Amid our self-isolations, quarantines, and lockdowns in the face of COVID-19, the earth is breathing a sigh of relief. We have been fighting for its resources and disrupting its ecosystem, thinking we are making it more livable. While doing so, we killed millions of people and made many of the species extinct that shared the planet with us.
Now with the wars on hold and factories shut, the killing has stopped and skies are so clear as if the industrial revolution never took place. Warships are docking and belligerents on all sides of conflicts are implementing measures to contain the coronavirus.
But like past pandemics, this one, too, will be over. Development of vaccines and our herd immunity is just months away, after which we will revert to being ourselves. With livelihoods at stake, factories will gear into action as soon as there is the slightest respite from the virus.
Earth’s lungs will forthwith resume inhaling the emissions from these factories’ chimneys. Just as COVID-19, in its most extreme case, collapses lungs of those with depressed immunity, we will once again set out to test earth’s ability to fight the invasive nature of our manufacturing methods.
The desire for reigniting economic growth will surpass all other objectives since that is how the global economic model has been built. With the demand for higher production at the lowest possible cost, environmental protection is hardly catered for in the matrix. The compromise on our planet’s health is the highest cost excessive industrialization pays.
Profits will retake their place above everything else – over the sustainability of businesses, over the wellbeing of people. Caring for the environment will return to being somebody else’s problem who can, supposedly, reverse all effects of our pillaging, even if responsible countries withdraw from commitments like the Paris Accord on climate change.
That is one fallacy of multipartisan systems where a completely new set of policies and ideals have to take over every four years or so. Politicians in such frameworks are compelled to deliver immediate results, brushing aside longterm effects of their decisions. What happens after their tenure concludes, is supposed to be somebody else’s problem.
Apart from the war with our planet, we will also resume wars with each other. The new coronavirus, an invisible but common enemy of mankind, has put these conflicts on pause and given us an opportunity to reflect upon their rationale. The decision to press the play button will remain to be ours.
How long will it take for us to appreciate the virus’s inability to distinguish between the right and the wrong side in a war is a question of debate. Some countries, with bloated militaries, will continue to ignore our shared vulnerabilities despite gaining a first-hand experience of getting infected. In all likelihood, their fixation on solving the world’s problems with force will not heal.
To run our industries, we will keep competing for resources. Like village neighbors sparring over a passing stream of water, global conflicts seldom take the course of arbitration. The arrangement of international governance will perpetuate giving the right to the might.
Then there are the blows over ideologies that will continue to be exchanged. We had not learned to accept the viability of multiple political systems before the outbreak, nor are we expected of doing so any time soon.
Ideological battles historically emanated from religious differences. By the early twentieth century, they shifted to the capitalist vs communist tussle during the Cold War. Today the feud persists as a mix of quest for religious and political dominance.
Perceiving the COVID-19 threat as existential, most of the world has put ideological disagreements behind. Nations with all kinds of societal systems are assisting each other as the pandemic engulfs one after another. Once this threat departs, we risk getting back to subverting each other over our differing schools of thought.
Besides the bleak future painted above, there definitely is a silver lining. Social engagement that we took for granted in our daily lives was the first casualty of the contagion. Immediately after surmounting this challenge, there will be a boom in social activity as we will rush to meet our dear ones.
This is a classic example of realizing the value of something once it’s gone. Isolation has had a significant impact on our mental states. Achieving a level of normalcy would require getting near to people, spending time with those we missed, and, most importantly, going outdoors.
Past pandemics did not radically alter the collective human behavior. This one isn’t expected to either. For better or for worse, we will get back to being ourselves. Though by confining us to our homes, Mother Nature has given us a chance to come out of this calamity with a resolve of making a positive change.
Prevent gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies
Top UN officials met in the margins of the 76th General Assembly on Thursday, with a strong call to action to stamp out gender-based violence (GBV), amid a rise in forced displacement and other humanitarian emergencies around the globe.
GBV includes acts that inflict physical, sexual or mental harm – or other forms of suffering, coercion and limits on personal freedoms – and has “long-term consequences on the sexual, physical and psychological health of survivors”, according to the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA).
These are being driven increasingly by conflict, climate change, famine and insecurity, heightening vulnerabilities for girls and women.
‘Willingness to act’
UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem told the meeting on Localizing GBV in humanitarian crises, that peace, justice and dignity are the “birthright of every woman and girl”.
She spoke of the agency’s “clear and ambitious” 2021-2025 Roadmap, which reflects a shared vision and underscored the need to create new pathways to ensure those rights.
Emphasizing the need for accountability “to ourselves and each other”, Ms. Kanem said that as the lead UN agency on the issue, “UNFPA is committed to standing strong”.
She said there was a strong will to act, “to do something about gender-based violence”, she added, stressing the importance of putting the voices of women “at the heart of what we do”
Ms. Kanem pledged to funnel 43 per cent of UNFPA’s humanitarian funding to national and local women’s organizations, saying “now more than ever, they need us”.
Afghanistan: ‘Important reminder’
Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths called the situation in Afghanistan “an important reminder of the primary vulnerability of women and girls in crises”.
He highlighted the vital role of women-led local communities, pointing out that they act as first responders to crisis.
Recalling a recent trip to Ethiopia, where he heard first-hand accounts of the traumas suffered by women in Tigray, he said that it was the local communities who first responded to the atrocities, which underscores the “absolute importance” of listening to women, protecting women and girls, and “protecting local communities to do what they naturally want to do”.
The protection of women is one of the least-funded parts of the humanitarian programme, Mr. Griffiths said.
Getting the word out
Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said to deliver on “the ambitious call to action”, it is important to “get the word out” to the girls and women on the ground about the services available.
“This has not been clear at all”, Ms. Fore stated.
The report highlighted that the needs of women and girls are either ignored or treated as an afterthought; and that despite being on the front lines of humanitarian crises, women are not taken seriously enough.
And although the demand for GBV services has increased during COVID, the resources have not, said Ms. Fore, calling for greater support for local women’s groups, including financially.
Fighting GBV is an important priority for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), High Commissioner Filippo Grandi assured participants, especially in situations of forced displacements, which are “rife” with opportunities.
He acknowledged that during humanitarian crises as everyone is moving quickly, too often the critical role of local women’s organizations are overlooked.
The top UNHCR official said that providing “substantive, flexible, direct and rapid” resources to women-led, community-based organizations without undue red tape is “one of the most important” ways to empower them.
He conceded however, “this is a difficult call” as humanitarian funding is follow the trend of being “bureaucratized”.
The Death News of Sidharth Shukla: In the remembrance of Sidnaaz
For most individuals, the death news of Sidharth Shukla seems implausible. Sidharth Shukla, popular actor, and 13 winner Bigg Boss died on Thursday 2 September suffering a severe cardiac arrest at Cooper Hospital in Mumbai. Actor Sidharth constantly challenged the odds in his profession. For many in the TV and movie sector, it is a last-ditch and sometimes fruitless effort to stop a slide into irrelevance in the popular reality program Bigg Boss. But Shukla was the household name that became a feather reality TV sensation for himself who won the 13th show edition in 2019. For the first time, Shukla entered the television limelight, working on BalikaVadhu (2012), in which he tried the part of District Collector Shivraj Shekhar. Shukla portrayed the character throughout the space of three years and won several accolades. A few whiles later, in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014), he was reputed to a costar, once again receiving acclaim. Born and reared up in Mumbai, Shukla began as a model by taking a position as a leader in the Manhunt and Mega model Gladrags contests and then starred in Bajaj and ICICI Banking television commercial campaigns. Shortly thereafter, he premiered on Babul Ka Aangann Chootey Na, followed by a range of dramatic TV shows such as CID and Aahat, which include criminal dramas. In 2016 Khatron Ke Khiladi won Fear Factor as well. Shukla has also been a popular television host with such series as Savdhaan India and the Got Talent 6 of India. His death caused a shock to the television and film industries.
Police authorities in Mumbai claimed that at around 9 a.m. before death, Shukla complained about cardiac pressure in his home in Oshivara, Mumbai. At that time, his sister, his mother, and brother-in-law were in the house. A physician who came to the house found that he was pulseless. “The family went to Dr. RN Cooper hospital and requested an ambulance. They reached about 9.45 am and before admission he had been proclaimed dead.” The Forensic department leader, Dr. R Sukhdev, verified that on Thursday morning, Shukla was brought dead. The afternoon postmortem exam was performed. No external damage on his body was detected before the autopsy by physicians and police. The Dean of Dr. RN Cooper Hospital, Dr. Sailesh Mohite, refused to comment on the autopsy findings.
Many Celebertities Condolences
“Siddharth, gone too soon. You’ll be missed…” said Actor Salman Khan, who gave him the trophy of Bigg Boss. Kapil Sharma TV comedy host tweeted, “Oh god, it is truly shocking, my condolences to the family, and prayers for the the departed soul” Several TV and film fraternity members, like Rajkummar Rao, came to Mumbai to pay their final honors in Shukla Residence. On Friday his last rites will be conducted.
Shehnaaz Gill on Sidharth Shukla death
Sources close to the actor and individuals who went to his house and told Sidharth Shukla’s family that Shehnaaz is in a condition of shock and cannot cope with his loss today. Source further stated Shehnaaz was deeply impacted by the untimely death of the Balika Vadhu actor. Shehnaaz was very near to Sidharth, and she frequently publicly demonstrated her affection for him. Her compassion and caring for him never shied away. She said she was even in love with him openly. Fans liked their duo much after BB 13, and invented their moniker with affection, Sidnaaz. In two recent programs, Back-to-Back Bigg Boss OTT and Dances Deewane 3, the reported couple had featured.
Sidharth Shukla breathed his last in Shehnaaz Gill’s arms
Sidharth was still complaining of discomfort, and Shehnaaz and his mother begged him to relax. Sidharth was unable to sleep, on the other hand; thus Shehnaaz was requested to remain with him and pat on his back. Sidharth lay on the lap of Shehnhaaz at 1:00 a.m., and the latter walked away gently. She slept, too, and when she woke up at 7am, she found Sidharth sleeping in the same position without moving, and he didn’t stir when she tried to wake him up. From the 12th story to the fifth level, where his family resided, Shehnaaz was terrified and hurried. She notified Sidharth’s sister and phoned their doctor of the family, who told Sidharth that he hadn’t been there anymore.
Ye ‘Dil’ hai Muskil
Why are young people suffering from heart attacks? The death of Siddharth Shukla, 40 years old, has stunned everyone. Initial stories indicating that a heart attack is the reason for Thursday’s death were killed, along with the big boss winner Season-13. In recent times, heart disease has been a worry for health professionals among young Indian people. The question is why in very young age groups in India there has been an increase in cardiac attack.
The greatest way I can escape the trap of thinking that you have anything to lose is to remember that you will die. No excuse to not follow your heart. Nobody wants to die. Nobody wants to die. Such people don’t even want to die to go to paradise to get there. And yet death is our common destination. Nobody has ever avoided it and this is why death is perhaps the finest invention of existence. Life is the agent of transformation. The old one is clearing way for the new one.
Death is, however tragic, probably God’s most beautiful creation. Death is merely another trip; birth and life will never take place without death. It’s unavoidable to lose somebody. Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, illustrates this wonders: Death is transitory and the meaning of life and death. Death is temporary. Death is a normal part of life, we have to realize. Death gives life its full significance. Let life be like summer flowers, let life be lovely and death be like fall leaves. But would it not be much easier to face our own mortality, rather than being unhappy, knowing that our life has been fully and without regret? Even if we don’t want to go to die, it’s just as unavoidable for the sun at night. In conclusion, when your time comes, you don’t have to die happy but you need to die satisfied, since from start to finish you have lived your life.
4.1 billion lack social safety net
More than four billion people live without any welfare protection today to cushion them from crisis, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday, while highlighting how the COVID-19 crisis has pushed up government spending by some 30 per cent.
Leading the call for countries to extend social safety nets far more widely than they do now, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder insisted that such a move would help future-proof workers and businesses in the face of new challenges.
“This is a pivotal moment to harness the pandemic response to build a new generation of rights-based social protection systems,” said Mr. Ryder.
“These can cushion people from future crises and give workers and businesses the security to tackle the multiple transitions ahead with confidence and with hope. We must recognize that effective and comprehensive social protection is not just essential for social justice and decent work but for creating a sustainable and resilient future too.”
It noted that only 47 per cent of the global population are covered by at least one social protection benefit, while only one in four children has access to national welfare safety nets.
Newborns’ needs unmet
Further research indicated that only 45 per cent of women with newborns worldwide receive a cash benefit, while only one in three people with severe disabilities receive a disability benefit.
Coverage of unemployment benefits is even lower, ILO said, with only 18.6 per cent of jobless workers effectively covered globally.
On retirement welfare, the UN body found that although nearly eight in 10 people receive some form of pension, major disparities remain across regions, between rural and urban areas and women and men.
The ILO report underscores the significant regional inequalities in social protection.
Europe and Central Asia have the highest rates of coverage, with 84 per cent of people having access to at least one benefit.
Countries in the Americas are also above the global average (64.3 per cent), in stark contrast to welfare roll-out in Asia and the Pacific (44 per cent), the Arab States (40 per cent) and Africa (17.4 per cent).
Highlighting differences in government spending on social protection, ILO said that high-income countries spend 16.4 per cent of national turnover (above the 13 per cent global average, excluding health), while low-income countries budget just 1.1 per cent.
Billions more needed
The UN body noted that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have had to increase spending massively to ensure minimum social protection for all, by around 30 per cent.
And it maintained that to guarantee basic social protection coverage, low-income countries would need to invest an additional $77.9 billion per year, lower-middle-income countries an additional $362.9 billion and upper-middle-income countries a further $750.8 billion annually. That’s equivalent to 15.9 per cent, 5.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent of their GDP, respectively.
“There is an enormous push for countries to move to fiscal consolidation, after the massive public expenditure of their crisis response measures, but it would be seriously damaging to cut back on social protection; investment is required here and now,” said Shahra Razavi, Director, ILO Social Protection Department.
Underscoring the multiple benefits of social welfare protection, Ms. Razavi insisted that it could promoted “better health and education, greater equality, more sustainable economic systems, better managed migration and the observance of core rights…The benefits of success will reach beyond national borders to benefit us all”.
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