September 27, 2022

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Global Russian Roulette 2 0-Srinath Sridharan

The two years since March 24th 2020 when India went under lockdown would count as one of the biggest turmoil for many. What was considered new-normal set in, and some of which might revert to the old normal. Earlier this week, the Nation

National Disaster Management Authority has decided that from April 1st 2022c the covid protocols that are currently in place would be removed, except for face masking and social distancing. This is in view of decline in covid cases and more importantly thanks to the covid fighting capability and capacities across the various states.

With unlocking of covid protocols, the perceived individual rights to ‘celebrate’ without restrictions comes with throwing away personal safeguards such as masking and social distancing (despite the official norms). A look at any Holi festivity or wedding celebrations photographs of late, or a look at railways stations and airports and restaurants tell us so.

Global disarray

Many of us have used the phrase ‘Russian Roulette’ without knowing its actual meaning or origin. It is the practice of loading a bullet into one chamber of a revolver, spinning the cylinder, and then pulling the trigger while pointing the gun at one’s own head. Statistically, there is a one in three chance that the person will die. This probability does not change with any number of spins.

With the current global disarray, thanks to each nation playing and playing up to its own political imperatives, the concept of what’s the outcome expected in the current Russia-Ukraine war is increasingly uneasy.

The concept of global nation blocs and multilateral institutions have shown themselves to be no different from cozy clubs of sorts. Their intent, willingness, ability to rise up to the occasion to muster up even a simple resolution is in question, forget actual action. Each of the nation is on self-preservation mode.

This aside, the global economy that has already borne the brunt of the past two years of covid lockdown and impact is rearing an ugly head. With the new covid variants and rising number of infections, including across China, HK, Germany, UK, France and Italy amongst other nations, is worrying. The swing of covid infections and emergence of newer variants seem to be the current Russian roulette !

Covid Vs new-normal

A new sub-variant of the Omicron variant of covid has been detected in many nations and scientists tracking it believe that it’s increasing the surge of infections across China. As a country which is seen as the origin for this virus, and yet claimed not to have been infected if it’s own, any news or covid-data that emanates from China has to be seen with a bucket of salt. In this regard, even WHO had lost its credibility with anything regarding its China data.

The emergence of the sub-variant, designated BA.2 is worrisome considering that it beats the the rapid PCR tests used to identify the infection, due to missing key mutations in the spike protein. The WHO has said it’s premature to make any inferences about BA.2, as it produces no different symptoms than parent strain.

Nations are worrying about socio-economic chaos, if they bring in another lockdown of any sorts; and almost disdain about simple covid protocols like face mask, social distancing seems to increase the vulnerability of this infection spread.

For a society that saw thousands of covid infections daily just a year ago, any new cases reported now in 2 or 3 digits seems low and mentally we seem to write them off or even totally neglect. There in lies our inability to understand statistical trends and to make sense of them – for our own societal good and health benefits! At the same time, the need to keep at bay any fear-mongering or scaring the public is essential to keep the social morale higher, to induce people to get to normal economic activity.

Covid lockdown, WhatsApp universities, social media lessons have made us immune to data driven decisions and true narratives. Almost every one of us have formed an opinion basis the forwards and messaging received from our known social circles, not all of them qualified to make such pronouncements . Vaccination helped us fight covid vulnerability. We now need solutions to social media driven narratives.

Resilience & Rebuild

While the Government is taking adequate ‘watch and act’ measures, we should recognise it is fighting multiple variables at the same time : rising inflation, thanks to covid induced issues as well as Russia – Ukraine war; rising fuel prices, which were kept on artificial price hold for past few months; the need to kick start economy, especially in the informal as well as Nano-SME, MSME and SME space; to revive entrepreneurship momentum with requisite inducements and to increase employability opportunities; and to get the population to behave with adequate protocols especially with most of us behaving as if covid never existed in the first place.

We have the collective responsibility to get our lives back on track – with the normalcy of society that we knew it to be. For we want our children to get back to schools without any digital divide. For we need our ability to interact with one another and to get to economic activities. For we need us to be social with actual social interaction. For we need to move on with living.

Well, for all those who believe that we will never see any wave or variant of covid, it’s a good positivity. But for a nation of over 130 crore individuals, the only way we can safeguard ourselves is with necessary precautions, and not just bravado or simple faith. And to rebuild our economy and society, with confidence and compassion.

If ‘War and peace’ were to be rewritten, ‘Covid and caution’ would be the appropriate one on the global stage !