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New Social Compact

Re-thinking International Community in the era of Covid-19

Brandon Firman Cahyadi

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When it first appeared, nobody will expect the tremendous impact of the new version of coronavirus. Prior the outbreak, the world was so busy to determine what and how to stimulate the global economic slowdown in the new decade. Lot of talks organized by the UN to regulate global economic system and many multilateral projects prepared to welcome China as the new superpower. We are still remembered the last global issues that provoke international attention was the climate strike actions inspired from Greta Thurnberg. Other than that, last thing I remembered from the media were always about day-to-day blunder by the Donald Trump policies. But the world I know has change in a blinked.

January, 7 marked as an important date in the book of modern world history when WHO firstly identified a new version of coronavirus, further, people will always be easy to remember twenty-twenty (2020) as the period of “Covid-19 tragedy”. When China decided to locked Wuhan, the world still have a time to think how they can save the economy. Assuming that the crisis in China will affecting the global supply chain and resulted with economic collapse. But day after day the disease are getting worse, I was seen how Chinese were struggled to survive from the disease. At that time, it was like a film, seeing ton of people infected by a new virus that no expert had to deal with.

I might be right that lot of people has a same feeling like me when seeing this outbreak. I was wondering like ‘is it real? Or it’s just a nightmare?’. When the virus starts to transmitted to another countries, it woke people up that it is a ‘real nightmare’. The WHO call for global emergency when the number of infected from the virus was over 10.000 people. Yet, there are only several cases with no confirmation of death by the virus outside of the China. However, the virus grows exponentially until finally the WHO considered Covid-19 as a pandemic disease in March, 13. At that time, the number of infected was over 150.000 people and around 6.000 deaths toll reported. The number of cases were much higher than the previous coronavirus of MERS and SARS combined.

When the virus spreading beyond the border, the domino effect of public panic happened all over the world. At this time the world starts to realized that it’s not the ‘crisis in China’ or so forth, but it is a ‘global crisis’ that might be turns out into the global recession. We have seen collective chaos and panic buying in the big city around the world, Southeast Asian facing lack of mask as people tries to prevents P-to-P transmission, and European were anxiety due to limited toilet papers in the market.

The virus carries no flag

No Italian ever imagined how their country changed in a real quick. A week before total lockdown in Italy, some people in European might see the pandemic as a regular flu, ‘it’s just a flu’, they’ve said. Until they finally realized that this pandemic could really make Italy close its country, this made Italy as the first liberal democracy country that adopted the lockdown policy. We are never imagined how could it be, in the modern era of democracy people are prohibited to move freely under the Italian military monitor for 24/7. But that was inevitable.

The panic is become surreal when the virus has infected the top policymakers around the world. The vice president of Iran, Australian Minister of Home Affairs, UK junior health minister, French Minister of Culture and Indonesian Minister of Transportation were among the examples of it. It means that premium security that those people had cannot prevents the virus to coming in. If those figure with high-quality healthcare and security were able to infected, how about people that using public transportation day after day? or those who living their life in the crowd places like traditional market and public services? We are all vulnerable, so that I am totally agree with Emmanuel Macron and Moon Jae-in have said that we are in the war against the virus.

Yes, you might heard from your minister of health that this virus not as deathly as SARS or MERS. But the number of Covid-19 victim are much higher than both combined, so we are not supposed to treat this virus like a regular flu. For some cases, this requiring us to change our culture and behavior. For example, the Italian government banned kissing for its people, Italian Head of Civil Protection Angelo Borrelli, admitted that it seems unnatural for Italian not to kiss or hug each other. But this was the best policy for its people.

The Government around the world promoting the social distancing approach to prevents surge in Covid-19 sufferer. International events that gathering lot of people were canceled, even the virus had been affecting the sports industry globally. NBA, Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, J-league and most of all sports event postponed during the outbreak. I’m never seen this happen since the World War II. Even in China, sports centers, exhibition halls and other local venues turns into makeshift hospital for the victim.

Call For Global Solidarity

As the virus spreads beyond the geo-political landscape, it is important for all leaders around the world to measure strategic vision to recover from the disease. We all know that economic disparity could hamper the battle against the virus. Take a look at what China President Xi Jinping  have acted, he calls for country’s tech sector to help battle the pandemic. In order to minimize the risk of cross-infection, Chinese firm developed an automated robot that enable to do contactless sprayed disinfectant, autopilot-delivery and help medical staff. China also utilizing their sophisticated AI technology to identify infected individuals in a crowd. Not to mention South Korea tech with its advance mobile app to mapped people with infected of the virus. This is something that developing countries couldn’t even imagine.

To put developing country into perspective, Indonesian case is pretty much ironic. The first problem is that the people of Indonesia have a trust issue with their government. Most of us accused that the government were underdiagnose the patient, means that official case of Covid-19 in Indonesia allegedly was not represented the real number of Covid-19 patients. Government inability to provide transparent data have reducing public trust for the government, this resulted to inefficient public participatory to contain the virus. Even more, people are questioning on Indonesian medical readiness to battle the pandemic, there are several suspect cases that was abandoned by the hospital due to its lack of ability. So Indonesian was not even think about the automated robot or sophisticated mobile app, they are just insisted the government to better serve them, at least in a standard medical procedure.

Considering country’s different abilities to handle this pandemic, if we want to recover our earth, there is no other solution could help this issue other than international cooperation and/or global solidarity. WHO take the lead to spread the awareness and possible recommendations for countries to put local issues in the helicopter view. Furthermore, world leaders need to have a broad sense of internationalism when dealing with this virus, no country could handle this outbreak alone. It is the right time for us re-united as a global society, as Tedros Adhanom have said “we are in this together to protect the citizens of the world”. All the more, global emergency status ideally harsh enough to postpone World Bank’s, ADB’s or IMF’s unnecessary infrastructural program, and started to focus on the economy impact of the coronavirus.

Brandon completed his internship as research assistant at Center for Indonesian Policy Studies. He holds BA in international relations with specialization of human security, diplomacy and peace studies. He was founded a student-based think-tank organization namely Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia, Universitas Islam Indonesia (FPCI UII) where he was acted as the President. Currently he is acting as Media Analyst in Jakarta.

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New Social Compact

Coronavirus Social Distancing Does Not Mean Emotional Distancing

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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As we continue to observe social distancing, we also have to keep reminding ourselves, social distancing does not mean emotional distancing.   In other words, we must continue supporting friends, neighbors, those in need of help.  If we have hoarded food with panic buying and others are running short, now is the time to share.

Actualizing man’s natural impulse for generosity is frequently a religious tenet.  Congregations at Sikh temples purchase, prepare and offer food to all comers.  The Buddhist monk carries an empty bowl filled over the course of the day for his victuals.  Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam.  It requires a distribution of 2.5 percent of annual income in excess of needs.

Pakistan is an Islamic Republic.  It is a poor developing country.  Yet as described in a recent BBC News story, the generosity of common people is helping day laborers survive during the coronavirus crisis when the country is in lockdown.

Day laborers as the term implies pick up jobs by the day, the daily income feeding them and their families.  Under lockdown, work has stopped and such jobs have vanished with dire consequences for those who depended upon them.

So it is that people can be seen standing around grocery stores attempting to fulfill their zakat obligations through offers of food or money to those in need.  What could have become a disastrous choice of either dying from hunger or the coronavirus has been averted.

Pakistan is one of six countries in the world where zakat is mandated and collected by the government from those having bank accounts and tax returns.  These resources have been converted swiftly into rations of basics like lentils, flour and oil, and distributed to those in need.  Collecting zakat happens also to identify those who are not obliged to offer it; in other words, the poor. 

Add to this the efforts of countless individuals on a person-to-person basis, and, although a poor developing country, Pakistan contributes over 1 percent of GDP to charity — a figure that compares well with much wealthier countries like Canada (1.2 percent) or the UK (1.3 percent).  Moreover, this duty to help is ingrained in the peoples’ psyche, and 98 percent are involved in one form or another, if not with cash, then in kind, or through volunteering their time.

India’s charitable contributions as a percent of GDP amount to half of Pakistan’s.  Its day laborers’ macabre Hobson’s choice of death by coronavirus or starvation in the lockdown led the politically acute Mr. Modi to go around apologizing to these 450 million voters for his extreme measure.  He has also introduced a $22 billion stimulus package last week that promises to deliver basics like lentils and grains to India’s 800 million poor for three months. 

Zakat is an Arabic word meaning ‘that which purifies’.  If money is filthy lucre, then it certainly does.  More so, generosity imparts a sense of well-being.

Does this sense of well-being from charitable giving translate into happiness?  It so happens the 2020 World Happiness Index rankings (Figure 2.1) were published on March 20.  Pakistan’s ranking rose from 75 to 66 while India fell further from 125 to 144 out of 153 countries in total.  This year the Happiness Report also ranks cities for happiness (Figure 3.1).  Again the Pakistani major cities of Karachi (ranked 117) and Lahore (122) are far above India’s capital Delhi (180) scoring close to #186 at dead last.

It seems we must always be wary of emotional distancing.  Unlike Cain, we are our brothers’ keepers. 

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New Social Compact

Landscape ahead seems gloomy

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Many conspiracy theories are circulating in the media, and each one having its strong logic is very difficult not to believe. Similarly, blame games are ongoing in the media. Everyone is so confident that his allegations are the facts. Social media is also causing a lot of terror, fear, and panic. It is complicated for an ordinary person to judge what truth is?

Based on available information and consensus, I am convinced that the COVID-19 is not a natural virus; it was a human-made product developed in the laboratory. Many questions arise in my mind, and I believe many other people might have similar queries in their minds. Who conceived this idea? And Why? What were the aims and objectives in his/ her mind? Who has funded? Who has conducted the research and developed it? How was it transported and spread among the humankind? Is someone or group was used as a tool for launching contagious virus?

A movie was released in 2011, telling the story of contagious virus spreading in China, creates a lot of queries itself. Transfer of Coronavirus from Bates to the human body is also hard to believe as the people are drinking bats soup for ages. Moreover, Wuhan is not the city famous for Sea-food or bats consumption.  Many similar conflicting theories are available on the internet.

Pandemic has already victimized 1,056,163individuals, and the death toll has reached 55,766, while the total number of recovered persons has also reached 223,901 (statistics subject to change over time). 203 Countries, regions, and territories have been infected, only a few countries either having no capability to test or deliberately hiding the information.

The worrisome is that it is still growing and spreading; the number of new cases is increasing rapidly, while the death toll is also on rise. How long will it remain on increasing? When to overcome it? What will be our future?

The direct death toll due to the virus may be limited, but the post-pandemic consequences may become more severe, and for a prolonged period, even the infection is brought under control. The economic activities are halted, the routine life is disturbed, and factories are closed. Pandemic may cause irreparable damage to the economy.  Industry will suffer, businesses will suffer, and the whole global economy may suffer. Individual might lose jobs, SMEs may be closed down. Poverty may reach peaks never witnessed before in the history.

The landscape of geopolitics looks gloomy. Some of the nations might be wiped out entirely, and some might lose the status quo while some other countries may climb up. Loss of lives, wealth, resources, in addition to some unexpected challenges, may come across. It is rather too early to predict something definite, but it is understood that if we do not take appropriate actions in time, the late repentance may not rescue us.

There is no cure, no vaccine for COVID-19. The only thing possible is to contain its spread is limiting social contacts and quarantine. Those who are having good health with strong immunity may recover soon. The weak, sick, aged people and people with low resistance may be severe victim of COVID-19. Medical facilities, like ventilators, are vital for rescuing victims.

All governments are struggling hard to contain Coronavirus, but facing limitations of resources. At the public level, we all individuals also have a responsibility to keep social distance, practice hygienic lifestyle, and eat healthy food. All of us have a responsibility to implement the precautions to ourselves and upon our dependents, minors, elders, relatives, neighborhoods, etc. We should help the needy individuals in our close circle or knowns and communities. Nations who can afford must help the needy countries around the globe and extend material, financial, and moral support to the nations who deserve it. Keeping the politics aside, we should be more generous, kind, and support all humankind to struggle against the pandemic.

Media may also play a constructive role by educating masses, training, and propagating preventive measures. The press must eliminate fake news, misinformation, and negativism. Fear and panic may not be promoted, as panic may further complicate the situation.

Contagious virus COVID-19 is a real threat to humankind, and we may fight against it collectively, smartly and bravely.

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New Social Compact

Coronavirus: An Act Of God Or Humans

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Corona virus started in Wuhan China and has spread all over the world; almost thousands of people have been killed due to this deadly virus. China though has been able to control the situation and Wuhan is turning back to its hustle bustle. But the spread of this deadly virus has changed the social and economic realities of this modern world. Around 200 countries have been affected  due to corona virus  , from New York to Islamabad states are locking down cities to curb the spread of this deadly virus , but still humans are clueless what is happening to them .

During this panic situation many conspiracies have been emerging and fake news with mix of facts are on rise. Many around the world are blaming the China and USA; the term Bio-Weapons is being used all around the world. American President Trump has termed virus as Chinese virus several times while addressing media and some Chinese state officials have pointed toward CIA is involve in spreading this virus in Wuhan.

A novel recently was being circulated which mentioned that in 2020 a lungs virus will affect whole world, many think that this virus is manmade and has been deliberately spread for greater objectives , many argue that this is part of USA strategy to stop the rise of china , after the spread of virus Chinese’s citizens are being seen as a source of virus . At the moment people around the globe are divided into two very groups, one believe that this is an act of humans, as the south Korean movie released in 2018 also predicted the same virus and same scenario, mere coincidence or a deliberate effort .Though the history of humans and envoy could be the source of new weapons of war, Bio-weapons are also a reality   and have been developed.

These viruses are part of nontraditional security threats which every state is facing at the moment, the dynamics of warfare in modern world are changing.  A virus originated from Wuhan has locked down the whole world, around 30000 plus have been killed and around 1 million are diagnosed positive. Italy  is on the top of the list of most affected nations around the globe , they have lost around 10000 people since virus spread , Iran  , Spain , USA also are among the top affected states . Somehow  those who have believe in that this virus is an act of humans are way large in number as due to media humans are programmed to think in this way .

Then after that there are also official versions from china that this virus has spread from Wuhan’s animal market where 57 old women contracted it from pangolin and she was termed as patient zero by Chinese government. According to Chinese official version this virus is an act of nature and china will make sure to deflect corona virus blame.

Whoever Man or God did , this virus and its impact would change the future of our world  , in coming days it impact on global economy and security would be seen in different ways , this virus has many hidden lessons which will uncover themselves in coming days . The one most important observatory fact is that this world is truly heading toward Globalization, all the states are going through same problems due to this virus and a collective effort would help to resolve this issue from New York to Islamabad.

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