- Will it be a scary world to live in?
- Will it transform the way we live completely?
- Will there be new opportunities not been thus far?
While it is anybody’s ‘guess’ to predict future for certain, here are some thoughts that come to my mind. You may add comments and share your opinion to the post for the benefit of me and other readers.
I would like to analyse these in different aspects such as:
UNCERTAINTY – We currently have a lot of uncertainty. Early on, most people thought the pandemic would last for a month or a little more. But we have seen much more. At this time, the virus is showing no signs of reducing. Neither in the volume of confirmed cases, nor of the deaths from the confirmed and unconfirmed (untested for the virus) cases. We do not know if it will be months before it could be contained, or as some doctors predict if it could be two years for it go away fully.
Vaccine – there is also uncertainty on a good, will work for sure vaccine development although advanced testing is already happening in some parts of the world.
Treatment – there is even more uncertainty on the medication and treatment protocols, while a limited amount of success has been observed in some cases.
Economy – there is uncertainty on revival of world economy and extent of recession that developed countries will go into.
Social – for the immediate, we also have uncertainty over when our social living will come back to normal, with governments extending lockdowns again and again.
While we are where we are, I can see some major transformation post this critical and never-been-like period. All major events be it a world war, an independence to a country, or the head of a family suddenly dying at young age, will always have a major impact on the affected community. This pandemic being the worst of all, we will see even more effect.
A. Political – China has already become a world power to reckon with, even so than the erstwhile USSR of my times. With the President of USA and few other countries blaming China for all the nuisance it has created to the world. It is interesting to note however that Europe itself is divided on the opinion. During the critical time such as this, with Mr. Trump declaring America first (as his priority) and not wanting to consider helping Europe now, whereas China is sending large quantities of needed medical/protective equipment and medicines to European countries, some countries are actually thankful to China. Even the head of European Union was publicly appreciative of China for the help extended. World recognises today that significant products needed for them were provided by China, The World is dependent on China for the day to day sustenance, at least until a new economy develops. And this is surprisingly true even for India, for which country its first prime minister declared, India will make from pins to planes and be self reliant nation.
- China vs US – After the pandemic it is possible that European Union will have stronger alliances with China than with US. If that happens, then it is only a matter of very short time before China becomes the most powerful country in the world, not only by economy (which it already is per some published statistics now), but also as a World Power Head. But currently, Europe is divided on its opinion about China.
- Smaller Cartels – It is also possible that world would take cognisance of not only the current virus but some of the past pandemics were from China. Countries might focus on self reliance through small cartels. We might see several smaller unions that are closely knit in the world. China may lose considerable revenue through its ‘World’s Factory’ exports and will focus on developing cutting technologies.
- India as a major Economy – India could grow even more, taking some share of the exports lost by China. India could focus even more in the ‘Make in India’ policy, and revive the ambition of its first prime minister to be a self reliant nation.
- Global Power through Technology and Money – World might realise that power is acquired based on technical capability, not through the strength of army and defence. Also, we could see a world where dominance is obtained through wealth than nuclear capabilities.
B. Health – this could become a major focus area for a country’s strategy planning. National Health may have lot more funds allocated in a nation’s budget. We will see lot of new infrastructure and policies in this direction.
- Dedicated Centers for Viral Epidemics – Governments have realised that current infrastructure in healthcare isn’t equipped enough to handle contagious epidemics. Patients with highly contagious diseases will need to be treated in isolation from rest of the people. So governments could probably dedicate some hospitals or at least some wards of bigger hospitals to treat patients with highly contagious diseases. Governments would not like to leave these to the profit oriented private hospitals who could not be monitored for proper process compliance for treatment. So such wards or hospitals will be in the public sector only.
- Disciplines dedicated to Severe Viral Infections – it is possible that a specialisation will emerge from current Internal Medicine discipline. This will enable health professionals to develop deeper skills in handling epidemics. By the predictions of some in the health sector, particularly those dealing with environmental factors and effect on health, World will see more epidemics in future. This they say is bound to happen with human encroaching forests and animals are not in isolation with human communities. Changing food habits wanting to try newer animal based delicacies could further influence the situation. With such a society, it will become necessary to develop deeper skills in medicine to deal with the calamities.
C. Financial – there is enough noise already indicating a severe recession particularly for the US and Europe, who have been most affected. This will also affect individuals at a personal level.
- World Economy – US already has a lot of commerce lost owing to the pandemic. With increasing unemployment over 22 million, it has deep holes to fill in the next one year at the minimum. Brazil which was already struggling with its economy, has been worsened even more with the forced lockdown. It will be unable to pay its debts and is seeking bail outs by the European Union. Italy has been destroyed with its health sector in dole-drums. Germany, UK and few others who were other strong economies in the Europe have reduced forecasts for their economy for the rest of the year. Even China with relatively smaller virus spread considering the size of its population has been severely affected by the lacklustre exports situation. Its GDP for the quarters has even forecast a negative, since decades. And when larger economies get impacted, the smaller ones who are dependent on developed nations will also have severe economic impact irrespective of their virus spread or lockdown situation.
- Personal Finance – While we will see lot of changes to the world economy, it is possible that some sections of the population will see a need to be prepared at all times for adverse situations such as this. People will do well to maintain some liquid funds at all times. Some investments into public money may see a reduction in immediate future.
- Reduction of Interest Rates – Quoting the need to give impetus to economy, governments could further reduce federal rates; India included. Individuals could do well to part some of their funds into bank fixed deposits with a longer term to lock in the current rates of interest. They could do even better to short close their current deposits if maturing shortly and renew for longer periods to make the best of current interest rates.
D. Social – I think the society will become even more nuclear based living. Having lived successfully during the lock in period with minimal physical interaction, after a short burst immediately after the lock down is released, they could go back to some of the habits developed during the lock in period.
- More Family Time – Some members may continue doing household chores and support their spouses. Children and Parents with their deepened relationship during this period, will continue spending time together. Some parents may increase helping kids with their studies at home. This period would have taught many things to many people.
- Work from Home – with no apparent reduction in productivity as established during the lockdown period, companies and managers will be more liberal with their employees working from home.
- No Restaurant Food – although it has not been established that food could contribute to spreading the virus, many people are apprehensive of eating food outside, even so having them at restaurants. We may see less foot fall in restaurants and an increase in home deliveries. We could see changes in food hygiene maintenance to assure safe food for netizens.
E (i) IT Infrastructure – we are likely to see some changes to infrastructure in most countries after the pandemic. Nations have to rebuild their economy and will look forward to taking a more holistic view rather than cost based alone. The kind of infrastructure built by countries would vary by nation.
- IT Infrastructure – we will see a surge in facilities to provide a much stronger IT infrastructure, not only to the forecast developments in the world currently such as Artificial Intelligence, 5G, 3D Printing etc., but also to support even more strongly for potential epidemics and pandemics. IT will be much more distributed than currently is in under developed or developing countries.
- ROM Software and China Dominance – With China becoming technologically even stronger, we might see more products from them with built Chinese software. Any updates will be pushed as patches. With stronger integrated products from China, world may see less of custom development of software. Inadequate English language could no longer be a constraints for the Chinese with such products which are self maintained.
- Reduced Dependence on India by World – with the reduction in need for custom software, world may use less of Indian IT companies. This will push India to leverage its strong software skills to build software products and/or support Make-in-India products with ROM (Read Only Memory) software integrated with the hardware product.
E (ii) Other Infrastructure – Governments will see the risks of thickly populated urban cities. While urbanisation helps provide infrastructure at a low cost, this pandemic will show the risks of not having a distributed community.
- Geographically Distributed Infrastructure – There could be impetus to develop smaller yet distributed communities with full infrastructure. There could be policies that restrict size of cities (and thus influence number of populations living in a single city). Villages would be equipped to do many things that today we do from cities. This could also be welcomed by the climate control torch bearers.
- Less Vehicles and Pollution – with lesser need to travel, we could see a reduction of number of vehicles on the road. People will do short travel for commute or work from home when possible.
- Growth in Drones – we might see drones doing physical deliveries. While this may increase some air pollution and traffic in the sky, increased automation on safety and larger open spaces will allow for easier and vehicular accident free deliveries.
OPPORTUNITIES – Like every other transformation, I feel very strongly that something very good will come out of this pandemic phase. That is not to say, I am encouraging severe pandemics, but just that I strongly opine there will be good times, as a result. World will surely bounce back. When it does so, it will do so faster than we could predict. Some of my thoughts on this are below.
- Infrastructure – this will have to be the biggest of the outcomes. All those projects which were suspended, will resume anyway, but there will be opportunities for more.
- Decentralisation – as cities will be directed towards lessening the population density, more smaller urban centres would come up. At least for India, this got to be the future. So more opportunities to build new stuff. It is said that when Chicago downtown was burned down fully during a summer, it gave opportunities for architects around the world to come to Chicago and build a beautiful city with varied architecture. That is why one would see different types of buildings in Chicago when compared to other cities in the US.
- Real Estate Shift – the real estate in cities, at least in India may see some continued downward trend after picking up a little from where it left. But there could be newer developments in other regions. Thanks to strong IT infrastructure, and governments’ potential policy to decentralise to reduce spread of pandemics and be able to arrest by suspending borders, there will be new real estate opportunities. Also a Make-in-India policy could drive new large factories to be set up.
- Online Education – we have already seen some growth in online skill development. From software development to project management to music and video making, there are several portals today to build skills online from the comfort of home. But these have not picked up well yet. Due to the prolonged lockdown, many educational institutions have already made their rest of the classes online from primary schools to post graduate colleges. Seeing the success of these, many institutions would offer regular courses online. And these would be considered as equivalent to a physical classroom delivered course. Students and teachers alike will get used to meeting online and interacting.
- Make-in-India – there could be boost to this strategy from government of India. Some production which is currently happening in China, may be shifted to India by the US and other European countries. There will be plenty of employment potential in India, although the production cost may not be comparable to the one from China today. Large MNCs could be inclined to not have all the eggs in one basket, and thus move some to India.
- Health Sector to Gear Up – I think public and private health sector will try to boost their capability in handling pandemics. World has realised its current weakness to be produce a vaccine and be able to deliver it to all the people in a timely manner. There has been no dearth of money or priority towards developing a vaccine currently. Yet it has been taking longer than nations need. Not only of being able to invent/discover a vaccine, but also of being able to test adequately, produce, and distribute them in large quantities is the current challenge. Quite possibly governments and WHO will focus some energy into building this capability for future needs.
I am sure, we may see many more changes in our lives than listed here. Just a few that come to my mind have been stated here. What do you think? What kind of world do you think we will see? Let me know your comments below. It will be interesting to come back to this post after a few years and see how far we were able to forecast. And most importantly, this should become a guiding direction for us in the course of next few months on what we need to do.