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Pandemics and Historical change

June 11, 2020 Indrani Kukkadapu 0 Comments


 Pandemics and historical change

               Streamed live on; June ,11,2020.

The webinar is about the "Pandemics and Historical Change" . It was hosted by the Empower people with the panelists named Anirudh Deshpande ( assistant professor, department of history, University of Delhi). And also we had  Matiur Rehman Khan ( assistant professor, department of history,PGDAV college {eve}, University of Delhi) to express their views and to share.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced that the COVID-19 virus was officially a pandemic after barreling through 114 countries in three months and infecting over 118,000 people. And the spread wasn’t anywhere near finished.

COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus—a new coronavirus strain that has not been previously found in people. Symptoms include respiratory problems, fever and cough, and can lead to pneumonia and death. Like SARS, it’s spread through droplets from sneezes.

The first reported case in China appeared November 17, 2019, in the Hubei Province, but went unrecognized. Eight more cases appeared in December with researchers pointing to an unknown virus. 

Many learned about COVID-19 when ophthalmologist Dr. Li Wenliang defied government orders and released safety information to other doctors. The following day, China informed WHO and charged Li with a crime. Li died from COVID-19 just over a month later.

Without a vaccine available, the virus spread beyond Chinese borders to nearly every country in the world. By December 2020, it had infected more than 75 million people and led to more than 1.6 million deaths worldwide. The number of new cases was growing faster than ever, with more than 500,000 reported each day on average.

Most civilizations have suffered deadly pandemics; some have been destroyed by them. From the Plague of Athens, which denied that city-state an early victory in their war with Sparta, to the Black Death, which killed some 40 percent of Europeans in the mid-fourteenth century, history suggests deadly communicable diseases impact societies in consistent ways.

Today, political questions are already being asked of leaders and other public authorities leading responses to the virus. Modern communications mean it is now much easier to compare these performances: relative failure is more obvious than in earlier centuries. Societies led by elderly men—the demographic most at risk for Covid-19—and countries that enjoyed plentiful revenue from oil exports before the virus, face a particular risk of instability. Coupled with generally poor health care systems, the political impact of the virus may be greatest in the least developed countries, a fact not yet apparent because the coronavirus spread to richer countries first.

Quarantine and isolation, as well as the failure of previously respected models of thinking to anticipate a pandemic, have often given rise to superstition. Some of this has manifested as spurious notions on what might prevent or cure a disease. Woolen cholera belts, for example, were thought to ward off the waterborne disease, which killed millions in the nineteenth century. And even those who escaped often changed their behavior in recognition that they may have a very short time to live.

In 2020, Covid-19 has provided fresh opportunities for the spread of systematic disinformation and accidental misinformation. While the internet and other media mean we are less detached from each other than the populations that went through previous pandemics, we should still expect a rise in non-conventional beliefs—one of the most bizarre so far is the entirely spurious suggestion that 5G technology somehow causes the coronavirus. How much these views can be confined to the fringe remains uncertain.

While solidarity can increase within a community, those deemed to be outside it are often blamed for spreading the disease. The Black Death in the 1340s, for example, resulted in renewed anti-Semitism, much of it murderous, and hostility toward Romani, pilgrims, and beggars. Lepers, some of whom had skin lesions that looked like plague buboes, were particularly ostracized. Almost all pandemics, from ancient times to the present, bring a suspicion of foreigners, and people in quarantine have often been the victims of violence. In the coming months, most democracies are likely to initiate thorough investigations into all aspects of the disease. We should hope their reports assign blame and responsibility in a responsible and fair way.

Historical pandemics had profound economic effects, especially those that killed substantial numbers of people, laborers were able to demand much higher wages, and the rental value of agricultural land declined. Food prices also fell, although the cost of some imported goods rose. Several plagues and pandemics have seen the destruction of wealth and redistribution of assets, usually with a larger impact on richer people, and thus reduced inequality.

While Covid-19 is not expected to kill nearly as high a proportion of people as historical pandemics, profound economic effects are expected, nonetheless. Already, global supply chains are being questioned, “just-in-time” delivery systems are amplifying economic shockwaves, and migrant labor is being turned away. Globalization seems to be going into reverse. Some key workers, especially in the health and care sectors, may end up with higher wages, potentially regarded as hazard pay, while certain sectors may suffer long-term problems, including restaurants, airlines, and some mass-spectator sports. It is naive to expect a vaccine rolled out in 2021 could bring back the economic ecosystem lost to the virus this year. Meanwhile, the unprecedented levels of government debt and monetary stimulus taken on to shore up the private sector could well lead to higher inflation for goods and services in the 2020s, just as the stimulus after the 2008 stoked asset-price inflation.

Although pandemics can have a leveling impact economically, socially they often impact some groups much more than others. Generally, those who have benefited from good nutrition have fared much better than others. Those who have treated victims of a pandemic have always been at greater risk—undertakers and gravediggers throughout the centuries, monks and nuns who offered respite during the Black Death, and medical workers in contemporary times. 
It has already been widely documented that Covid-19 is most lethal to elderly people: the median age of death in some countries is around 80. Men may be dying from the illness twice as much as women, and those with some underlying conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, are also more vulnerable, as are people who smoke. Markedly higher death rates among everyone one has also been reported, although why this is has not yet been completely explained.

Although the lockdowns that began in many countries in March were celebrated by some as an opportunity for people to undertake new cultural or arts projects, the quality of these efforts may well be varied. People may prefer to consign the past away rather than dwell on it: after weeks of relentless media coverage on Covid-19, books about the pandemic may miss their audience, for the time being at least. We should expect the full cultural impact of the pandemic to be delayed. It may take several years for the abnormality of a current pandemic to be reflected in art and culture.

Compiled by; Indrani Kukkadapu.