We are not at the end of COVID ’19 but we are not at the beginning of it either. We are somewhere in between. In such a crisis situation, what can make one stronger and more resilient?
Every time there is a crisis we are discussing, analysing and debating appropriate responses. When can we look beyond that and is that even possible? Well, that is the only way forward actually. The only way to work things out is by way of making the future click! The key is to not imagine but reimagine. In such uncertainties planning is not enough! We have to make the shift and draft the present by changing and adapting to the current situation as the changes and need for adaptation are irreversible and irrevocable!
Global institutions have created structures to promote technology sharing, economic growth and more so political stability. The stage has been set for sustained growth with broad social benefits as workers from low paid sectors such as agriculture have moved to high paid ones with more productivity. When future historians look back on the first two decades of the 21st century, one of the themes they will emphasise will be globalisation! Trade services may be already more valuable than goods! Even the trade in goods often has a digital component attached! Indicating the use of online communication!
Global institutions need to be modernised so that these can become the basis of inclusive growth. International agreements that enable a balanced and safe flow of data and services including a standard for taxes on digital products and services need to be far more developed. Desirable growth is never possible without economic growth which means productivity has to grow too! Pushing the frontier of innovation and technology is through boosting productivity! The sustained long term growth comes from here! Fulfilling the potential of these technologies, however, requires supportive regulation and a well-prepared workforce otherwise, the danger is that those who are displaced by technological change will end up in low paid or casual growth which is the opposite of inclusive growth. This is mediated through communication.
This highlights the triple bottom line meaning which merges economic, social and governance programmes creating positive, financial value through greater efficiency and innovation. Risk management and access to markets are crucial. What is needed is having a commitment to make the changes and investments that will create a future of broad perspective. Again that is made possible through online communication! This brings us to the innate perspective which is that of how the future can be acclimatised with a vaccine being the most prominent factor of communication.
Companies that are in the forefront of vaccine research and the billions of dollars spent on vaccine research, considering the billions of people on the planet and many of those in India in need of it. Remember, 60% of India’s population is below the poverty line and cannot possibly afford it.
That said, the cost of the vaccine is also going to be prohibitive. This situation calls for more private and public partnerships. Programs that run across countries! For example, the eradication of smallpox or polio is one such example. Once upon a time, they were killers. So, while there is hope, there is also a dilemma of who gets the vaccine and who does not.
Countries in Africa will be the last to get it. Meaning, there will be millions of deaths in Africa before the vaccine reaches them. Would corporations want to profit from the vaccine – in a capitalistic scenario the answer is yes! But when you consider the humanitarian aspect of things, one would be tempted to say no. So who wins in the end? Economics! Because money and time are finite resources and there are costs involved.
How does one ensure it reaches the masses without delay. Who makes the choice who gets the vaccine and who doesn’t? These are ethical and moral questions in need of answers. Let’s look at a more human view on communication being the crucial key during the current crisis.
Internal crises are solved through hope. External crisie are also mainly solved through awareness.
Hope and awareness are needed for a business to thrive and more so in a crisis, it is needed to just survive. For awareness and stability in an unstable situation, communication is key as it is the only thing binding us together. It needs to be factual and concrete and something which holds universal truth. Communication is essential to create hope, it indicates the way forward and explains how things will possibly unfold.
For awareness, we have to look at how a business will propel forward in order for us to communicate through all the spectrums of market scenarios, trends, the collapse, the relapse, the revival etc. With hope, we have to look at the way forward to let go of the despair with vaccines and await the times ahead of us.
Keywords become essential in such a scenario, the same keywords we use to communicate on a day to day basis. They become vital to our state of mind as they make us plan better. The prime repository of such contextual chaos or perpetual genius depends on how we view it, is social media!
One good reason why people were glued to social media in the times of the pandemic was mainly because of the minute-by-minute description of the “current status”. For instance, a website like https://www.worldometers.info/ gives one up-to-date information about countries and their pandemic statistics. Probably for the first time in history after the world war, humanity congregated on one dimension of that information – how many people are infected with COVID in my country? Where does my country stand? Clearly, diffusion of bad news spreads faster than good! And we have the media amplifying the rest. Consider a country like India with a population of over a billion people, the discussion around COVID numbers became a focal point.
In this COVID milieu, a new set of network configurations emerged. It was no longer the social influencers that ruled the information roost but a host of other stars. One such person – the WHO’s current Director-General is Tedros Adhanom, former Health Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia. He was at the forefront of WHOS COVID communication. When analysed from close quarters, his press briefings were crisp, carefully measured words that did not provoke or caused panic. After all WHO is the apex body for global health and the central hub from where information flowed top-down. From the experts to the semi-experts, to the literates and to the novices; it was open to all. Each one of these actors was able to decipher the information from their precinct. But country heads also took this information and used it to their own advantage. Information has always been the currency for change and changing political mindsets. Something we all saw in the United States and other countries of the European Union. If one were to track the flow of information, it’s easy to see how the linkages became conspicuous.
Historically, if data is the new oil… the information which is distilled data, is turbo-charged fuel. Several months into the pandemic sees the statistics of the pandemic as no longer crucial to the masses. Countries have been successful in diverting attention to more mundane, routine stuff and keeping the economic engine rolling. Today, as India or Brazil are touching 100,000 cases it is not viewed as big news any longer. Stepping back, two months ago a rise of 20K would have been considered breaking news!
Information is moving at the speed of light and social media is the medium amplifying its energy. Much like the Higgs Boson Theory – the invisible energy field that gives particles additional speed or spin! Information, much like the fundamental particles of nature is organic and has a life. The Pandemic gave the Virus – a new lease of life. The word vaccine is now a synonym for hope.
Perhaps when the euphoria of the pandemic and the vaccine dies down we will be able to pick up the pieces that we have left behind. Again, we will have online communication to thank for that!