Restoration of economy in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic

Khelsoril Wanbe
Imphal West, Manipur

Now we are well into the second half of year 2020 but life is still passing through an extremely abnormal and dangerous time. The pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the entire humankind. Besides the fact that the pandemic has caused deaths of hundreds of thousands the world over, the daily life of the people who are still surviving has become lethargic and monotonous except for those who are in the frontline of the fight against the dreaded virus. Particularly, medical workers and law enforcing personnel are having tough nightmarish time as the ever-rising number of infected cases has multiplied their workload and they themselves have become highly vulnerable and easy prey to the virus. We hear and read the news of rising number of infection among doctors, nurses, and security personnel. Their exposure to the dreaded disease is very high as they have to -- all the time -- deal with people of all kinds. All those of them who are strictly observing their professional ethics must be having a hell of a time. This is the time when the medical workers are generally making their greatest contribution to humankind although occasionally some doubts do arise in the minds when we hear of stray bizarre incidents/cases happening far and near in the world involving death and suffering due to negligence and indifference of the saviours. 

COVID-19, being a novel disease, is unpredictable and paradoxical in nature, making it very disconcerting. It has infected millions, and millions have recovered; simultaneously it has also killed huge number of people. It also appears to be discriminatory as it is said to be merciless to the aged and the frail. Yet, it has also killed youthful human beings who are in their 20s, 30s or even younger. Its deceptive nature has misled millions into believing that it is a mild and benign virus, sparing the lives of millions. The high recovery rate of the infected has taken thousands of unwary people by surprise and has snuffed the lives of hundreds of thousands across the globe. At any given place where it arrives, people initially do not take it seriously. Like a wily serpent, it gently benumbs its preys and begins to take its toll. We have seen the worst hit countries like the US, Brazil, Italy where people initially didn’t seem to believe it could really kill. Then it started killing thousands upon thousands.  Besides killing, it has generated myriad inconveniences and impediments to all kinds of human activities. Few human beings have of course made billions of dollars during this pandemic lockdown time. The likes of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Mukesh Ambani, Elon Musk and a handful others have been able to make the most of the universally adverse economic circumstances, and they have managed to make billions of dollars in a very short period.  

On the other hand, unemployment and poverty are staring right in the face of hundreds of millions of people in most of the countries of the world. The fabulously rich, each of whose individual fortune must be equal to that of hundreds of millions of people, might be sardonically smiling at how millions of less gifted and less intelligent are struggling to survive in this economically difficult time. It is, of course, true that, in more or less, economically and politically liberalised countries like USA and India, there is complete freedom to carry on with any kinds of legalised business to limitless extent. Our mixed economy in which there is free competition for all, the best and the cleverest can make and amass limitless amount of wealth and fortune. Once a person becomes extremely rich, he definitely begins to wield and exert enormous political power and influence. Everybody knows what money can do in this world. 

Nevertheless, notwithstanding the enormous influence that money can exert on many areas of human activities, it is the mandated power and responsibility of the peoples’ representatives to see to it that the ultra-rich do not infringe upon politics and policymaking that have direct bearings on the lives of the ordinary millions. In a democracy, political power ultimately belongs to the people.  Eradication of corruption, optimal reduction of unemployment problem, and maximum alleviation of poverty, provision of cheap education to the mass etc should be at the top of the priority list of those at the helms of power. On our part, as citizens of the country, we need to repose our faith and confidence in our representatives, who are in the corridors of power, to fulfil their promises and manifesto. As just mentioned above, the ultimate power to choose the rulers of the land rest with the multitudes. It is fortunate that a bigger percentage of the population is consisted of the youth. India is not an aging country like many in the world; it is a youthful nation. Indian youth are intelligent, smart and capable of keeping pace with the rapidly changing world. This fact has been brilliantly demonstrated, time and again. I hope that India will come out victoriously of the present chaotic economic and social circumstances whipped up by COVID-19. India in alliance with other friendly nations of the world will strive to restore the economic and political landscape of the world. The youth of the nation have a pivotal role to play in framing their own destiny. With courage and confidence, they need to forge ahead into the future. There should not be concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few. Favourable circumstances and environment need to be created for the teeming hundreds of millions of youth to thrive politically and economically. The state has to play a huge role in formulating conducive economic policies and programmes that will provide equal opportunities to all the people, and prevent the rise of economic or business monopolies that will smother healthy competition and hinder the progress and success of the hundreds of millions of youth who are struggling to rise. 

Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy and everything is in shambles. The restoration of our economy will depend largely on the grit and guts of the youth to whom the future belongs. It is going to take a lot of innovation, creativity and adjustment to survive and to thrive in this world of intense competition. With regard to extreme monopoly and concentration of excessive economic power in the hands of the few mega rich, the power that be should closely monitor and study how mega companies are operating and intervene whenever the people are likely to be at the receiving end.