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New Social Compact

The drug market between affluent societies and social despair

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A few months ago, the World Drug Report 2020 was published, which assessed the development trends of the global drug market over the last ten years, and specifically highlighted the impact of Covid-19 on the drug market.

The pattern of population growth can partly explain the reasons for the market expansion. Drug abuse has increased worldwide, both in terms of overall number and share of drug users in the world population.

In 2009, it was estimated that there were 210 million drug users, accounting for 4.8% of the world’s population aged 15-64, compared to 269 million ones in 2018, accounting for 5.3% of the population.

Over the past two decades, drug abuse in developing countries has grown much faster than in developed countries. To some extent, this reflects the difference in overall population growth during this period – 7% in developed countries and 28% in developing countries – but it also highlights the rapid growth of the young population in developing countries.

Teenagers and young adults account for the largest proportion of drug users. During the 2000-2018 period, in developing countries population in this age group increased by 16%, while the population in this age group decreased by 10% in developed countries.

Urbanisation has become a driving factor for the current and future drug market. In both developed and developing countries, there are more drug users in urban areas than in rural areas. Part of the reason for the overall increase in drug use is the large-scale migration of people from rural to urban areas: over half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, up from 34% in 1960. Urbanisation may be a key factor in the future drug market dynamics, especially in developing countries where urbanisation trends are more evident.

Increased wealth is associated with increased drug use, but poor people bear the greatest burden of diseases related to drug use. Worldwide, drug abuse is more common in developed countries than in developing ones. Drugs such as cocaine are more closely associated with the wealthiest regions in the world. Similarly, within countries, the prevalence of drug abuse among the wealthy segments of society is relatively high. However, people with a lower socio-economic status are more likely to be affected by disorders related to drug abuse.

Data from some countries show that there is a connection between patterns of harmful drug use and diseases typical of low-income groups. These patterns appear to be less common in wealthier social classes.

The economic constraints imposed by the global Covid-19 crisis are likely to exacerbate risks for the most vulnerable groups, including drug users. For example, changes in the labour market, such as rising unemployment, have been connected to the subsequent increase in drug use and a fortiori the epidemic has forced tens of millions of people around the world to lose their jobs while seeking refuge in dangerous havens at low prices, but with highly fatal consequences.

Covid-19 could lead to a further expansion of the drug market. The pandemic may induce more farmers and crofters to increase or engage in illegal crop cultivation, both because of the reduced control ability of national authorities and because more people may decide to bear the risk of engaging in illegal activities during the economic crisis.

The pandemic-related restrictions have led to a reduction in air and land traffic – hence maritime traffic has increased. The risk of interception at sea is low and the number of smuggled goods is higher than by air or land. It has recently been reported that cocaine is being shipped directly from South America to Europe by sea.

The emergence of internationally uncontrolled substances is stable, but new types of potentially harmful opioids are increasing. The drug market is becoming increasingly complex. In addition to traditional substances such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin, hundreds of synthetic drugs have been added, many of which are not under international control. Non-professional use of drugs is also increasing rapidly. Every year there are about 500 new active substances on the States’ domestic markets.

At present, most of them are stimulants, followed by synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists and a small amount of opioids. Although the overall number of new psychoactive substances has levelled off and stabilised, the ratio has changed. Of the total number of new psychoactive substances identified in 2014, the new opioid psychoactive substances accounted for only 2%, but in 2018 their number had risen to 9%. Many of the new opioid psychoactive substances are analogues of fentanyl, whose efficacy and harm have been demonstrated, causing overdose deaths in North America and other regions, but to a lesser extent.

In North America, fentanyl is used as an excitatory drug for heroin and other drugs (including cocaine and methamphetamine), and some substances are used to produce counterfeit medicinal opioids. Some evidence shows that new injections of psychoactive stimulants are also circulating in Europe: a study of discarded syringe residues in six European cities found that many syringes are stained with new psychoactive substances that produce even more devastating effects.

The use of new psychoactive substances may gradually become firmly established among the most disadvantaged groups. A single type of new psychoactive substances has hardly formed a large market. Evidence from Europe, however, shows that synthetic cannabinoids are a severe problem among marginalised groups such as homeless and prisoners. There are twenty-two countries reported for the use of new psychoactive substances in prisons, most of them with synthetic cannabinoids identified as very dangerous.

The control of chemical precursors forces drug manufacturers to innovate. Many of the chemicals most commonly used as precursors to synthesise drugs such as amphetamine, methamphetamine and ecstasy have come under international scrutiny. Drug traffickers have sought alternatives – and not just scarcely regulated substances – but also chemicals specifically designed to circumvent regulations, the so-called “special precursors”.

Designed to prevent restrictive measures, it is likely that – with the spread of Covid-19 – drug production will depend on further compression of those chemical precursors. Evidence found even in Mexico shows that this has become a reality: reports suggest that in 2020 a shortage of methamphetamine precursors imported from East Asia caused an increase in the price of methamphetamine in Mexico and the United States.

The rate of change in the drug market has accelerated dramatically. Synthetic drugs are replacing opiates in Central Asia and the Russian Federation. Opioid markets in these two regions appear to have changed between 2008 and 2018.

The number of opiates intercepted by the Russian Federation’s authorities has decreased by 80% approximately, while the number of people receiving treatment for opioid use has dropped dramatically. The market for stimulants, however, seems to be expanding day by day. There is evidence that methamphetamine and various cathinones, including mephedrone and α-pyrrolidinyl-phenylpentanal, are now everywhere on the Russian drug market. The Russian authorities have reported that recently the number of clandestine laboratories for the production of various illegal drugs has increased significantly, and has more than doubled in two years, rising to 152 laboratories as early as 2018.

There is also a growth of the methamphetamine market in Afghanistan and Iraq. As early as 2012, surveys carried out on staff in hospitals, prisons and other institutions revealed the importance of methamphetamine in Iraq. Crystal methamphetamine has become another major drug of concern, besides fentanyl and tramadol. A study has further confirmed these findings, with drug users claiming that cannabis is more difficult to obtain than fentanyl or methamphetamine. Recently, Iraqi authorities have discovered several methamphetamine laboratories and concern has been expressed about the large imports of pseudoephedrine preparations: methamphetamine laboratories use these preparations as precursors.

In Afghanistan, methamphetamine production seems to have started in 2014. Since then, methamphetamine seizures have steadily increased. In the first half of 2019, however, seizures increased significantly compared to the previous year. Large seizures of methamphetamine – believed to have originated in Afghanistan – in other nations also show that production in that country is increasing rapidly.

As we can see, drugs have turned from means of distraction for the bored European world into an alternative for desperate people with no chance of job fulfilment.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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New Social Compact

The Death News of Sidharth Shukla: In the remembrance of Sidnaaz

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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.

Concluding Remarks

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.

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New Social Compact

4.1 billion lack social safety net

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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.”

In a new report the UN body acknowledged that the COVID-19 crisis had led to greater social protections worldwide, albeit mainly in wealthy countries.

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.

Regional imbalances

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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New Social Compact

Hell for Women?

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35-years-old woman and her daughter were raped by rickshaw driver and his accomplice in Lahore; On independence day of Pakistan, a TikToker was sexually harassed in Lahore; woman on rickshaw was harassed publically in Lahore and people were cheering; Noor Mukadam, daughter of a Diplomat, was brutally bumped off in Islamabad; a female school teacher was raped by owner of the school; a minor girl was raped by principal of seminary; a woman was gang raped by robbers in front of her family in Sheikhupura; a man with his three friends gang raped his fiancée and snatched jewelry; 16-years-old girl was raped by her stepfather in Lahore; mother of four children was raped in Bhagatpura; a 10-years-old was raped in Manwan; 17-years-old girl was raped after being promised a job; a minor girl was raped and sent to cemetery in Korangi; a woman was abducted and gang raped; an elderly woman was tortured, dragged and attempted to rape. Few cases have been quoted here. Sorrowfully, numerous other cases are remaining to be mentioned here. Unfortunately, a tiny figure of cases have been reported, still beaucoup cases are unreported.

Given obnoxious incidents give women sense of insecurity and uncertainty. Wretchedly, women in our society are deemed as prey and an open invitation by mad dogs (rapists) which they cannot evade and leave no stone unturned to assault them. The exponential rise in gender-based violence has proselytized our society into a hell for women, where they are considered as inferior segment of the society. This abysmal picture of our society adversely impacts our international image.

 The study conducted by Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, despite improving in women’s perception of community safety, still ranks Pakistan fourth among the worst countries for women to live in.

In accordance with the official data- collected from law enforcement agencies and human rights commission of Pakistan- at least 11 rape cases are reported regularly in Pakistan. More, the last six years data unearthed an icky tally of 22,000 cases registered to police in Pakistan. Dolefully, the conviction rate stood at 0.3% of total figure. 

Research conducted by Geo News revealed that only 41 per cent of cases have been reported to the Police. A police official estimated the actual number could be as high as 60,000 in last five years.

Furthermore, the Cyber Wing of the FIA in Lahore told that they have received 6,168 sexual harassment complaints out of total 14,108 in less than eight months. It further explained that mostly the complaints were lodged by University and College students relating to blackmailing by peers through the use of doctored videos and photographs.

Regarding violence against women, Punjab made up to 73 per cent of total cases, Ministry of Human Rights Toll-free helpline data showed. Besides, recent data by Punjab police divulged 1,890 rape cases and 88 gang-rape cases have been registered just in first six months of this year.

The reasons behind alarming rise in rape cases, which are mostly opined and observed personally, are rivalries, perpetrators remain scot-free, and incompetency of police.

In rivalries, various women have been raped because perpetrators think that it is better mean to smirch antagonist and avenge. As of the June of this year, when a boy tied love knot with daughter of an influential person, in avenge his mother 50-years-old was kidnapped, tortured, dragged, burned half-naked body with cigarette butts and attempted to rape by that influential people in Mazaffargarh. Exclusively, in village sides, women are raped in compensation, if victim’s father, brother or guardian has raped any girl.

Besides, since 2015, more than 22,000 cases of harassment have been registered to police, more than 4000 cases are still pending in the courts and only 18 per cent cases have managed to reach prosecution. Backlog of cases, takes too much time to provide justice to women and deter others to execute same. Thereby, executors remain unpunished and rape another woman with impunity. In some cases, rapists are granted pre-arrest bails. Afterwards, they threaten victim and her family to withdraw case; which fingers out the competency and justice of honorable courts and provides free space to those rapists to continue harassing women.

Apart from this, various cases are not reported due to family or social pressure, because they have to undergo another victimization. Karachi-based organization, War Against Rape (WAR), exposed that women who report the crime are coerced to visit male-dominated police stations and asked unnecessary questions that is why people remain silent and do not register complaints to shun answering gratuitous questions, which creates obstacle in the way of justice by sparing space to rapists.

Apart, victim blaming also desists victim to register complaint. Victim’s character is questioned, she is blamed for the rape and some misogynists and advocates of patriarchal society put allegations on victim giving illogical reasons. In consequence, victim find it easy to be silent rather than being pilloried countrywide and does not register her complaint, which indirectly paves the way for rapists to feel free from being brought to book and harass women whenever and wherever they want.

To counter this evil, Punjab Police has launched a safety App that will enable women to contact police through a message and it will enable Police to trace location of complainants through smart phones. Senior Police official assured that App will be launched in all districts of Punjab soon and a special squad will be formed soon in this regard. This initiative is praiseworthy and can be fruitful, if cooperated. All women should download this App so that in any emergency they can contact Police easily.

Additionally, separate courts for rape cases should be operational as soon as possible in order to evade years of pending cases. More medico-legal officers should be appointed to speed up medical process. Police should enforce all anti-harassment, anti-rape and anti-crimes against women laws and all women should be acquainted to these laws so that they can report crimes easily and immediately.

To sum up, society will remain hell for women, until our society is patriarchal and culprits remain scot-free. No society can be stable and prosperous, if women of that society are not secure and honored by every individual. If mentioned laws are implemented effectively, women of our society can live respectfully and society can be a heaven for them.

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