When The Dust Settles!


Veera is a published Author (‘Endured’ and ‘#LoveBitesLifeHacks’) and Columnist; a passionate Educator and Counsellor; Poet and Philosopher… but most of all, a lover of all things literary. 


And suddenly, just like that, our world has changed! Admittedly, we were all caught unawares. Nothing seemingly relevant or significant other than the Meghan-Harry debacle with the Royal family, some other  news headlines skimping our attention as they generally do… and then the month of February, some reports of a cluster of pneumonia cases in the central city of Wuhan started catching the world’s attention. As the ripple of COVID-19 careened around the globe, it forced us to change the way we live, work and play in a span of months. 

For the moment, our new reality seems a chapter from a sci-fi novel. We have taken it on the chin, standing, waiting on  the threshold for all of it  to end, almost anticipating walking on that same path of normal just as we did a couple of months ago. Placated with the vague hope that though the last couple of months have been moderately rough, while we stayed indoors, the future may flow with the same calm and sense of comfort, once we make our way back to the outdoors. 

This year, 2020 – the winter will be a long time going! The world will emerge out of the crisis in time, but has this crisis have been wasted upon us? That will decide our tomorrows. What we take away from it as responsible nations, governments, professionals, citizens and individuals will create our future. Again, the paradox here – there is a number of possible futures, somehow all dependent on how governments and society respond to this pandemic and its economic aftermath. Hopefully, we may use this crisis to rebuild, restructure and create something better, but the unease of sliding into something worse could also be a possibility.

New choices will have to be made across broad spectrums of life. 2020 will be remembered as the year of unbelievable chaos and catastrophe, but also the year that heralded in a decade of change and transformation that changed the way humankind lived in and viewed the world. 2020 may well be the decisive present moment in history that charters in an era of change. Today, we stand at the threshold – anxious and panicked – but sooner or later, we will have to awaken from this stupor, this complacency, and acknowledge that each one of us is accountable. 

The world today has joined forces like never before. Large swathes of the world are collaborating on shared projects with equal measure of coercion and nudging, all the while maintaining that two-metre distance that is the prerequisite of the day. Today, our news talks of a single global entity enemy in the COVID-19 virus; we are done discussing war, religion and politics at least for the moment. It’s not just the size and speed of what is happening that’s dizzying, it’s the fact that we were caught off-guard, unprepared. It’s undoubtedly scary to see how governments and democracies are battling and seem incapable of making big moves quickly enough, or at all.

There was a time, not too long ago, when we were impressed with touch-screens and all that they enabled us to do. Now, with an increase in people wanting to limit what they touch, an option to pay for goods and services that do not require any physical contact is likely to gain traction. We could perhaps expect a surge in voice and machine vision interfaces, recognizing faces, retinas, gestures to limit the amount of physical contact.

COVID-19 has relegated professionals to working from home. A post-COVID world may force our collective hand to find digital solutions to keep all aspects of our lives working – whether studies, fitness, consultations, meetings and more, all under our shelters! We are already seeing the power of data in a pandemic world, how we monitor our future by using the IOT (Internet Of Things), technology and Big Data is to be seen. National and global apps are already in place – take our very own Aaryogya Setu App, implemented to show early warning system to report and track, who is showing symptoms of an outbreak, or who the exposed people have been and who they have interacted with, to show contagion. 

The skies have partially opened with domestic flights operational, but passengers mandatorily need both a ticket and the App to board a flight. Tele-medicine with video calls, and other remote care, enables clinical services without an in-person visit. Online shopping, digital conferencing and events – that is the way moving forward, like E-Sport – just e-versions of sports – like an F1 car racing on television giving one a sports outlet. Unlike mainstream sporting events, e-sporting events can easily transition online. We will soon see a more hybrid sports coverage where physical events are complemented with digital offerings. Increased reliance on robots, artificial intelligence may prove to be ideal partners to accelerate and complement human endeavours. 

Any glance at history reveals that crises and disasters have continually set the stage for change. While the global flu epidemic of 1918 helped create national health services in many European countries, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 saw government surveillance of citizens exploding. Crises shape history and the study of crises often reveals the fundamental reality of society or a community. Who has more and who has less, just where the power lies, how corrupt are the systems and administrations… What do people treasure and what do they fear? How quickly, effortlessly and efficiently can the government meet the needs of its people at the grass root level? 

But, disasters and emergencies, most importantly, throw light on the world as it is. They rip the fabric of normality and through the gaping hole that opens up, we glimpse possibilities of other worlds and realities. To move forward we may have to assume responsibilities for our own emotional history and experience of life. We may have to disregard false beliefs that have kept us in life-constricting situations and roles for so long. To do so may not be easy, but reality and truth need to co-exist. 

So then, where will we be six months, a year, or ten years from now? Will we fly in those supersonic, humungous, giant air carriers or can you visualise a tiny flying pod equipped to transfer you cross continents or oceans! The dust will settle and so shall we, into a world of myriad future possibilities. The world may recover, the weather may clear, your temporarily suspended flight may take-off, but the fear will persist longer than we may choose to admit.

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