The entire world today is grappled by the novel corona virus to which vaccine looks a far cry. The situation has become so dreadful that even the superpowers with most destructive weapons in their arsenal have surrendered to this virus. For humankind pandemics is not a new conception (strategically) given we have battled out SARS, MERS, Zika and Ebola successfully.
However what is remorseful is that even with narratives in the past we have not been proactive with our strategy for pandemic like this. It is worth noting that regulators have consistently downplayed the preeminence of “DIGITAL SCIENCE”, while encountering the given situation.
Motive behind this article is not to be critic of how the executives have addressed the situation but only to apprehend the waning significance of digital science. How efficiently and effectively we could have used the digital science while fighting with the corona is the lone purpose of this entire article.
According to Hindu mythology BRAHAMASTRA (Panacea) is the strongest and the ultimate weapon having capacity to destroy everything that comes its way. So as it was used to win over the evil, is there any Brahamastra to eliminate corona?
Answer to that is yes of course, Brahamastra for corona is its vaccine coupled with Data and Tools encompassing Artificial intelligence together referred to as Digital science. It is to be understood that where a medical response to the situation is vital it is equally important to encounter the circumstance with well planned strategy. To substantiate this, let us have a look at the events that have unfolded in last 3-4 months.
Newspapers flooded with clippings, each of them exhibited the gravest migrant crisis that India has ever faced. With lacs of migrants trudging back to their villages, it has thrown India 15 years back in terms of development. Surprisingly corona not being the sole reason for this!!! .Workers faced double whammy; one that corona stripped off them with their work and second that they ran out of funds to pay for their livelihood. To accentuate their plight coming days saw workers being mown by the trains while travelling back to their villages.
Our national capital along with other states was struggling to match the health infrastructure with growing number of COVID-19 patients. Stadiums and Trains being turned into quarantine centers and lately hotels being roped in for the same purpose shows how important it was to correctly estimate the number of infected people.
Could have such a frenzy response be substituted with a timely and a comprehensive action plan? The answer is a firm yes!!
Firstly, ramping up the infrastructure becomes critical to deal with pandemics; however before doing this it is significant to estimate the number of infected people. This again stresses upon the importance of data which forms the basis of such estimation along with the tools to analyze the collected data. However the way we have encountered events it can be said that benefits of available data and the tools could not be reaped to full.
Secondly, think tanks those are equipped with AI and the other tools, could have easily mined the data that is collected from our traditional exercise CENSUS (2011). Even arriving at a rough estimate could have come handy to the Government for providing these poor people with timely food and shelter thereby avoiding a chaos in the entire country. In the absence of requisite action, panic stricken workers thronged roads, bus stands and railway stations to ensure that anyhow they reach their native villages. This further added to the risk of transmission of corona and triggering community spread.
Even initiatives such as “Shramik Trains” and buses arranged for ferrying the people could not serve the purpose as the data pertaining to number of people to be plied was either incorrect or not available. The above incidents exemplify how digital science could be used as weapon to strategically win over corona
With India transforming into ‘Digital India’, under the vision of our honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi there is dire need of exploring the potential of digital science. This can be ensured by wider and exhaustive application of digital science in different fields and not limiting it to merely a start up concept.
To strengthen the digital base and reap its benefits the need of the hour is legislation of a data protection bill that comprehensively lays down the guidelines for using the data and provides measures that are required to prevent unethical hacks. Not only this is a structured and a dedicated organization besides cyber cell required to be put in place to encourage safe use of digital science.
Appreciating the way India has dealt with pandemic it is high time that we start using tools such as AI more aggressively than ever. Flagship schemes such as ‘Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna’ that aims to equip the youth with excellent set of skills, should comprehensively include training in this field. Seminars and online campaigns emphasizing the significance of digital and caution that has to be exercised while going digital are required.
To conclude, the aim is to sensitize people that, the era in which we are living it is imperative to equip ourselves with skills required for using digital science. Even though certain untoward incidents have unfolded recently we cannot undercut the importance of digitalization. The judicial use of the available resources could have resolved our most of the existing problems on one hand but the absence of which may land us into deep trouble. So it’s high time to become more adapting to this dynamic digital environment else we will soon fade out……