Covid-19 pandemic exposed the fault lines of a system that was poised to serve a very a few at the cost of many. While, these difficult times will pass, we are going to repeat these same mistakes if we do not build a new system on the ashes of old one. Here are some lessons we could pause and ponder over.
While these lessons are neither exhaustive nor devoid of subjectivity, nonetheless, they do give a vantage point of reimagining a new world
The system, especially crony capitalism, above all favors a few people at the cost of many who are poor not because of laziness or ill decisions but because their fair shot at dignified life was largely determined by the factors outside their control.
Place of birth, primary education, access to healthcare and housing should not be simply a matter of chance. Ensuring that every child gets these should not be lost in the debate of capitalism vs socialism. Rather, these should be included as inalienable rights enshrined in our constitution.
The need of hour is to invest in public goods and infrastructures. These need long term vision and investment which is not something five-year government plans are best suited for. These need to be enshrined in people’s agenda which can determine the trajectory of our democracy.
The pandemic has exposed how vulnerable poor, colored, and migrant workers are to the hardships of quarantine. But there are lessons to be learnt here as well. The response to this virus exposed has the national characteristics of various countries. As expected, there were protests and rallies in France. Americans, ever suspicious of government agencies, were out on the roads demanding haircuts and spa.
Thus, it makes sense to have an international charter which will determine the nature and response of government in face of such global disasters. For too long we have let this happen without holding nations accountable for their shoddy mistakes which brought this pandemic in the first place.
Lastly, we can see not all is lost. The sight of wild animals roaming free on the streets has kept us glued to social media. Mother nature is reclaiming what is rightfully hers. While we may go back to our old working economy, can we re-imagine a new one which is more harmonious with the nature? Nimble, flexible, sustainable and entails a humane way of working, benefiting all stakeholders.
The difficult times beckons us a chance to rebuild a resilient tomorrow, but it does not lend itself to the solutions. It cracks open the system fault lines, but it will not mend itself. Change means uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to anxiety and paralysis. But it also extinguishes any hope for a better tomorrow. Let us not waste this historic moment to usher in a change for a better tomorrow.