The more human being civilizes, towering buildings, networking world trades and waging wars with neighbours, the more serious the pandemics become, that ruins the world. Stephen Hawking was one of the most powerful minds of all times who had alerted that the human race might end up themselves because of stupidity and greed for they are not caring for the world and for being self-centred. Covid-19 seems to have evolved by human intervention in the lab. Are we facing biological warfare after the military and economic war? Big nations fought themselves to show superiority more often than their so-called cold war.
Now a little virus has locked down the world, shut down the global economy, closure of tourism and snuffed out the lives of hundreds of thousands and livelihood of millions. Pandemic is not just a natural disaster but they are caused by human activities invading the forest ecosystems, destroying homes of species and manipulating plants and animals for profits resulting hundreds of new pathogens emerged like HIV, Ebola, influenza, MERS and SARS where viruses jumped from animals to humans. Swine flu and Bird Flu spread after cramping animals in the factory. We sidelined respect to other species and kept exploring endless earth’s resources.
History witnessed serious ups and downs for mankind. While soldiers went overseas to fight a world war, virus possibly went directly from
avian to human. As human civilizations flourished, so did infectious disease. Large numbers of people living in close proximity to each other and animals, often with poor sanitation and nutrition, provided fertile breeding grounds for disease. And new overseas trading routes spread the novel infections far and wide, creating the global pandemics Covid-19. And history has been reminding such disaster since olden times. But for the grace of God, human beings probably survived as the Lord has mercy upon human beings. The earliest recorded pandemic (430BC) weakened the Athenians in their defeat by the Spartans. The Antonine Plague (165AD) claimed the Roman Emperor as its victims. People had no real understanding of contagion to fight other than avoiding sick people during Justinian Plague (541AD) which caused massive economic struggle in Europe and only people survived those have immunity. Leprosy pandemic (11th century) has resulted in the construction of hospitals in Europe. The Black Death (1350) led the British feudal system collapsed. Sailors are put in isolation thus forced quarantine had come. Following the arrival of Spanish in the Caribbean, smallpox measles (1492) caused havoc that altered the earth’s climate later for drawing more CO2 by the atmosphere.
The worst plague of London (1665) resulted in the slaughtering of cats and dogs. All public entertainment was banned and victims were forcibly shut into indoors to prevent the spread of the disease. Russian Cholera Pandemic (1817) carried by soldiers of the British Empire to the world and India faced the most casualties for repressive policies of the British during plague pandemic (1855). Measles Pandemic (1875) was carried by the British killing one-third of Fiji’s population. The avian- borne the Spanish Flu (1918) disappeared when infected had developed immunities. HIV Aids (1981) destroys the immune system and is believed to have developed from the African chimpanzee virus. SARS (2003) started with bats, spreads to cats to humans in China. Quarantine efforts proved effective for SARS, H1N1, Ebola, Zika in the past. The world has not yet learned from previous mistakes. Since people have less natural immunity due to lifestyle diseases, coronavirus threatened us. Smallpox was the first epidemic to be ended by a vaccine. Cholera is a victory for public health research in the modern world that lurked in London’s drinking water. While it has largely been eradicated in developed countries, it’s still a persistent killer in third-world countries lacking adequate sewage treatment and access to clean drinking water.
The aftermath of COVID pandemic will be huge for the world. There are millions of stranded people struck up with no way of getting anywhere else. Can India connect millions of migrants for a living? The industrial activities are closed down while infected numbers are growing rather alarmingly. Is India’s health infrastructure equipped to handle a million people while providing ICUs and ventilators? India now produces 2lakh PPE kits per day and its anti-malaria drug Hydroxychloroquine is considered to be a significant life-saver in Covid-19 treatment for the US and other countries. The world is now unable to continue with the long lockdown. The outbreak will throw the world economy into the worst recession since The Great Depression in the 1930s. With economy sinking, US Prez Trump threatens new taxes on companies that make goods outside the US. Beijing, the world leader in manufacturing might face a wave of anti-China sentiment led by the US. China has an emerging market after adopting free market economy and now the most promising investment locations for investors. Although China’s factories are resuming production, pandemic-triggered recessions and manufacturers felt pessimistic for export demand. Numbers of foreign investors are stepping out of China. Can India grab these opportunities?
The Indian MSMEs sector is the backbone of the national economic structure which is badly impacted now. Make in India initiative has the potential to revive the economy. Govt has announced Rs 20 Lakh Crore packages to revive the economy. Interestingly for India, China is the biggest trading partner. In Asia, India is one among top countries withholding maximum number (42) of Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) and Preferential Trade Agreement (PTAs). India still needs to focus on more trade agreements to boost bilateral trade. Simultaneously the world has to fight to eradicate the virus as God is punishing human race time and again for its self-destructive deeds.
Disclaimer : Views are personal
The writer is a former air warrior and currently works for SBI Dispur.