21 May 2020

Self-reliant - Self-sustained - Selfish !!

The current pandemic has affected each one of us in every walk of life in one way or the other. The impact of this could be far, wide and deep across industries and sectors. There are billions of dollars being spent on either enhanced safety measures, economic packages or even research. And in the midst of all of this, there is this ambitious goal to become self-sufficient.

Well, I would like to highlight the repercussions and consequences of nations trying to become self sufficient.

Competition: Countries are fiercely trying to innovate, modernize and re-engineer processes to ensure they do not lose out after they come out of COVID-19. This is a good sign because times like these do not come by too often. Most of the human capital - if not all, are idle and are in a sustenance mode. So in a way, this is a good sign that nations are trying their best to stay engaged and occupied. All this preparation will definitely give these nations an edge, in terms of getting off the blocks first.

Vaccine: With millions of lives being disrupted, thousands who have lost their lives and scores who have been hospitalized organizations and countries are trying their level best in inventing a vaccine for COVID-19. Overnight, nations have started allocating and spending millions of dollars on research and development in the medical field. As this article is being written, there are about a hundred research institutes awaiting their chance to claim their glory and more than ten countries in the wings, waiting to claim supremacy. Everyday, we find a new twist to the direction of the research - some expected and some weird. Some willing to use tried and tested malaria drugs while some want to turn to pesticide out of sheer confusion or desperation.

Economy: There is practically no nation that has not been impacted due to this deadly pandemic. Organisations and Industries have started looking out for alternatives and products that are totally different from their legacy products. Stock markets have reacted by and large only in one direction - southwards. Sooner than later ground realities are hitting the coffers and countries and organisations are beginning to tighten the screws. With the reserves slowly depleting and economic relief packages being very basic and limited, organisations and countries will no sooner need to look at drastic measures which seem inevitable.

Non-collaboration : We can see a change and it is rather blatant to witness two distinct eras - the pre-covid-19 era and the post. The earlier era was one of alliance building, networking and collaboration. It looked beyond regional or geographical differences and now, we see the emergence of the new era which is one of containment (not contentment), one of leaders playing their cards close to the chest in order to attain total independence. To rebuild the economy, nations are serially proclaiming supremacy and inviting its citizens to behave in different ways. Some leaders are soliciting that their citizens procure local brands and shun the global ones. - go vocal buy local. While some other leaders are asking their countrymen to stop buying products which are manufactured in a particular country, many other world leaders are trying to close trade with specific countries simply because they do not want to encourage funds leaving their country. In simple words - avoiding overseas or multinational buying.

While all the above points seem natural and normal, especially in a competitive and globalized world, there is a dark side to this approach and I see this as dangerous and catastrophic in a way.

This fierce competition could lead to unethical, racist, mean and crooked ways of reaching the top. State Heads have already begun mud-slinging reputed international organisations that have been around for decades. Some Heads have tarnished other nations with their racist comments while others have stopped aid to nations that they felt intimidated by. On the other hand a few others have stopped lucrative trade across nations because of the scare of the other becoming a super power.

All these new trends lead only to one aspect of what seems to be the inevitable new normal - Selfishness - I, Me and Myself. The new teaching in the world is that of self care. We are requested to take care of our selves, our family, our community, our district, our city, our state and our country !! Collaboration and Networking, now seems to be something ancient that we are referring to.

This unhealthy trend could be bigger than the pandemic itself because individuals, organisations and nations are beginning to look at their own selfish desires of growth and prosperity. In an era where nations continue to be inter dependent for many of their requirements like defence equipment, pharmaceutical supplies, oil and gas and essential commodities to name a few, would it then be a herculean task to be non-collaborative?

The world is in a dilemma because the modern world is filled with networkers, collaborators, integrators and partners while the leaders would rather prefer self sustenance, isolation, non-collaboration and solo performances for the 'so-called' well-being of all.

The question is, where are we heading ? What's next ?