The right frame of reference to look at the future is to view what we are living through as a War. But this is not just a localised skirmish between two groups or even nations. It is one which has rapidly engulfed much of the world. Few of us have lived through a World War. All we know are the stories which mark the start and end dates. The hardships faced during a World War are not what we have personally experienced. This is about to change.
In his blog post “The Third World War”, Atanu Dey writes:
World Wars are events that are global, cause severe economic damage, and result in very large numbers of deaths. Unlike ordinary wars, which are localized, by definition world wars involve the entire planet and no nation is entirely immune from the death and destruction that follows.
This world war, unlike the previous two in the last century, is not a military war. But like them, it will lead to some economic, social, and political upheavals that could not have been anticipated at the start. The start of world wars can only be identified in hindsight, when the whole world is engulfed in conflict.
Once this pandemic is seen as WW3, several implications follow. First, it is not going to be short-lived. World wars last several years, not a few months. Second, it is an inflection point. The before and after images of the world are radically different. Expect the unexpected. Third, all aspects of the world are affected negatively. The body blow to global health will cause economic disruption at all levels, and in all sectors. The tiny village in a poor nation will suffer, as will the mega region in an advanced industrialized nation.
Fourth, the political effect. Governments, which under normal circumstances gradually ratchet up their economic control, as they do in any war, increase their power and control at breakneck speeds. This is the most pernicious effect of this WW3, and this will cause more death and destruction than the pandemic will end up doing directly.
As Atanu concludes: “We were born after the two world wars of the last century, the last of which ended 75 years ago. People are used to wars around the world but have become accustomed to a world without a world war. We just don’t think it is possible that we will have to suffer a world war, or that global progress will be halted and reversed.”
Once we have a better understanding of what we are living through, we can start imagining the future. Based on that, we can take actions today which can reduce the impact of the worst that can be expected. In every war small or big, it is the poor who bear the brunt. India has lived with poverty for far too long. Till 1947, we could blame the British. After 1947, it has been the actions of successive governments that have created what I have previously called “perpetually planned poverty.”
What do we need to do to make sure the Third World War does not plunge tens of millions of Indians deeper into poverty? What can we do to build a New India from the ravages of the virus? How can we turn our greatest crisis into our biggest opportunity? What will it take to create ‘The Indian Miracle’ – like what China did starting in the 1980s?
Tomorrow; India’s Mission 10-20-30 (Part 3)