LONG TERM IMPACTS OF PANDEMIC ON SOCIETY, CULTURE AND OTHER NORMS

INTRODUCTION:

There have always been epidemics that have existed in the past but not every outbreak of epidemic has turned out to be pandemic as COVID-19 has. It has suddenly moved the beams of the healthcare infrastructure even of the most developed countries. As it is said, “the best defense against any outbreak is a strong healthcare system.”[1] The pandemic has short as well as long-term effects. The major shift has been, as far as any country is concerned has been, moving to virtual life from social life. The comfort of being in the presence of others has been replaced with ‘do gaj doori’. Instead of asking, “Is there a reason to do it online we have started asking- Do we need to do it offline?” The pandemic has its major impacts on the social, cultural, and mental aspects of human beings. [2]



CULTURAL IMPACT:

Change has always been something that has been constant in society. The culture of the organization is defined by how the employees at the organization behave or respond to. Generally, it does not change with the rapid pace as every organization has fundamental working norms of “this is how things are done”. The pandemic has forced the organization to move virtual and drop their dogma that ‘it’s always better face-to-face’. May it is the biggest company in India, has always preferred things face-to-face, as Indians believe in building trust and rapport then working professionally.[3] The pandemic has forced even the Annual General Meetings (AGM) to be conducted via video conferencing or else, who thought Reliance Ltd. would conduct its AGM online and Apple doing its annual event via live streaming. But the new culture also has its positive, all the employees are on time as they don’t have to commute, also the ones who were just physically present and added no value have to work now and the management has now started focusing on “Do more with less”. People who are out of town and close to their family members are also able to work from the culture “Work from home”, so the culture is here to stay even if the pandemic end. If we see the normal life returning one thing is sure is the adoption of temperature checks or thermal imaging cameras in the entrance foyer to send home anyone showing symptoms. Also, a lot of manufacturers or big business unit might see work-shifts so that it does not become too crowded and maintain social distancing norms. Drawing an analogy, the metropolitan cities might see a reduction in traffic during peak hours.[4]

SOCIAL IMPACT:

Initially, when the lockdown was announced in the various parts of the world, the most major change was seen as the shift from spending money and enjoying the holidays to spending money on basic necessities. The other behavioral theme that has aroused out of the crisis is the shift towards authenticity. Now the behind-the-scenes reality has now come forward and now we can see the sense of acceptance that how people keep juggling the act of home, work-life balance. As mentioned above people have now seen multi-tasking at their homes. What used to be a weekend gathering or getaway has now been shifted to video conferencing or video calling. This may seem like saving time in the long term but what we are not able to see is the flip side of the coin, i.e., how the personal touch will be lost and social media will gain its boom at a higher level which may have an impact in the attention span as well as the productivity of adults and students. Virtual classrooms which now look like a new norm and may seem to be a time saver but have significantly reduced the efficiency of the students and they have developed a sense of secluded as it is a one-way road of teaching, especially in a country like India where the strength of the classroom sometimes even exceed hundred, will have a serious impact on the approach of professors as well as students.



OTHER IMPACTS:

MENTAL IMPACT:

Mental illness that is not even considered an illness in countries like India and is considered taboo has posed a serious threat taking a toll on people’s health. With employment issues being on the top and the unethical firing policy adopted by a lot of organizations have affected people diversely. Studies have shown that the lockdown has led to 37% of people showing signs of psychological distress and up to 45% of adults facing adverse effects on mental health and up to 70% of the population felt that the period was the most stressful of their entire career life. Not only to the adults but it has caused disruption in the education of 80% of students and dropouts are likely to be because of reduced parental finance.[5] We have seen the news where a lot of poor economic class in India has had to sell their cattle so that they could afford the online education.

HEALTHCARE SERVICES:

The pandemic will make a shift in how we look towards the healthcare delivery system that takes place. Telemedicine that had gained its momentum long back but was kept lingered due to the non-readiness of the population has now become the spotlight at the moment where the only possible way to contact the doctor or health worker is through a video call. This might be one of the biggest possible long-term impacts as it will keep the patients out of the transit system, out of the waiting room, and most importantly, away from the patients who have symptoms and need urgent medical care.[6] Increased use of technology and opening up of telemedicine through transparent guidelines will improve the access to the healthcare facilities even to the remotely located regions even in the geographical diversified regions like India. This could be one of the innovative ways to channel the trained healthcare power that India possesses. [7]


LEGAL IMPACT:

The havoc that the pandemic has created has affected the legal fraternity where the open court hearings were the art of the industry’s daily life. The shift to virtual hearings as contended by certain experts shouldn’t be a replacement to the courtrooms as hearings in general cases are open to the public and this might not be possible in the virtual hearings and secondly, we aren’t sure if we have the required infrastructure for the same. Though if the technology is supported well, it can be a boon as the constraint of “delay” can be eliminated to a certain extent. The copies of judgments and the copies to be submitted to the court can be done through email.


ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:

The old joke has it that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. As the unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic rolls on, the future isn’t, what it used to be either. What used to be a simple idea now comes freighted with caveats, assumptions and speculations.[8] The economic crisis has affected the economy as a whole. The economic recovery can be either a V-shaped, U-shaped or L-shaped, depending upon the functioning of the nation. It can be either short term or long term. Based on the current scenario of the market, the investors are unsure about which shape will the economy take, so, they’re buy stocks and goods used in production in a hope that the global economy will bounce back.[9]

Behind all the suffering and disruption and all hardships of the pandemic and even larger global crisis is lurking: climate change. [10] There was a reduction in the environmental pollution during the lockdown period but as unlock phase has started, the pollution level has drastically started increasing and in the long run even after adapting so many scientific techniques, it is possible that pollution level increases. The Mother Nature was in its own glory while the humans where inside their homes during the lockdown.


CONCLUSION:

Since the initiation of the pandemic and the fear it brought along, the most significant change that any state would have would be the macro threat through biology. The germ culture would be seen as a new terrorism culture. The government would look forward to opt in new technologies for combating the disease keeping the privacy of their country in their mind so that such a crisis would never occur in the future. Just like China has instituted mandatory temperature screening and linking thermal camera reading to identities via facial recognition so as to keep a track on who is infected, this is something the future may behold. There is also a cultural shift that was seen during the recent times towards wearing mask in public places to protect yourself and others from the disease and show solidarity. [11] We might soon see a codification of new laws relating to the public hygiene taken a bit more seriously.


[1] https://www.expresshealthcare.in/blogs/covid-19-pandemic-long-term-impact-on-indian-healthcare/418670/ [2] https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/19/coronavirus-effect-economy-life-society-analysis-covid-135579 [3] http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/m1/en/articles/2020/how-the-pandemic-can-change-workplace-culture-for-the-better.html [4] http://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200629-which-lockdown-changes-are-here-to-stay [5] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/what-risks-does-covid-19-pose-to-society-in-the-long-term/ [6] Supra Note 2 [7] Supra Note 1 [8] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk/our-insights/covid-19-implications-for-business [9] https://theconversation.com/5-graphs-that-show-how-uncertain-markets-are-about-the-coronavirus-recovery-143475 [10] Supra Note 4 [11] https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/92271-preparing-for-the-long-term-impacts-of-covid-19

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