Over seven billion is the current global population. Total death toll by coronavirus is roughly 3,500 over the past 2 months.

For the sake of simplicity, I have reduced the world population from 7.7 billion to 7 billion; and doubled the coronavirus fatalities number to 7,000.

So if we divide 7000 by 7 billion, we get this: 0.000001%.

Even that double number of deaths gives us a minuscule percentage presented above.

Just to put these numbers and the point I will be trying to make in perspective, the annual road accident deaths in India alone exceed 150,000. Yes, that is annual fatalities! But the world does not come to a grinding halt. Forget about the world, even Indians do not notice such a high number of deaths!

So what is at play at the moment that is threatening to paralyze global trade and tourism?

Unprecedented Californian and then Australian wild fires were conveniently attributed to climate change. Same with South American and Far Eastern floods.

Devastating Australian bushfires were hardly behind us and suddenly we are faced with a situation where the entire world is on the edge. Entire world:

Global supply chains – emanating from China, South Korea, Philippines, and Taiwan are disrupted.

Global travels and tourism have come to a grinding halt.Flights are being cancelled.

Vast number of aircrafts are parked on the tarmac of airports across the world.

Hotels, Airports, Cinemas and Shopping Malls are deserted.

Global economic growth targets are being revised down, even if the crude oil dropped below US$ 50 per barrel.

Bank credits are shrinking due to economic slowdown.

Consequently, global stock markets from Tokyo to New York have tanked to the levels of 2009 financial crisis.

How do we connect all these dots to the point I made right in the beginning about coronavirus deaths being merely a fraction of our global population?

Let me share a short story: I bumped into a very dear friend – almost a brother – one pleasant spring evening in 2018. He had just returned from attending a workshop in Mumbai on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and 5G technology etc. And how radically the world will change in the years and decades to come.

Like me, he is passionate about providing world-class education to our coming generations. But unlike me, he is a techy by education. He graduated from a premier Indian engineering school with a B. Tech. Naturally, he gets easily seduced by technological advancements. While I am not an anti-technology man, but I tend to look at the tech-advancements in a holistic manner – not in isolation.

So this chance encounter ended up in an almost 3 hours standing meeting. Other friends chimed in – including a PhD in Biotech. And the discussion was so intense that none of us realized we stood there for so long, discussing the pros and cons of these global technology developments and their true place under the sun. This last bit was essentially my point from the beginning to the end of that 3 hours intense discussion.

I argued, rather convincingly that:

While humans have a right (and also obligation) to make the best use of their talent and time in developing products and services that serve humanity, but they have absolutely no power to set the global agenda. None whatsoever. And we frequently get reminded of this truth, that global agenda is set by the Creator of this Globe.

In that meeting, I reminded my pro-AI and pro-5G friends that it is not China or Japan or the US that set the global agenda. It is the Creator of the world Who sets both the agenda and the pace of this world. I told them these technologies will come and go, but the world will always remain in need of basic products and services e.g. healthy food, clean water, sustainable energy, basic healthcare and educational institutions. And that is where we need to focus.

Within 2 years of that very casual standing meeting, the current situation has almost proven the point I was trying to make that night. Today, many will agree that if we ask a resident of Shanghai or Seoul whether he would like to buy the latest model of iPhone or will rather save to ensure food on his table in 3 months down the road, his answer would be later.

Similarly, some of us may have been patiently waiting for the last 2-3 years for Tesla’s SUV to be launched in our part of the world, but today we would think hard about that acquisition.Because we wouldn’t want to be in a situation where we end up waiting for months for its spare parts – if a similar situation arises tomorrow!

Theproducts and services to which we currently allocate vast majority of our financial resources are completely dispensable. This exposes the fragility of global economic architecture which stands on the back of relentless consumption.

Even though the total numbers of coronavirus deaths are just a fraction of annual deaths on Indian roads, what has brought the entire world to a grinding halt?

Well, it is simply the fear or unknown. And that fear is embedded by God – the Creator of humanity – in our psyche!

The Godless world needs to understand the level of God’s domination over every single aspect of our lives. That by just 3500 deaths, He has completely spooked the entire world – including all the “super powers”- and brought ittoits knees!

Small and big tragedies; personal and international calamities are the best times for reflections and to grasp this eternal truth. And hence the best time to turn to our Creator.

Mansoor Durrani is Senior Vice President and Head of Project Finance at the largest bank in the Middle East. Views are personal.


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One Comment

  1. Marvel at god’s creation! It made us largely out of bacteria, viruses, fungi and archaea, crafted our eyes which see less than 1 percent of the light spectrum, fitted us with sub-optimal plumbing (breathing, eating, excretory and reproductive), programmed us to die (unlike the immortal jellyfish, ,Turritopsis dohrni!) created a world where at least 40 percent of animal species are parasites, and over 99 percent of all species that ever lived are extinct, and, according to some, also blessed us with Trump!