Global policymakers and governance experts, before Covid-19 pandemic, were adamant on reiterating the stance of international writers and think tank experts including political leaders that the need of democratisation of world is of paramount importance. There were news regarding booming stock markets, climate myths, that authoritarianism is bound to fail, and God knows what not. All of this collapsed because of one issue: An invisible contagion causing global pandemic and public health emergency.
According to Chinese epidemiologists and outbreak specialists, the patient Zero is explained to have been originated before 31st December 2019, making the headlines that the outbreak and its infectious spree started long before that – probably 17th November 2019. Chinese have, so far, been praised for controlling the pandemic, but they were the ones who suppressed all the information relevant to virus. That’s the only reason we couldnt have much time and resolve to contain this pandemic – all because of media censorship and authoritarian agendas.
The main issue is that authoritarian measures have now been hailed as the role model for democratic countries to control this pandemic, despite given the fact that these same authoritarian leaders were the one in the first place to arrest doctors who publicised that a pandemic is in the making. The only reason we have all been in this situation is because of misinformation and censorship by authoritarian leaders to deal with the virus. Information was key to handling this pandemic rather than suppression and censorship.
China, however, did play significant role in controlling this deadly virus. Outbroke in Wuhan’s illegal wildlife market, China used draconian, ancient, drastic and thuggish measures in place to control pandemic. WHO has also lauded their efforts is no question mark. All of their efforts are appreciated, but they are also responsible for this global public health emergency in the first place.
Because of Covid-19, world is rapidly changing. Authoritarian leaders are hailed. Central command and control measures to tackle virus is appreciated. Mobile data and GPS tracking is considered very important. Privacy issues have been ignored. Of course when it comes to lives of important people, things evolve rapidly. Democracies are suffering and God knows what would happen once this pandemic is delayed or hopefully stopped.
Global implications of Covid-19 would be disastrous. Lets have a look.
1) Covid-19 will provide unprecedented opportunities for totalitarian leaders to give example of China as role model country in saving lives through rapid, coordinated, coercive measures and ridicule democratic institutions keeping in view Italy’s disastrous show of failure against virus. This is true but it’s half information. But media censorship and misinformation will do the job. Ignorance is the blessing for all such leaders who can play with values and social norms – the only reason populism is on the rise globally.
2) Covid-19 will have long-lasting social implications. Who knows what could happen as soon as first wave of infection is over. Fearing second wave, countries could resort to coercive enforced social distancing measures to keep extended in place in order to control people’s movements and shield economies. As evident from China, there have been surge in imported cases which has led to one local transmitted case on the fourth day of when there were no reported domestic cases registered in China.
3) Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on global economy. Stock markets are crashing. Hot monies are fleeing various markets. Currencies are falling. Because people are dying. It matters the most that consumers are the main engines of global economy. Because of lockdowns, shutdowns and public health restrictions in place, export demands have tanked globally. We have been witnessing declining profits in national exchequers of almost all countries having cases of Covid-19 infections. Other than that, besides export tanking, there has been decline in global supply chain. Borders have been closed. Trade routes have been screened and delays have been in place to monitor people’s lives and identify cases through thermal scanning. With global eruption of one tiny invisible virus, the whole world is falling apart socially, economically and politically. Leaders have been vying for protection of lives irrespective of their alliances and lenience. This is the first time all policymakers have been focused on one issue: how to control the virus irrespective of political, social and economic affiliations. Like democracies are desiring to keep in place authoritarian measures like lockdowns, shutdowns, protectionist measures, social distancing and other stringent initiatives to delay or control the spread of virus, despite their long-term rhetoric of being global champions of freedom, liberty, media freedom and freedom of movement.
4) Covid-19 has caused economic losses. Retail, wholesale distribution, eateries, restaurants, credit companies, commodity markets, airline industries, and other significant industries could need bailout packages or loans from different governments on worldwide scale. Chinese businesses have lost well and over 200billion US dollars. All other economies are expected to suffer the same. Despite significant losses to national exchequer, stimulus packages have been introduced to cope with pandemic. These packages range from 23billion US dollars in Qatar to 82billion Canadian dollars in Canada, 330billion pounds in UK to over 1trillion US dollars in the United States. These stimulus packages, once the virus issue is over, will cause countries to face ballooning debt crises, budget deficits and global economic slowdowns and recession for the years to come. Unemployement is expected to rise globally. 25 million job losses are expected. US statistics present another dim results that Covid-19 will cause 10 million job losses.
5) Covid-19 will strengthen movements for authoritarian institutes and caliphates, instead of democracies. Because of failure of Europe – the epicenter of Coronavirus outbreak – Western democracies have failed miserably to tilt the balance towards state’s trust by behavioural changes in public. It has been evident that in most democracies, even between robust democracies, gap between people and representatives is huge. This will have unprecedented consequences on policymaker’s choices and alignments in the future.
6) Coronavirus will change the face of globalisation. Populist leaders like Donald Trump will reiterate their stance that immigration and free flow of people is dangerous for health. They will introduce tarriffs and protectionist measures including strict immigrant laws in place to avoid such oubreaks in the future. Global dealings will change in absolutely never seen before conditions. Globalisation will continue to thrive despite these challenges, but we could see further rise of populist leaders and far-right and far-left policies to gain political leverage over oppositions.
7) Coronavirus has changed religious tendencies. It’s possibly the first time in the past 100 years that all religious activities have been declared suspended including Muslim gatherings in Hajj, Umrah, mosques and churches etc. Religious alliances will also change.
8) Covid-19 is an ongoing global public health emergency. Ranging from affecting political lives by providing opportunities for populist and authoritarian leaders, failed democratic institutions and failure of democracies to deal with virus in robust and coordinated manners, social lives by social distancing, lockdowns, shutdowns and maintaining 1 meter distance including no cultural salams, hugs, greeting etc, foreign policy in view that countries will resort to protectionist measures and avoid free flow of people without screening and delays etc, religious lives by changing people’s mindset towards large congregations and threats posed by such activities to their day to day lives, coronavirus is likely to have far-reaching global consequences.
World is shutting down. Economies are in recession. Businesses are closing down. Religious activities are at standstill. International travel is banned. Countries are in isolation. Far-reaching draconian measures have been in place to delay spread of virus. We can all pray to the Allah Almighty to save our planet from this deadly pandemic and allow us to bring our lives back to our new normal – not the ones we had been enjoying in the well not so before past. How is world affairs going to unfold in next few months will further expand our perusal and research focused on global implications of Covid-19 and its consequences for people and their representatives in the near future.
Shazmah Khan is a writer and expert of international relation. The views and thoughts are expresssed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect Millat Times’s editorial stance.