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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 33, New Delhi, August 1, 2020

Pandemic 2020: Toxic Leaders, Selfish Nations And An Orphaned World ! | RK MIshra

Friday 31 July 2020


July 25, 2020

Never have so many suffered so much for the sins of so few.

As the puny and the petty head nations, a leaderless world hovers on the brink desperately clutching at miracle cures and searching for economic succour . Neither seem at hand.

The pandemic crisis is best summed up by free reference website, Worldometers which monitors COVID-19 round the clock. As of July 25, 2020, the outbreak of the coronavirus has been confirmed in around 210 countries or territories. The virus has infected 16,048,238 people worldwide and the number of deaths have totaled 644,679 with 9,808,404 having recovered . The disturbing aspect, says Ian Simple writing in the Irish Times, is that people who have recovered may lose their immunity to the disease within months, with research suggesting the virus could re-infect people year after year like common colds.

India, as of July 25, with 1,382,995 cases, 467,124 active infections, 883,793 recoveries and 32,078 deaths is now placed third in the world in terms of number of cases, after the United States and Brazil. In terms of total deaths, India has risen to sixth spot, after the US, Brazil, the UK, Mexico and Italy. This day also saw 45,973 fresh cases and 681 deaths in a single day-coming down below 700 for the first time after a week. Having overtaken the US, India is now locked with Brazil for the dubious distinction of highest deaths worldwide within the last 24 hours.

Even when it comes to tests performed per million population, India is a laggard at 140th position with 11,478 tests, behind even countries like Kazakhstan, Costa Rica, Croatia, even Nepal but can take solace that it is ahead of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka .

The COVID-19 pandemic is best described as a global human crisis devastating the world. Edith M. Lederer of the AP summed it up when she pointed out that in the last great crisis of 2008 when financial markets collapsed, major powers worked together to restore the global economy. It gave birth to the leaders’ summit of the Group of 20, the world’s richest countries responsible for 80 per cent of the global economy. The 2020 pandemic throws up a scenario which is striking for the opposite- no leader, no united action to stop the spread. In fact when UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres proposed ahead of their summit in late March that G-20 leaders work to a global response plan, there was no response. On April 6, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and 164 other current and former presidents, prime ministers and numerous global figures including scientists urged urgent coordinated action to address the deepening global health and economic crisis but in vain.

Director-General of the World Health Organisation(WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is on record stating that the lack of global leadership and unity to fight the coronavirus is a bigger threat than the outbreak itself and that the politicization of the pandemic has made it worse.

Said an apparently frustrated Guterres each country for itself will only lead to further fractures, greater spread of the virus and it’s recurring return. In June Guterres had voiced his dismay at the gridlock in a time of global crisis ”We see the very dysfunctional relationship that exists today between the United States-China, United States-Russia makes it practically impossible for the Security Council to take any meaningful decision that would be fundamental to fight COVID-19 effectively”, he told non-profit media organization, NPR.

The Security Council struggled for months before it finally passed a unanimous resolution, the first one, on July 1, 2020 that demanded “ immediate cessation of hostilities “ in conflict zones around the world. It called for all parties to armed conflicts to engage immediately in a durable human pause for at least 90 consecutive days to allow for delivery of humanitarian assistance and medical evacuations. It pertains to conflicts including those in Syria, Yemen, Libya, South Sudan and Congo but does not apply to military operations against ISIS and Al-Qaida.

The US and China squabbled over reference to the World Health Organisation, which is an agency of the UN. In April President Trump suspended US funding of the WHO and has announced that the US would withdraw its membership effective July 6, 2021. The State Department pushed for any references to the organization to be removed from the ceasefire resolution. The US wanted the resolution instead to speak of “transparency”. China, meanwhile, wanted to specifically mention the WHO. The final resolution made no reference to either.

Pointing to the global inequalities as exposed by the anti-racism protests and the proliferating coronavirus former socialist prime minister of Portugal and present Secretary-General of the UN, Guterras warned “we are at breaking point”. Delivering the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on July 18 , he said that the 26 richest people in the world hold as much wealth as half the global population and there are numerous other inequalities alongside pertaining to race, gender, class and place of birth. ”While we are all floating on the same sea, it’s clear that some are in superyachts while others are clinging to floating debris”, he said stating that COVID-19 was like an X-ray which had revealed the fractures in society as rich countries have failed to deliver the support needed to help the developing world bringing home the tragic disconnect between self-interest and the common interest. The coronavirus has infected more than 15 million people and there have been 644,000 known deaths worldwide, according to a Reuters tally with the figures still mounting by the hour. The UN has appealed for help from the global fraternity of nations but the response remains far short of expectations.

Toxic leaders make for poisoned nations and selfish nations make for an orphaned world!

(Courtesy: Wordsmiths and Newsplumbers - L.K. Mishra’s Blog)

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