Time Travel – it’s nothing like how they portray in science fiction. There is no eddying luminescence, no cramped tunnels, no lost love scavenging. A twinge wherein you’re squeezed through something too small for your body. Every bone minces, every tissue in your body snaps like a twig, your nerves feel shredded. In the year 2020, when they did their first trial, you’ve been loaded with knock-out serum, and you’ve reached a future in that amnesia period.
So, how was it?
Weird. The strange thing about time travel is the limits. We can go forward as far as we want, but only backward only works as far as the present-day or when I left. Traveling back from now, 2020, is impossible.
I’m Arth, your message receiver from the future, a scholar, an economist, and a political science advisor for India in 2040. And we got the message, and you are here to know what good things happened after 2020?
I wanted to time travel to the past and stopped the root cause of the pandemic. But like I told you, time-travel doesn’t work that way. So I came to the future to see if everything’s fine. The digital calendar reads 40 Po. C.E. What’s that?
‘That’s right! After denoting the years by religious fanaticism as B.C & A.D and by liberalism, communism as B.C.E & C.E now we are in the Pre. C.E and Po. C.E times of bespeaking years. It means the Pre COVID-19 era and the Post COVID-19 era. Started in 2020, currently, we’re surviving the 4th decade of this deadly pandemic in the new socio-liberalism era.’
‘Don’t look at me bewildered. Liberalism thrived after the industrial revolution, and the need for contemporary social reforms has sprouted decades before the pandemic as well. They called it left-liberalism, or modern liberalism or new liberalism back in your days, I know.’
‘Humans encountered many speed breakers en route the path of progressiveness. Religion, colonization, slavery, exploitation of natural resources, world war I, communism, the great depression, the rise of dictatorship, world war II, terrorism were some of the events that clogged us from advancing as a species. There were natural disasters, pandemics, and economic disparities that stood as barricades in our progress. But this COVID-19 pandemic went a little further ahead. It completely halted us like a toll-booth, and we paid a hefty price before going forth. Hence, we evolved into this new socio-liberalism span, which is drastically transforming the basic scheme you followed until 2020 and established a new norm altogether.’
So, drastic changes happened?
‘Most of the world countries have gone through draconian changes in their economic and social policies. We don’t rank the countries based on their product producing capabilities, imports, or exports anymore. G.D.P. and G.N.P. notions are dead. All the countries follow G.D.H. and GDWB.’
‘G.D.H. stands for Gross Domestic Happiness, and G.D.W. stands for Gross Domestic Well-Being. The paradigm shift from business and commerce to people’s happiness and well-being is a considerable metric nowadays. With the implementation of the new nomenclature, we have inculcated many policies worldwide, including India. As a nation, we stand at 76th in G.D.H. and 83rd in GDWB in 2060. We calculate science perception by average wealthiness, the number of violent attacks, law and order effectiveness, political stability, peace elements, and other parameters like a better balance between work, family, and leisure experienced by the citizens. We’ve wrapped religion indoors. Since India isn’t preaching religion or holy books, we got a better ranking in our G.D.H.’
‘Happiness and well-being have enhanced very recently. In the wake of the outbreak, people realized the importance of consumption. People understood that Government aided private companies under the taglines of globalization and privatization were transmuting themselves to consumers. Post COVID-19, consumers metamorphose into humans again, where recycling of products is imperative. People only bought what they required. Most of the businesses which aren’t necessary for survival went bankrupt and ultimately egressed. We weren’t smart spenders back then, and apprehension swept through our minds like a tsunami. Jobs like tax consultant, investment banker, hedge fund manager, travel agents became redundant. Healthcare and education companies, grocery stores, local Kirana stores, sanitization workers needed the hour. Crores of people lost jobs those are superfluous, yet we created novel indispensable jobs.’
‘Indian Government made us realize how idiotic it was to brawl over food preferences, temples, mosques, preaching, and ideologies. We absolved the clutches of caste, community, race, and creed from the government gazette. We are all referred to as ‘Indians’ today, and there aren’t surnames to flaunt by our people. When the pandemic took over, it made us all discern we’re all human beings first. Individuals died of the virus, irrespective of this artificial differentiation—this reduced violence and terrorism. We started spending lesser on defense and military. We finally understood, there is a much bigger problem than the India-Pakistan and Indo-China border dispute.’
How are the tax regimes nowadays?
‘Gabriel Zucman, one of the world’s leading tax experts, in his book ‘The hidden wealth of Nations’ (2015) stated that $7.6 trillion of the world’s wealth is hiding beneath tax-havens. He proposed a much higher wealth tax on the rich. I felt this globalization and privatization had made people selfish, leading to more inequality amongst the masses.’
‘Like most countries, India eradicated all forms of taxes viz. sales tax, income tax, wealth tax, professional tax, V.A.T., and G.S.T. We introduced a straightforward and unique structure of collecting taxes based on the number of transactions. And I.T. department further categorized citizens based on their earning potential. The people who earn more endowed more tax, and people who aren’t wealthy paid minimum taxes. Unlike those bygone eras where the rich with an army of accountants and lawyers were able to dodge the bullet of paying taxes easily, today they have to remunerate more taxes.’
‘Simply put, if I’m in slab A, a rich and wealthy person for a single transaction, I ought to pay ‘3X’ the tax amount, whereas a poor person in slab F, for the same transaction amount, needs to pay only ‘X’ as a tax amount. So, everyone pays the Government. We levy all these taxes before the actual transaction, and once delivered, it gets credited onto the state budget immediately.’
But anyone can easily manipulate the cash transactions, and the black money market will be predominant, right?
‘We don’t have physical cash anymore. All the transactions happen through digital medium only. Cash is just a number which we have in our bank accounts in this new economy. I remember you guys used bitcoins. Likewise, we have digital cash for every country. Bit-dollars, bit-yen, bit-euros, and for India, bit-rupees. Yes, forgery and black money dwellers are still prevalent as hackers and ‘virtual’ thieves, amidst all this progressiveness.’
‘There are no billionaires at all in this present society. Many have become millionaires. Whenever a person earns more than a billion, it’d be confiscated by the Government, thus ensuring there is no cash hoarding. Indian Government’s business policies are now focused on wealth creation rather than on wealth redistribution.’
‘And the good thing is, we have surplus cash flow in the system. Everyone owns a palmtop and are connected online 24/7 with each other through high-speed internet. Technological advancements are huge!’
That’s no surprise; we would have been top-notch in technology!
‘As we speak, there is an AI-enabled robot performing a heart transplant on a patient, robots are acting as shields in the border defending our nation, e-commerce has AI-enabled drones to deliver items on our terraces, and we have driverless cars to take us from one place to another.’
‘Spending on media and entertainment was reduced drastically by the Indian Government, and we focused on science and technology instead. Unlike in 2003, after the SARS outbreak, private investors pulled out of coronavirus research, this Government driven economy did not do so. We are currently spending almost 8% of our revenue on healthcare research alone post the COVID-19 pandemic. The public health system so robust nowadays, rich or poor will get first-class medical treatment. We have already diagnosed a cure for most diseases, and the medical expert team is fully prepared for any other pandemic that might rage against the human race. Mortality rates have reduced rapidly in the past decade.’
‘Many new strains of the novel coronavirus which came up post the 2020 outbreak and our scientists droned the hat of soldiers with their missiles of vaccine to defend the human race. Survival of the fittest – and a unicellular microbe is no match for the brilliant anatomically modern human brain. We cured H.I.V. for Godsakes!’
A Maharashtra school teacher, Ranjitsinh Disale, won a $1Mn global reward when I started. How has education transformed?
It all started with online education, and Q.R. enabled textbooks. At present, every child can access any book at any time, at any place required. Grasping knowledge has become free!
India’s curse is an unstable political climate. Any luck now?
‘Governments are made much stronger than ever in the history of humankind. Trade unions are everywhere in all the industries raising voices against the Government when it squishes policies related to workforce happiness or well-being. And all of this in a healthy way!’
‘The population is controlled substantially. The global population, which brimmed at 10.5 billion very recently, is estimated to be slowing down. After reaching the 3 billion mark, experts say the Indian population will abbreviate dramatically. We’ve finally understood, feeding innumerable mouths is arduous.’
‘Awareness about the environment is at its peak. More than 75% of the global population has turned vegan, with India as a fore-runner, with almost 85% of the population do not devour meat and meat-based products. This created demand and techniques to sustain other forms of life on the planet. For every 1000 Kms, we now have miniature forests flourishing with flora and fauna unique to the region. In India, most of the households have become environment friendly. No permission for new building projects if they don’t have rain-water harvesting or facilities to nurture plants, vegetation, and birds. Solar paneling over our roofs gives us the electricity to survive, and all our automobiles have become electric. Dead zones with no marine lives have started a new chapter – coral reefs have started to grow back.’
‘There is a significant increase in animal and plant breeds. Our country’s tiger population touched 25,000 last week due to strict wildlife protection rules. If these rules had been levied earlier by other countries, there wouldn’t be a COVID-19 outbreak in the first place—a blessing in disguise. Anyhow, we, as a nation, have started electing able leaders who can govern from the front. Indians consume more home food, grew fruits, herbs, and vegetables in their backyards and terraces, and greet other people with Namaste, rather than handshakes.’
‘They used to say, the old ones died, and the new ones forget. The old ones did die – true, but the new ones didn’t forget the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are trying to teach the lessons learned for the generations to come. As Rahm Emanuel quoted during the 2008 financial crisis, You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.’
My apprehensions tumbled down like a pack of cards! It looks like the best phase in human history
‘The one objective which none of the religious books could achieve for years, we succeeded by sheer determination. All thanks to the tight slap from the CORONA virus outbreak. The earth doesn’t belong to human beings alone, and the planet is so damn fragile. Humans are a speck of dust in this vast universe and can be easily eradicated right from the face of the earth. We need to stay humble, happy, and gracious. We don’t need violence amongst us in this short life, and there are many threats already. When we reach 2120 A.D or 100 Po, C.E, we’ll be proud to register this was the first century sans any bloodshed.’