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

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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

Educating Women in Pakistan: A Necessity For National Development

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Photo: UNICEF/PAKISTAN/Asad Zaidi

Education is fundamental to the success of any nation. Almost every developed nation recognizes its importance and lays great emphasis on its availability to every human being.

Education brings out the meaning of life and enables a person to make sense of the world around him. While on the other hand, an illiterate person fails to comprehend the essence of life and lives in ignorance.

Pakistan, the sixth most populous country in the world has grappled with the grave situation of illiteracy almost from the time of its existence and has one of the lowest literary rates on the continent. To put it narrowly, approximately 40% of its female population has not even received education at all. Thus, the major chunk of its population remains backward, which otherwise if educated could have proven to be a major source of social and economic development.

Women’s education is inextricably linked to the well-being of society. A society comprises of both male and female members, and equally needs the contribution of women nearly as much as of men in maintaining and regulating its functions. However, women in Pakistan face great challenges in accessing education and are confined to play domestic roles only. Also, certain societies consider the education of women as taboo. This results in gender inequality and social disparity which ultimately impedes the growth of a nation.

Women, as a child bearer, not only holds great responsibility of proper upbringing of the child but also of a whole generation. This aspect can be underscored by the African proverb which says,

“If you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation.”

Therefore, an increase in the education of women can profoundly improve human development outcomes such as child survival, health, and schooling. Education can bring phenomenal change in women’s life as it increases their confidence and raises their status in family and society. It lends her voice which she can use to advocate her rights and also helps her to participate in political and social sciences. Pakistan cannot afford to neglect the education of women if it wants to modernize itself and until or unless its female population remains uneducated, it will continue to undermine the ideals of democracy that it so cherishes. There is no doubt that Pakistan is a country whose youth is imbued with great talents and if given adequate knowledge they can properly channel this talent to the country’s advantage. This can only be achieved if gender disparities in literacy and education attainment in rural and urban areas of Pakistan are removed.

Women are also regarded as the weaker segment of society but through education, they can change their weakness into strength. It is also seen that women’s education has a positive relationship with women’s labor force participation rate which can play a significant role in reducing poverty and can contribute to sustainable growth in a developing country like Pakistan itself. Therefore, the government should invest in the education sector and especially in women’s education. This should be on its priority list as it is necessary for national development and progress.

Hence, concrete steps should be taken to empower women by granting them equality and education so that Pakistan can set itself upon the path of success.

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New Social Compact

Reasons of societal disintegration in Pakistan’s society

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Societal disintegration also known as social disorganization can be described as the society’s inability to structure itself and determine the mutual values and norms that should be presiding in a society. Another approach sees is as a complex and interconnected system of communities, formal and informal associations in the socialization process.

There are many reasons that exist in a society giving rise to the societal disintegration, the main and the core cause is the disturbed and interrupted system of social communication and the structure that exist for the mutual assistance.  The society that is deprived of functional and far-sighted leadership without new ideas and strategies usually tend to fall in the process of social disintegration.  The society practicality and viability tends to falls with the existence of economic problems, dissolving formal and informal institutions, deteriorating interpersonal relationships and weakening of the values and norms. All these thus impact the mental and the physical wellbeing of the society and the people thoroughly involved in it. Thus putting the restrain on the growth, self-realization, self-reflection and acknowledgment.

The reason for this societal disintegration in Pakistani society can be various. These numerous reason might include some internal as well as external causes. For instance Democracy and the rule of law, judicial system and calculated and good governance which was the main building factor of the idea of new country after the partition went into oblivion as soon as the establishment of the country. The nexus that started between the military and the bureaucracy for power accumulation and the multiple Martial laws put constrain on the hope of Pakistanis to build a sustainable nation and it was reflected in the future engagements of the citizen of the state.

Another reason which triggers the societal disintegration was the history of disasters and violence that the citizens go through. For example the history of Pakistan is marked with a lot of resistance and sacrifices by the people and their forefathers. Even after the creation of Pakistan, it had to go through several wars to ensure its survival. The people of Pakistani society also faced this disturbed environment throughout the Great War on terror happening in the immediate neighborhood of Afghanistan. It was impacting Pakistan in several ways for instance military operation to combat terrorism in the region of FATA created an environment of hostility and chaos. Troubled neighborhood and the major inclusion of migrants from time to time and its sociological, economic and psychological impacts  is what Pakistan has faced since its establishment .So the environment in which the society exist and the history of disasters also increase the pace of societal disintegration.

Dysfunctional Education system can also contribute to be another major reason that is driving the societal disintegration. As the system lacks to provide the same and the equal opportunities for the children and women to seek the basic education in Pakistan.  The lack of uniform educational curriculum and the modes of education is building a stroke between the elites and the lower section of the societies. The disparities on the basis of different religion and social status is escalating the social disintegration in the societies. In terms of opportunities the presence of Nepotism instead of merit is also causing the lack of commitment to one’s own country.

Another reason that is contributing in the societal disintegration is the Cultural confusion also known as cultural dissonance reflecting the disharmony and the conflict and the confusion that people face due to the change in their cultural environment. In Pakistan it is seen in the province of Baluchistan, Gilgit Baluchistan and Pashtunistan. There still exist speculation for the ill treatment, less development and lack of opportunities for the Baloch’s and Gilgiti. This creates a difference among the people of different cultural and give rise to hostility towards one another thus leads to more and more societal disintegration to a point that they start to consider themselves alien to the society. The lack of tolerance and acceptance for other religions, ethnicities and culture will alienate people from one another and will limit them to certain boundaries thus making it difficult for them to grow sociological and psychological, consequently bounding them to only one sect, ethnicities or area. For societal integration one must be visionary and develop sense of acceptance and tolerance leaving a room to nurture and develop as an integrated society rather than fueling the societal disintegration.

As mention earlier about the migration it is important to study it is detail, the massive in and out migration also serves as a factor that lead Pakistan society to face societal disintegration. Many people in Pakistan still seek migration to the countries aboard for better job opportunities, living standards, better health and education and security level. In Pakistan the Pakistani diaspora that basically reflects the brain drain from the country are exceeding the numbers of more than 10 million, people residing in the countries other than their homeland for such luxuries reflect little to no commitment and responsibility to their culture and country. Similarly the great number of influx of migrants as a result  of GWOT also posed a challenge for national integration as they bought with them their culture, identity and problem thus making it difficult for citizens to actually achieve the sense of nationality thus leading to more culture confusion and disharmonization.

Those having power and other patrons in Pakistan who are living in their luxurious lifestyles and comfort zones they have this responsibility to observe and analyze and seek guidance from the other countries that how with the presence of diverse cultures, languages and religions, the process of national integration reached to its logical conclusion. But it is not possible in the absence of visionary leadership and the will to work honesty for the society and its harmonization, in absence of these values one cannot expect a country to remain united and integrated as a nation.

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New Social Compact

Global Health Security: The need for collective action

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Since the concept of nation-state has emerged, states’ primary goal is to ensure their survival and maximize their security in terms of wealth and power. But little attention has been paid to non-conventional issues specifically to public health. Health systems have always been neglected by states especially by those poor states that are already facing socio-economic issues.

In an era of globalization, where the world is more intact and interconnected, Global health has become a serious issue and an area of debate in contemporary world politics. If on one hand, globalization offers tremendous possibilities and opportunities then, on the other hand, it has made the transfer of disease quicker than ever. Therefore, keeping both negative and positive outcomes of globalization in mind, a special focus should be given to the health sector as well.

By special focus, I mean global solidarity for worldwide health security should be build where all states, irrespective of their self-interest, work together to combat global health issues including malnutrition,  communicable ( such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV, Covid-19), and non-communicable diseases (such as cancer, diabetes). In the past, all these infectious diseases specifically communicable diseases had a disturbing impact on humans and the overall economy of the global world. In the contemporary world, the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused the deaths of 3.74 million people since late 2019, has become an overwhelming threat to Global health. Not only has it affected the physical and mental health of individuals but the socio-economic conditions of states as well.

United Nations under Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goal is trying to tackle the problems of global health. World Health Organization is supervising the objectives that are set under this goal and is trying to work with states to readiness for pandemics and other health emergencies. Many other health projects have also been initiated to further the aim of the United Nations for global health. But still, the world needs more awareness programs especially in the third world countries where the situation of Covid-19 is much worst. Lack of awareness in such countries has given rise to many myths related to tackling the Covid-19 virus and its vaccination. People are reluctant to take the vaccine because they believe that either they will become infertile or die within weeks after getting vaccinated. Such people need education and for that, collective action is required. Not only world institutions but states, societies, leaders, the whole of their response are required to limit the spread of diseases.

Global health security should be considered as a shared responsibility of all states because in this interconnected world no one is safe until everyone is safe. This pandemic for which the world was unprepared, as the health sector was not prioritized, has shown us the real picture of the devastation of the global economy, global health, and human suffering. It has taught us how neglecting health systems could change the world upside down. So, to prevent any other future pandemics, we need to draw attention to the disparities that exist in different countries, try to solve them, bring awareness and make global health security a priority through collective action. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

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