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#Column: Who gains in this biological warfare?

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Vivek Shukla: Biological weapons are the safest and surest means of mass destruction of both economy and humanity. Without an army or a weapon, it is the shortest way to win a war from the back office. Corona, the man made artificial virus was created with the intention to destroy and kill the world economy. Corona virus has fulfilled the mission of its creators. It is a RNA-based communicable disease and till date has no cure.

The Economist says “No business grows in isolation. If a nation wants to grow financially and economically then it should be in a team of rich and prosperous friendly nations so that it can export and import raw material and finished goods frequently. It must have a skilled workforce with a strong customer base where commercial transactions of its produce and products can take place for revenue generation.”

To become a global manufacturer one needs a stronghold in the world consumer market through a financially sound customer base of importers, brokers, stockists and industrial users who can purchase, consume and hold the stocks for a long period of time.

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But Covid has created an inverse effect in the global market. The investors ran out of market and consumption plummeted and became negative in some instances.

Covid was declared a pandemic by WHO resulting in international lockdown. It has broken the financial backbone of many nations as complete and full shut down was observed in major European and Asian countries with zero productivity.

The GDP became negative and there were no buyers of international goods be it energy products or cheap Chinese products. The limited consumption shrunk the demand graph and it has turned negative for some products.

A Covid blame game has begun and the world has started boycotting Chinese goods and is mulling to shift their production units too.

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India was under a 70-day lockdown which killed the earnings of daily wagers, labourers and marginalised class forcing them to journey home on foot and bicycles. The lockdown has presented an opportunity for citizens to recognise the work and words of corporate houses, celebrities, politicians, social groups, religious groups and community workers. People have managed to differentiate between real service and lip service. It has also brought home the lessons about the ultimate goal of life. There has been the added benefit of our environment improving during the lockdown.

It has also rewritten politics and diplomacy at the global level and entrepreneurs and economists are talking of “Go Vocal for Local” and how to make India self sufficient – “आत्म निर्भर भारत“.

Few sectors will see a long term impact as social distancing and such makes it more difficult for these sectors to get back on their feet. This includes labour intensive manufacturing units, infrastructure projects, travel and tourism, entertainment, commercial venues, sports industry, education and event management businesses which by nature of their work may find it difficult to maintain social distancing.

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The macro and micro economy will take a few years to recover due to the disruption in the global supply chain. There will be major reshuffling in choices of SEZs and manufacturing hub locations. Most favoured nation’s list, overseas investment policy, foreign policy, exim policy and tariff structures will undergo sea change.

At corporate and institutional level core investment committees will frame new investment policies and review current projects. Capital projects, sectoral plans, schedule, time and place of investments will also see major changes. Review of mega investment policies will also bring some minor effect on the standard operating procedures (SOP) of merchant bankers and retail investors.

Financial experts and analysts are exploring and recommending new potential investment avenues post covid with pharma, biotech agriculture, energy, IOT, health and insurance as opportunity sources.

A post-covid world will see lifestyle changes too with habits like social gatherings becoming a thing of the past. Social distancing should be our prime objective in today’s time and we need to follow safety guidelines and precautions.

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In the new post-covid world, isolation should be the new mantra of our life. Our work stations will be a sanitized zone and e- commerce and online markets will flourish as people restrict their movements.

Seminars will now be webinars, school and college teaching will go online. Domestic and international events, tourism and hospitality business will see an impact and most citizens will likely stick to just essential services.

Face masks will be a permanent feature of our wardrobe and food and eating habits will change drastically. Simple living and high thinking will turn out to be an outcome of the epidemic. Our experience leaves us better equipped and experienced to face any future outbreak of epidemic. This has brought us closer to a Sanatan and Satvik lifestyle. Namaskar is our new sanskar.

(The writer is a management consultant and advises companies on revival strategies during Covid crisis. Views expressed are personal.)

Coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity rather than challenge for India