As the number of people globally infected with the coronavirus crossed 700,000 and the count for dead touched 34,000 Monday afternoon, larger questions of how the world will look once the pandemic abates are already being asked.
Is China, said to have conquered the virus because no new deaths have been recently reported, going to overtake the US as the pre-eminent global power? Is US President Donald Trump’s injection of $2 trillion into the economy an assertion that it isn’t about to cede space to China? Will the European Union, amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic, survive in the present form?
And will Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose outreach to South Asia has been perfunctory at best with one tele-conference, emerge as a regional leader in his own right?
As far as India is concerned, the answer is easy. India is far too overburdened with its own health challenges and the crisis facing its migrant labourers to be able to reach out to anyone right now. Although a defence medical team is in the Maldives to deal with coronavirus patients (there are 4 reported) and Bhutan has asked for protective gear.
US changing stance
So, it’s back to the Big Two on the world stage – the US and China. And how they will use this crisis to leverage their own positions to remain on top of the political pile at home.
Interestingly, Donald Trump, who faces a re-election in eight months, has considerably piped down his rhetoric from two weeks ago when he described Covid-19 as the “China virus”.