As the pandemic resets old equations, groundwork for the post-COVID world inadvertently gets laid out. We see the Big Brother state back — locking down cities, provinces and entire nations.
But state interventions have impacted people unequally — the poor and the marginalised have borne the brunt of state overreach.
With Lockdown 5.0 or Unlock 1.0 in India — communication within and from the Indian federal polity appears garbled and ambiguous. The deluge of guidelines works more as a shield for functionaries to hide behind, rather than serve as guidance through the crisis. Instructions cry for clarity. To be effective, the strong state must communicate with clarity.
What does the resurgence of the ‘big state’ and inward looking countries then portend for the New World Order?
Globalisation had been in retreat well before COVID — a process which began with 9/11 until the 2008 financial crisis interred it. The financial crisis saw big ticket state intervention upend basic neo-liberal principles.
COVID is seeing those economies do even more of the same — fiscal stimulus abounds. The stimulus game is one that is even more likely to divide the world deeper between those who can and those who cannot — the ones who have it in them and the ones who don’t. Emerging economies unfortunately lack the firepower.
China may be a big power, but the US Dollar still remains the world’s currency of choice despite 2008 or COVID — a reality China must yet negotiate. In the process, we are seeing a more assertive China press its claims as it engages its own citizens in the midst of the pandemic — and engages the world.