policy makers, public servants, administrators and functionaries of international organizations encompassing the most advanced big five countries in the world and also the most leading contributors to the UN system.

The entire world practically is under an unprecedented lockdown, and how long this would continue and when it would return to normalcy still remains unpredictable. It has severely hurt air transport, tourism, travel trade and hospitality sector. With disruption of rail traffic and road transport it has severely affected the trade, business and commerce within the countries and the continents. The harrowing state of migrant workers making their journey home on foot carrying their belongings on their back and their young kids crawling during marathon journey in the heat of summer like climate simply is heart-rendering.

Outbound tourism from India will be affected for a long period mostly to Europe especially to Italy, France, Spain, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Netherlands and Belgium. Even the south east Asia will be an accursed destination from India. Air transport connectivity to India was in the cusp of visible growth with India hoping to take the pride of position among the first five countries in the world. It is now doubtful whether that dream can be realized soon.

Rise of unemployment in last five to six years was a great concern in India. Now with lockdown it will be exacerbated further. The most painful is that daily wage earners, the poorest of the poor in the society will be the worst sufferers. Salaried class and those who garnered savings would manage the lockdown but their savings through stocks have declined in value dramatically. The banks in India due to NPAs, and fraudulence are not healthy.

The saving interest rate having declined it would affect lower middle class. As regards short term and medium-term deposits there is no hopeful sign of better interest rate in future. The central bank may reduce repo rate, increase liquidity in the market and take other monetary measures but what relief it would give to the common man is a question mark. Value of the savings through deposits will plummet. Life of most of the people particularly elderly have been disrupted as they do not have easy access to market and banks. The senior citizens who are not adept in ICT cannot do online banking or resort to online orders for their daily essentials.

Exports were under decline and it will be further going down visibly with nationwide shut down. Imports will also decline. Rupee has reached the historic low. What impact it will have on the current account deficit or trade deficit it will be known soon. The Indian stock market collapsed so did the global market.

The Indian GDP is now forecast by Moody, the rating agency at 2.5%.

Although oil price has now declined nobody can predict what OPEC and USA will do to the market in future. Fiscal deficit will increase.
Globally, the devastation the pandemic has caused to USA, Italy, Spain, UK, France ,and Germany ,practically the most of Europe, the economies of the Western world would face recession worse than 2008.US Federal Reserves and European Central Bank have announced reliefs of various nature. It is doubtful whether it would produce immediate effect as the scare of the pandemic has far reaching psychological impact on the people who drive the economy. India cannot escape this global debilitating environment.

Politically, in India issues like CAA, Article 370, Ajodhya, destabilization of governments by change of political affiliations and nomination to the upper house have all been washed away by the fear of this pandemic. The central government and State governments must work hard in coordination without political bickering to prevent the spread of the disease and focus on saving of lives. The onus lies on the governments to ensure that this exodus of migrant workers from the cities do not create unacceptable and indefensible situation in the rural areas which do not have adequate hospital facilities. Otherwise, any further deterioration would have severe economic impact even reaching the agricultural sector.

In the world political leaders will have massive loss of credibility. People of the developing countries will lose confidence over the ability of the administration and health system of the developed countries. If disease is contained in India, the respect for the country will go up in the eyes of rest of the world. China has contained the disease for now but that it originated from there with so many deaths would have impact on reputation of China. There would be incalculable loss of faith among the people of the world about the integrity of the Chinese system. China will work hard to rebuild its image in the West. Whether its ambitious BRI will make any further progress in Europe is highly doubtful. If the Chinese economy swings back, and recovers quickly for which it also needs the Western market, China must make substantial investment in rebuilding the economies of those countries.

In the present pandemonium of pandemic, people rush to resort to blame game not sparing also WHO, the international organization who is credited with formulation of International Health Regulations which are in place since 2005.International Civil Aviation Organization has also framed regulations. One is amazed how the developed countries did not make plans and prepare themselves to face the onslaught of this virus. Age old methods like isolation, quarantine and closure of institutions could have been followed before community transmission. Knowledge regarding this epidemic was in the public domain for quite some time although it was declared as pandemic only later.

Complacency is a new malady in the West when advisory or regulations originate from an international body. USA has not learnt from 9/11.Basically, it was an aviation security lapse as the prescribed international civil aviation regulations were not applicable to the domestic American airports as the Americans thought their standards are better than international standards.

Even now time is there to fight by regional and global cooperation and coordination. SAARC video conference was a good initiative and similarly, G20 conference was an excellent follow-up. If nations start believing in international institutions, international cooperation will produce wonders.

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