Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. Presently, he is teaching Mathematics at NIELIT. Jugeshwor can be reached at: [email protected] Or WhatsApp’s No: 9612891339.

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Wednesday, 23 September 2020 17:35

When & how Covid will get over?

We are inching closer to the 10th month of the pandemic and there seems to be no respite from the highly infectious contagion which is ravaging the World. As of now, the number of coronavirus cases has crossed the 30 million mark across the World and has already resulted in 9, 56,881 deaths. What first emerged as pneumonia –like illness in Wuhan, China in December 2019 has engulfed 213 nations across the globe. While Scientists and medical experts around the World have been working at breakneck speed to launch a vaccine to contain the spread of Covid-19, there is one question that when and how will the coronavirus pandemic come to an end? The question is on everyone’s mind and while astrologers and politician have answers, few scientists want to be drawn into hazarding a prediction. Medical historians recognize two types of endings. The medical ending, when the disease stops spreading and social ending, when people overcome their anxieties and move on. It would be appropriate to add a third type of ending: the political, when the government decides that as far as it is concerned, the pandemic is over. Any of these three ending could occur first, as political leaders and society can decide to move on regardless of whether the cases have peaked. If we look at the world today, it would not be overly cynical to conclude that politicians would rather move on and that the societies are distracted to such dysfunctional levels by social media-driven outrage cycles that they often ignore the extant pandemic. May be India is already at this point.
What about medical ending? It is impossible to put a date on it. If anyone tells you a date, they are starting into a crystal ball. The reality is that it will be with us forever because it has spread now, “Simon Clark” a British Cellular microbiologist offers the scientific establishment’s answer: prudent and circumspect as this answer is, it is unsatisfying. It is hard for people to grapple with such an open ended answer and is unhelpful for policymakers who need a base case to work on. The conventional way to try to answer the question of “when new Covid-19 cases will start declining “is to look towards the vaccine. The medical elimination of the pandemic stems from the development of an effective and safe vaccine for the novel coronavirus and following the social protocols strictly. The crisis seems to be unfolding in India in a worse manner than we could have imagined while the official caseload has touched the 5 million mark, experts suggest that the Covid-19 pandemic will peak at different rates in different regions of the country. Hence our response to the pandemic has to be more localize and effective to get rid of the pandemic from the root level. Even when a vaccine reaches us, we would need prioritization and regulation in place to ensure that a covid-19 vaccine reaches all corners.AS of now, more than 165 vaccine candidates are currently in different stages of preclinical and clinical trials and more than 33 of them have reached the critical last leg of human trials. The good news is that even if the vaccine is not completely effective (given the accelerated timeline of its development), it will still be effective in controlling the spread of the pandemic. According to Dr.AnthonyFauci, who is the US’s top infectious disease expert, a vaccine which is safe and 50% to 60% effective will also be acceptable, even though the scientists are aiming to produce a vaccine which is 75% effective. Early data of preliminary studies have shown positive result for several vaccine candidates and we may cautiously expect a moderately effective vaccine by the first quarter of 2021. Once safe and effective vaccine are launched for public circulation begins, the cases will slowly start to go down as well as the mortality rate. Vaccine will arm the World with a good fighting chance against the contagion and take the burden off of the overwhelmed medical care system. This may be considered a step forward in ending the pandemic.
The other ending of the pandemic as observed in the case of the World’s deadliest pandemics, the Spanish Flu, could be the social ending. The deadly pandemic which infected 500 million people across the World and wiped out 1% of the World’s population at that time, ended after two long years when people gained immunity against the virus. This type of ending may play out when a large section of population gets tired of the restriction and starts stepping out of their houses. When people go back to business as usual more and more people will get infected from the disease and develop immunity against the virus. However, herd immunity and the social ending may come at a price which will be beyond our comprehension. It is estimated that 50% to 75% of the population will have to acquire immunity either through infection or vaccination – for herd immunity to kick in. How long will this take? Medical experts have different opinion but it is said that pandemic will not end before 2022. Vaccine might not offer permanent immunity, necessitating regular vaccination to keep Covid-19 at bay. But is suggested that there is another route to herd immunity – when enough people develop immunity to the virus by being exposed to it. Here’s Cynically Optimistic Back-Of-the Envelope (COBOTE) calculation. Let us assume India is undercounting Covid-19 positive cases. This is a reasonable assumption we make. Even a country like Switzerland, estimates that “for every reported confirmed case, there were 11.6 infection in the community”. If we assume that India is undercounting at this order of magnitude, we have over 20 million positive cases in India today, doubling roughly every 20 days. If this holds, over 50% of the population will have immunity by mid-November 2020 and the country will be at the threshold of herd immunity. The outbreak in Mumbai’s Dharvi area started slowing down when 40% of its residents were infected. This is good news. In fact the more undercounting, the faster we will hit the herd immunity threshold. Even if there is no undercounting at the current doubling rate, half the country’s population will have immunity by Republic Day 2021. There is of course bad news. Very bad news, in fact for the case, fatality rate is 2%. That’s lower than any other countries but for India it still means a lot of deaths. According to health experts, there is no one way of ending the pandemic in sight, instead, we need to bring the focus on controlling the spread of the disease. It can only be achieved through a degree of herd immunity, following the social distancing norms and a safe and effective vaccine. The combination of all three measures will help in slowing down the spread of the disease. But Scientist are wise not to offer predictions on, when the coronavirus pandemic will end for there are too many factors at play.
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Saturday, 19 September 2020 18:25

A.I:The Fourth Industrial Revolution

With time, science has reached its zenith. The evolution of technology has made our life easier. If you travel back to few centuries before then you cannot find any kind of technological advancement and people were fully dependent on manpower. With growing years, best invention happened that is the invention of machine or the computer. Few years after the invention, the growth began to flourish exponentially. With time, the big machine have reduced their size and increased their speed or capability. Now the human race is completely dependent on a new system, which is the combination of science and engineering and known as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and delivers a machine that is very much intelligent and they are actually computer programs. So here a question comes: why are we dependent on Artificial Intelligence? The different branches of science are working out to create a machine or computer that will have the capability and brain strength of the human being. And now they have made quite an advanced technology that made Artificial Intelligence more intelligent than humans. The father of this artificial Intelligence is “John McCarthy. We have watched many movies or machines that are capable of working more efficiently than the human. So Artificial Intelligence is also a making of-computer or says robots that are controlled by a computer or developing software that can think more intelligently just that of a human being. The impact of the industrial and digital (information) revolutions has undoubtedly been substantial on practically all aspect of our society, life, firms and employment. Will the AI revolution produce similar far reaching effects? Artificial Intelligence is no longer a technology of future, it is a technology of the now. It is playing a significant role in our daily lives. As a species, humanity has witness three previous industrial revolutions: first came steam/ water power followed by electricity, then computing. Now, we’re in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution, one driven by Artificial Intelligence and big data. One thing is clear that the latest revolution “Artificial Intelligence Revolution or Intelligence Revolution or the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0”is going to transform our World just as the three previous industrial revolutions did.
AI gives intelligent machine (be they computers, robots, drones or whatever) the ability to “think and act in a way that previously only human could”. This means they can interpret the World around them, digest and learn from information, make decisions based on what they’ve learned and then take appropriate action often without human intervention. It’s the ability to learn from and act upon data that is so critical to the Intelligence Revolution, especially when you consider the sheer volume of data that surrounds us today.AI needs data and lots of it, in order to learn and make smart decisions. This gives us a clue as to why the Intelligence Revolution is happening now. After all AI isn’t a new concept. The idea of creating intelligent machine has been around for decades. So, why AI suddenly so transformative? The answer to this question is two-fold. We have more data than ever before. Almost everything we do (both in the online World and the offline World) creates data. Thanks to the increasing digitization of the our world, we now have access to more data than ever before which means AI has been able to grow much smarter, faster and more accurate in a very short space of time. In other words, the more data intelligent machines have access to the faster they can learn and the more accurate they become at interpreting the information. As a very simple example, think of Spotify recommendations. The more music (or podcast) you listen to via Spotify, the better able Spotify to recommend other contents that you might enjoy. Netflix and Amazon recommends work on the same principle of course. Impressive leaps in computing power make it possible to process and make sense of all that data. Thanks to advances like cloud computing we now have the ability to store process and analyze data on an unprecedented scale without this data would be worthless.
In fact, every business is going to have to set smarter-from small startups to global corporations, from digital- native companies to more traditional business Organizations of all shapes and sizes will be impacted by the Intelligence Revolution. Agriculture is undergoing huge changes, in which technology is being used to intelligently plan what crops to plant, where and when in order to maximize harvests and run more efficient farmers. Data and AI can help farmers monitor soil and weather conditions and the health of crops. Data are being even being gathered from farming equipment’s in order to improve the efficiency of machine maintenance. Intelligent machines are being developed that can identify and delicately pick soft ripe fruits, sort cucumbers and pinpoint pests and diseases. The image of a bucolic traditional farm is almost a thing of the past. Farmers that refuse to evolve risk being left behind. This is the impact of the Intelligence revolution. All industries are evolving rapidly. Innovation and change in the new norm. Those who can’t harness AI and data to improve their business- will struggle to compete. Just as in each of the previous industrial revolutions, the Intelligence Revolution will literally transform the way we do business. For your company this may mean you have to rethink the way you create products and bring them to market, rethink your service offering, rethink your everyday business processes or perhaps even rethink your entire business model.
People fall into one of two camps when it comes to AI. They’re either excited at the prospect of a better society in which intelligent machine help to solve humanity’s biggest challenges make the world a better place and generally make our everyday live easier. Then there are those who think AI heralds the beginning of the end, the drawing of new era in which intelligent machines supersede humans as the dominant life form on Earth. There is a pointless debate between the incredible things that technology can achieve and potential for AI to be used in unethical, nefarious ways. Whether you’re a fan of AI or not the Intelligence Revolution is coming your way. Technology is only going in one direction- forward into an even-more intelligent futures. There’s no going back. That’s not to say we shouldn’t consider the implications of AI or work hard to ensure AI used in an ethical fair way- one that benefits society as well as the bottom line. Of course we should do that. But it’s important to understand that: however, you feel about it, AI cannot ignored. The greatest challenge facing societies and firms would be utilizing the benefits of availing AI technologies, providing vast opportunities for both new products or services and immense productivity improvements while avoiding the dangers and disadvantages in terms of increased unemployment and greater wealth inequilities.AI is changing the World as we know it. Part of fourth Industrial revolution, together with nanotechnology, robotics, the IoT and many other tech terms. AI is the buzzword of 2010s.It is expected that at least 30% of business will use some AI features to improve their sales by 2020.

Wednesday, 09 September 2020 11:52

What could be the World after Covid-19?

The global coronavirus pandemic which has already caused unimaginable devastation and hardship, has brought our way of life to an almost complete halt. The outbreak will have profound and lasting economic and social consequences in every corner of the globe.  The Global spread of the coronavirus, (COVID-19) is the ultimate news story. On the one hand, new statistics are announced on an hourly basis. On the other, the idea of a mysterious new disease spreading from country to country plays on humanity’s deepest fears. Given both physical and psychological impacts of this novel coronavirus, it is time to examine its potential long-term effects on a global scale. One potential effect may be to alter global trends in the way in which almost everything we use is produced. The supply chains for innumerable products have become increasingly global and interconnected. The psychological and practical impact of disruption in supply chains due to COVID-19 may accelerate the reversal of the grand trend of supply chain globalization. This would have a major impact on the future of the global economy. Another long term effect of the current coronavirus epidemic is its impact on the future of megacities. As the world’s population continues to both grow exponentially and urbanize, the number of megacities-those with over 10 million people will continue to increase. According to UN, there will be 43 such cities by 2030. While much of the focuses in the international discourse over the future of such cities has focused on issues like smart transport, sustainability and food security but public health will be a major issue as well. If a new disease like COVID-19 were to take root in such a city, it could potentially spread to hundreds of thousands of people within a short time. Surprisingly, there appears to be a lack of innovative start-up activity in this field of public health in future cities. Covid-19 should spur aspiring entrepreneurs ’to fill this gap.

 In the era of globalization, international conferences and trade shows have become part and parcel of doing business. If COVID-19 continueto spread around the world over the coming months, we may well see a move towards virtual business conferences. In many countries,millions of workers are facing the bleak prospect of losing their jobs.According to a report of International Labour Organisation (ILO) about 40 coror workers in the informal sectors of India will be pulled down to acute poverty line due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.The World Bank said on 12th April,2020 that the Coronavirus outbreak has  severally disrupted the  Indian economy, magnifying pre-existing risks to its outlook.The World Bank estimated the Indian economy to decelerate to 5% in 2020 and projected a sharp  growth deceleration in fiscal 2021 to 2.8%  in a baseline scenario.Global economy could shrink by almost 1% in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic.In the worst case scenario,the global output would contract by 0.9% instead of growing 2.5% in 2020.Governments are considering and rolling out large stimulus packages to avert a sharp downturn of their economies which could potentially plunge the global economy into a deep recession.On grand scale, the coronavirus by discouraging travel and potentially reversing trends in supply chain globalization, is driving people apart. In another sense, it is bringing people together. Coronavirus do not discriminate, based on nationality or religion. They touch on our most basic human condition and human fears. Understanding the disease, slowing its spread and developing vaccination, will require intense international cooperation. One of the dangers of COVID-19 is that it will increase suspicion or racism against those who appear to hail from areas where the virus most prevalent. Instead, it should trigger an emphatic human response to those suffering. Additionally, the threat of a mysterious respiratory disease spreading around the world should put the day-to-day partisan political debates in perspective. There are something that are bigger than any one politician, party or country.

     In the face of such turmoil of COVID-19, as the UN Secretary-general has indicated COVID-19 will require a response like non before-a “war time” plan in times of human crisis. And as we inch from a “war time” response to “building back better”. We need to take on board the environmental signals and what they mean for our future and wellbeing because, COVID-19 is by no means a “Silver lining” for the environment. Visible positive impacts-whether through improved air quality or reduced greenhouse gas emissions-are but temporary, because they come on the back of tragic-economic slowdown and human distress. The pandemic will also result in an increase in the amount of medical and hazardous waste generated. This is no one’s model of environmental response least of all an environmentalist’s. And indeed, the  Scripps Institute of Oceanography has highlighted that fossil fuel use would have to decline by about 10% around the world and would need to be sustained for a year to show up clearly in carbon dioxide levels. Any positive environmental impact in the wake of this abhorrent pandemic, must therefore be in our changing production and consumption habits towards cleaner and greener. Because only long-term systematic shifts will change the trajectory of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. So in the aftermath of the crisis when economic stimulus packages composed of infrastructure are designed, there is a real  opportunity to meet that demand with green packages of renewable energy investment, smart buildings, green and public transport etc. With respect to the disease itself, part of the challenge ahead is understanding where such disease come from, because the health of our planet plays an important role in the spread of zoonotic diseases i.e disease originating from pathogens that transfer from animals to humans. As we continue to encroach on fragile ecological ecosystem, we bring humans into ever-greater contact with wildlife. Further, illegal wildlife trade and illegal wet market are not infrequent causes of such diseases. Around 75% of new and infectious diseases are zoonotic and in fact about 1billion cases of illness and millions of death occur every year from these diseases.

   Humanity’s expansion on the terrestrial earth surface means that today human activity has altered almost 75% of the earth’s surface, squeezing wildlife and nature into an ever smaller corner of the planet. And yet, nature is critical to our own survival: nature provides us with our oxygen, regulates our weather patterns, and pollinates our crops, produce our food, feed and fibre but it is under increasing stress.  Changes in temperature, humidity & seasonality directly affect the survival of microbes in the environment & evidence suggests that disease epidemics will become more frequent, as the climate continues to change. As we continue our relentless move into natural habitats, contact between human and reservoir hosts increases, whether as a result of urbanization, habitat loss and fragmentation or live animal markets- all of which increases the likelihood of interaction between these vectors and humans. According to IPBES, we have seen 100million hectares of agricultural expansion in the tropics between 1980 and 2000, roughly equal to the size of France and Germany combined. The wild must be kept wild. It is time to restore our forests, stop deforestation, invest in the management of protected areas and propel markets for deforestation- free products. Where the legal wildlife trade chain exists, we need to do a far better job of improving hygiene conditions. And of course, there is the urgent need to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, the fourth most common crime committed worldwide

   The better we manage nature, the better we manage human health. This is why the post 2020 biodiversity framework that countries around the world are expected to agree on this year, matters greatly. An important pillar in our post-COVID recovery plan must be to arrive an ambitious, measurable and inclusive framework, because keeping nature rich, diverse and flourishing is part and parcel of our life’s support system. Even more important when you consider that between 25-50% of pharmaceutical products are derived from genetic resources. And as the engines of growth begin to rev up again, we need to see how prudent management of nature can be part of this “differenteconomy “that must emerge, one where finance and actions fuel green jobs, green growth and a differentiate way of life, because the health of people and the health of planet are one and the same and both can thrive in equal measure. Whatever our differences, viruses like COVID-19 known no borders, we all are one in this fight together.

Wednesday, 02 September 2020 19:06

From Risk to Opportunity

Covid-19 has not only had an impact on the health of people at large, the economic damage that it has rendered and will continue render may be more damaging than the disease itself. For a 1.3 billion –people country, the virus-positive and death cases seemed too low to warrant a drastic action. The developed world finds this too good to be true. But people living in India can resonate with the truth as we have not heard of any hospitals getting overwhelmed or people dying unattended of fever or shortness of breath. India’s democratic social media won’t spare any such cases. Now with the lockdown, we reduce the risk to an even lower level ensuring high probability of normal life after three weeks. One idle month in life of an individual or nation cannot be devastating unless not handled well. Coincidentally, the crisis has come at a time when India’s economy was struggling in the midst of one of the worst slowdowns with gross domestic product growth at sub 5% per annum. In such a time, a lockdown in a country where 700 million people live at subsistence level (with very little savings to fend for their families for a month without income) will exacerbate the pains of slowing economy. India is between a rock and a hard place. The lockdown have not reduce the increase in Coronavirus spread and its economy has cratered.During the course of this pandemic, business continue to be significantly impacted, liquidity remains tight and so does the scale of operations. New strategic alliances or business partnership are dwindling during the period Covid-19, has certainly impacted the Indian’s economy to a great extent. The government is focusing on meeting hyper demand for essential items like health care infrastructure and facilities while non-essential items are seeing a steep decline. On top of that the restrictions on movement imposed by government for the purpose of containing the virus have forced many sectors to pull their shutters down. Even though the recovery of the underlying economy will be slow but now most sectors have accepted this to be the new normal. While the overall economy has taken a hit because of the government lockdown, some sectors have converted this threat into an opportunity and are set to see immense growth in the post Covid-19 era.
During the course of the pandemic people have started using digital medium for commitments, education and entertainment. Online platforms for work meetings have seen a massive rise in popularity. Meeting and video calling applications have come up with innovative features making it conducive for professionals to work from home. This has also facilitated Schools and Universities to start online education and assessment. The lockdown has restricted events that require a massive gathering of people like sports, music festivals, theatre, movies etc. resulting in these sectors taking a hit. Due to which, online platform for digital contents has become a huge hit with many movies and shows seeing digital release instead of theatrical release. Due to lockdown, this sector has really seen a boom time like never before.
Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and retail sectors has seen a growth in this tough time. With continue fear of complete lockdown, food-based retail chains and essential commodity providers have emerged as winners. Given the heightened need of health food and immunity –boosting products among consumers have further broadened the scope for the companies are revamping their growth strategies with a focus on providing a value proposition to consumers in existing categories launching new products in the food and health categories, enhancing the direct distribution reach in the rural market, door to door services etc. Which will help them to achieve the growth in the medium-term. By this, companies have been trying to broaden their product portfolio and reducing dependence on seasonal offerings. Leading brands like Dabur, Patanjali, Zandu and other organic brand have launched more products and variants in the health food segment. The lockdown and social distancing requirements has forced consumers’ behaviors to shift from eating outdoors to home –cooked food for or ready to eat items. Also, the deadly virus has led to the growing need for quality immunity building products like Chwanprash and immunity boosting health drinks. A number of these initiatives were already in the queue but as per the situations demanded these companies have taken the opportunity for the expansion and launched new products.
Increased need for cleansing and sanitation has catapulted the demand for hand sanitizers, disinfectants and surface cleaners. India’s largest Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies have rolled out a range of home cleaning disinfectants and personal hygiene products as they anticipate a surge in demand for such items and the Covid-19 crisis. Companies such as ITC Ltd and CavinKare have rolled out surface disinfectants. ITC has launched a Savlon-branded surface disinfectants spray, after a hand sanitizing liquid, Savlon Hexa. Also Marico Ltd announced to launch of “Veggie Clean”a fruit and vegetable wash. Also, increased demand for the disinfectants, drugs and medicines due to the pandemic, has given an opportunity to the organization manufacturing chemicals required for manufacturing these. Hence organization dealing in specialty Chemicals are expected to see spike in demand owing to increase demand for disinfectants, drugs and medicine by the customers.
Health care sector have faced hardships owing to the lockdown and all non-emergency treatments taking a back seat. But this sector shall see immense investment in the aftermath of the pandemic. The World would now realize that the threat of a pandemic is very real and investment in the sector to safeguard will be done in the near future. The rife spread of the virus has warranted people to take precautions to save themselves from this deadly disease. Demand for certain medical devices like Oximeters, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and mask have seen a rise as infected patients with mild symptoms under self-care and isolation need these basic devices for self-monitoring. The market to these specified sectors is expected to see growth owing to this pandemic. Some are converting this into an opportunity by changing their product mix. New brands are coming up with essential supplies like hand sanitizers and disinfectant cleaners. While these brands are taking advantage of this opportunity established brand that have built trust over the year are leading through the rat race.
The world has seen something like never before. The Covid-19 crisis has ultimately lead to an emergence of new FMCG products, a change in consumers behavior and a shift in the market’s focus on health protection and hygiene. In order to get the business and economy back on track, the companies are moving forward by taking the situation of the pandemic as an opportunity. Some are coming up with innovative ideas and resultantly getting the first mover advantage, whose impact will entertain a long-lasting impact on the market. For the survival of the business, growth plays a vital role and it depends on its internal and external environment. The internal environment is the strength and weakness of the business entity whereas the external environment lists all factors which affects the business and is the uncontrollable factors eventually budding them into opportunity.In fact, the current covid-19 crisis provide a window of opportunity for promoting sustainability transition across the globe.
The writer can be reached to:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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