When I think about a swan, it is always a ‘White Swan’that comes into my mind. During my studies at university, I came across a metaphor –‘Black Swan’. I was puzzled and questioned whether Black Swan exists. I searched the literature and found that black swan exists but it’s rare.
This metaphor is used to describe any event which is rare and unpredictable. When I begin to think more and more about COVID-19, I can see that this situation can be related to a black swan event, which came as a surprise and now creating a major impact on our lives.
At different times, the world has faced an unprecedented loss of lives and properties. Different types of black swan events that the world has faced are - the 1997 Asian Financial Crash, the “Dotcom” crash, the 9/11 Attacks, the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and Brexit. These events were unpredictable, unexpected and enigmatic.
We all are living in the midst of a pandemic crisis following all the protocols necessary to deal with, yet we do not know whether the COVID-19 will be normalized. The COVID-19 acts as one of the black swan events due to the havoc created on global economic growth, trade indicators, price of fuels, tourism industry, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and social phenomenon. Its shocks are still unfolding globally.
The social impacts of novel coronavirus have attributed severe impacts on social cohesion because human beings are social creatures. The practice of social distancing and living in self-isolation has caused psychological distress among the people across the world. Recent studies show that the people living in the fear and anxiety have less immunity to fight against viruses.
The world is still not prepared to cope with the pandemic and its severity and widespread consequences on global economy, social unity and politics.
Learning from the history of black swan events and this pandemic, we need more collaboration and focused interventions at all levels to deal with this black swan event. We need to support front-line workers and strengthen the medical supply chain reaching the unreached communities. We need to support the most vulnerable communities that have lost their income.
As a global crisis, the high-income world must be able to use global technologies and provide support to the developing world with technology and resources. Those with high vulnerability and less power have been victimized. How can we address inequalities within and beyond the countries at this time of crisis and support the people who are affected differently?
This black swan event, like earlier such events,has taught us to push our limits and capabilities, not to give up or stay in dilemmas. We need to get the best out of worst, but to stay hopeful and productive in this black swan event.
Aagya Pokharel, Master in Human and Natural Resource Studies from Kathmandu University.