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Heading into an uncertain future

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While the world has accepted that self-isolation and the lockdown will continue for the coming weeks or maybe months, it has also stirred some conspiracies. Whether these are concocted stories or stemming from reality is still unknown. One story circulating about COVID-19 is that it is a man-made virus. This led to the theory of bio-warfare and how China, most probably, has targeted the US economy and with it Europe and the UK. This, as opined by many, could be an act of bioterrorism where a country uses a biological weapon to raise havoc, chaos and confusion.
Furthermore, unlike any weapon, the COVID-19 has been the new weapon that has drastically changed the global landscape. Our political, geopolitical, economic, financial and social fabric has been modified within weeks. Not so long ago the world was a hub of trade activity. Now the businesses are compelled to shut down. The term ‘lockdown’ has been injected into our vocabulary and it does spread fear among the masses. People across the world were attuned to be living a life full of activity.
Stock markets and banks would open at nine in the morning to conduct their affairs. Private and public organizations would see employees running across the corridors to attend meetings and to get things done. Schools, colleges and universities witnessed students, faculty, management and staff going about with their respective activities. Sports teams, players and athletes were seen practicing and preparing themselves for their next game. Farmers would spend a day on the fields to look after their harvest while the intermediary would transport the produce to the wholesaler and the distributor. The entire supply chain of all activities of the world has been interrupted, disordered and disturbed because of the COVID-19.
The concept of late sittings at the office – so much followed by the private sector – is now replaced by work from home. Educational institutions too have been forced to change their academic strategy. They are promoting students to the next class as taking examinations is out of the question. They are also pursuing a strategy whereby students give an exam during a 24-hour time period and give answers to conceptual questions. The disruption in the production of vehicles by automobile manufacturers and the limitations faced by the airline industry is extraordinary. With no system of a supply chain in action, the assembly lines of the automobile industry have been stopped. Furthermore, the airline industry has come to a standstill.
The hospitality industry has been non-existent ever since the world went into lockdown. The hotels present a deserted look while theme parks have been closed. The restaurants too have not seen a visitor in weeks. Although the government has allowed eateries to supply food only through their delivery setup across Karachi and in parts of Pakistan, it will take weeks before the restaurant business returns to normalcy. In fact, it will take somewhere from six months to almost two years before the world returns to normality. Educational institutes have taken their teaching setup online while companies who had a click and mortar setup have smoothly shifted to the work from home mechanism. The companies that never thought of having a digital presence will face the biggest challenge. Owning a website and a Facebook page is not enough.
Companies that already have a mechanism to interact with their customers and stakeholders online will survive. Furthermore, the companies that have a digital payment and product/service delivery system will also have no problem adjusting to the era of lockdown. The COVID-19 and the global lockdown will not bring us back to where we were in January 2020. The world has changed for good. The powers that be have ensured that our future remains unhinged. However, as individuals, we must keep our minds sane and accept that the world is in flux for good.