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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

Natural Indications and solutions of weakened immunity within rampancy of Covid

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Worldwide different approaches have been taken to restrict the Covid-19 virus. Lockdowns have been immensely attributed to reducing the spread of Covid-19 almost everywhere on earth. Since last year lockdown bars people to visit doctors unless there is such a health emergency. Sometimes clinics and health care centers even stood as the hotspot for virus spread, turning the public extra cautious to visit those. People mostly remain confined in the home – “stay home stay safe”, “work from home”, “self-isolating”, “quarantine” are the most adhered phrases for masses irrespective of the boundary of nations, which in turn increases the relevance of self-reliant health care system.

Given the need for the pandemic time’s caution, here lay the refreshing facts to maintain or turn one healthy.  The most efficient tracking system to resist any harmful alien component lays within the human body itself i.e. immune system or immunity. What if someone is empowered to check body immunity except visiting doctors, just with a few basic indications? The solutions that predict humans weakened immunity may caution humans to take better immunity management measures.

In humans, the bodily immune system protects the human body from viral, bacterial, fungal, or protozoan attacks. It defends the lethal pathogens to enter the human body. Sometimes, when a virus succeeds in entering the body, the strong immune system recognizes and manages the capacity to neutralize the same, making the human body even stronger and capable to resist anything odd from outside.

If a person often falls sick or feels down, the reason behind may be the weakened immune system of that person. So someone needs to know the signs that indicate a defective and weakened immune system which calls urgent lifestyle changes.

Persistent Digestive Disorders

Around 70% of the bodily immune system resides in the inward of the body. The bodily inward bacteria fight the pathogen and enhance immune health. These inward bacteria stimulate the growth of T- cells or Army cells, which are in charge of identifying self and non- self-cells and tissues.

Lower counts of these symbiotic bacteria in the human body can increase the risk of viruses, chronic inflammation, and even autoimmune disorders. Due to which the human body might suffer from the frequent occurrence of diarrhea, gas, or constipation.

Solution:

The food and beverages humans eat and drink decide most about digestive health and the balance of good and bad bacteria in the inward of the human body. Lessen quotient of intake of processed, saturated fats and artificial sugar can reduce stomach ailments. Including fiber-rich, proteinaceous, fresh-green, and nutrient-rich diet in daily intake supports the growth of good bacteria. Having an ample amount of probiotics and fermented food contain live and active beneficial bacteria.

Delayed Healing of Wounds

It is the immune resistance that enables the wound inflamed to prevent infections, growing new cells to form over the wound, and formation of scar tissue to heal the wound. However, if someone’s immune health is not strong enough; it will restrict the regeneration of new cells making it difficult for someone’s wounds to heal.

Solution: The immune system in the blood is meant to protect the wounds, control damage, and allow regeneration of the new cells. A balanced level of Vitamin D, C, and zinc trend towards better wound healing. The human body needs collagen from Vit. C and other wound healing supplements from Vit. D and zinc. In addition, the wound must be dressed and wounds heal faster if kept warm. Exposing a wound might slow down the healing process by allowing microbial generation on it.

Frequent Cold, cough, and fever

As per a few recognized research reports, adults on an average face about two to three occurrences of cold and allied symptoms each year. But if someone suffers from more frequent turns of cold and allied symptoms, then it indicates a weakened immune system. This might be because of the person’s compromised lifestyle and adherence to hygiene. When someone doesn’t follow hygiene practices, he/she is responsible for creating an environment that allows recurrent infections like cold to stage up.

Solution:

Include healthy hygiene practices in your daily routine that will restrict the viral particles from entering the body or building up or spreading easily.

Smoker’s Chain

If someone is a smoker or chain smoker (smokes relatively constantly), he needs to understand that smoking directly affects the cells of the immune system and causes damage to the tiny hairs of the respiratory tract that normally help to clear out germs carrying mucus and debris.

Solution:

Smokers of any sort must quit smoking because the chemical found in cigarettes weakens the immune system.

Insomnia

If someone finds it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or be compelled to wake up too early and not able to get back to sleep is certainly in the grasp of insomnia. Insomnia chronically makes humans lethargic and susceptive to several diseases. Prolonged insomnia or inability to fall asleep may completely disbalance the human immune system and in turn, increases the risk of being sick. There are proven records that “healthy sleep” stands as the best way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and there is a prominent connection between sleep and proper functioning of the immune system.

Solution:

The conditions necessary for good sleep, called “sleep hygiene,” are needed to get properly maintained. There are some basic rules to get proper sleep like setting up a healthy bedtime routine i.e. go to bed and wake up every day at the same time, sleep in well-ventilated rooms and arrange circulation of natural air in the room, maintain the temperature, air humidity and pollution of the sleeping room, make sleeping space sound, noise and electromagnetic fields free.

Fatigue and Exhaustion

Even after having enough sleep, someone may experience unexplained fatigue and relapsing exhaustion. Sometimes those may certainly point towards something intense. Since the immune system is directly proportionate to the energy level, it implies that the body is trying to conserve energy to enhance the immune system and fuel immune energy during the battle with the traumatic situation.

Solution:

Yoga and exercise give a soothing effect to the heart and improves blood circulation across the body increasing the energy flow in the body. Those not only strengthen our nervous system but also stimulate the thyroid gland allowing fatigue and exhaustion to go away.

Anxiety and Stress

When someone is stressed, his/her body releases corticosteroids that suppress the effectiveness of the immune system by lowering the number of lymphocytes in his/her body. Stressed and anxious behavior can lead to unhealthy coping tactics such as smoking and alcohol consumption. stressful times.

Eat a balanced diet and follow a healthy lifestyle including yoga and exercise in your routine. “Laughter is the best medicine.” Laughter relaxes the endothelium of blood vessels to expand, increasing the blood flow. Laughter generates vigorous breathing, which in turn sends more oxygenated blood through the body ultimately reducing stress hormones in the brain.

Solution:

A severely stressed person is recommended to see a psychiatrist. Emotional and social support from family and friends can help a person recover from

Amnesia

Research has begun at the University of California Irvine, on how the lockdown has affected people’s memories. There is the report that even some amazing people who usually remember events like buying a cinema ticket 20 years earlier because they have highly superior autobiographical memory are finding they are forgetting things.  The factor which mostly contributes to amnesia or memory loss is isolation. Lack of social contact affects the brain adversely and the effect of isolation is most serious among those who already experiencing memory difficulties and for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, levels of seclusion even determine the course of the disease. Though everyone has not felt lonely during the pandemic then there are other factors like insomnia, exhaustion, anxiety which contributing to amnesia. Office of National Statistics in the UK has found that rates of depression have doubled during the lockdown. Both depression and anxiety are known to have an impact on memory and may have a considerable role behind amnesia. 

Solution

Living a healthy, socially connected lifestyle and keeping the mind active through artistic and creative acts may be a way forward to get rid of amnesia

In regular practice walking, even within the confinement of home, will bring the human’s brain back to attention while moving makes a positive difference in memory. Do you have to sit at your desk for every meeting? Or do you work from home? If it’s a phone call within, then walk in the room or balcony sitting on a chair instead. Make sure that weekdays and the weekends are different enough and do not merge them into one sort of activity. Writing and noting down more frequently and practicing Yoga can help lock downbound people to cope up with amnesia. 

Disturbed menstrual cycle for women

A quarter of women are reported suffering from irregular periods. Reasons behind may be cumulative effects of lockdown including stress, anxiety, amnesia, overeating, etc. Most of the women find it difficult to work from home managing children without any domestic help. Financial crises even concern women the most causing adverse effect on their menstrual cycle. The complete isolation and static living create this irregularity.

Solution

Exercise, healthy diet, following hygiene, Self-care, cooperation, and backing of family members may relax women allowing them to enjoy a natural menstrual cycle.

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New Social Compact

You could have been black too: Describing racism in Venezuela

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“Black woman! . . . if you were white and had straight hair / My mother told me in distress not to marry a black woman, because when she’s asleep, she looks like a coiled snake / A black woman with a big nose doesn’t cook for me, because she hides the mouthfuls in her nostrils”

The world is in the severe grip of Corona virus, countries are experiencing recession & economic downfall, millions of people are starving vanishing, and environment is abating.  All this together, alarms world for the worsening future that might welcome us tomorrow. But still the capitalist class of developed nations is indulged in the debate of US/them. On the basis of primordial traits individuals are classified as either in-group or out-group. Consequently hatred, animosity and xenophobia is increasing generation by generation towards the minorities around the world. 

Similar is the situation of afro-Venezuelan community around the world and predominantly in Venezuela. The afro-descendant group is target of hate speech, discrimination and racism. They are been called by various names such as vermin, mulatoo, barefoot, rabble, uncultured and inferior; mainly due to their afro-descendant identity. However the Venezuelan government denies the presence of racism, by asserting itself a racial democracy. A land which mixed heritage, embraces its café con leech or coffee with milk characteristic with pride.

 History of afro-descendants in Venezuela dates back to 16th century, this era was significantly underlined for colonization by Spanish settlers. As the land was rich in natural resources supplementary workforces were brought from the third world countries. General belief system of elite of was “blacks have no soul and have very little intellectual capacity, so better if they perform task such as slavery”. This is how African people first came to Venezuela, in order to work in the coca plantation. But no one was aware of the fact, this increased immigration; at one point of time might leads to numerically upsurge of afro-descendants at home. In 1979, customary practice of African slave trade was abolished, but till this time African community made almost 60% of Venezuela’s population.

Afterwards to avoid the racial discrimination and hatred towards minorities. The Venezuelan nation adopted its mestizaje ideology and inculcated racial democracy. Which states that everyone is a mixed heritage, miscegenation. These elementary ideologies of Venezuela contradicts the presence of racism or racial divide in country. But realistically speaking racism is there, and unfortunately it is been masked due the mestizaje ideology. Closing the wounds of racism by making everyone a mixed.

The Racist treatment of afro-Venezuelan community is quite evident from their economic exclusion, social and political deprivation, hate speech directed towards them in popular music and lastly from their treatment in media.  In short the state has been narrow-minded in providing social, economic, political and cultural values to its non-white majority.

Systematic exclusion of afro-Venezuelans from the economic system and job opportunities intensify the grievances of Afro-Venezuelans. Lack job opportunities for blacks, and fortunately if there are some jobs; even in those places they are driven out of their offices or are target of continued racism. Quoting the example of former president of Hugo Chavez Perez who was been called as Negro and monkey due to his afro-descendant identity. Another case of discrimination was heralded was an ice cream parlor franchise, situated in Caracas published a digital advertisement asking for hiring of employees. But the job criteria confused people, as it represented a clear discriminatory stance towards non-whites, requesting employees with ‘white skin’ and a height of 1,70m.  Representation of blacks in media is also pitiful. There are only a few black faces in media, anchor person, television celebrities even the Miss Venezuela are invariably white or off white. It also causes whitening of popular culture; and a stigmatization in society those who are whiter are better off & socially acceptable.

Social grievances of afro-Venezuelans are evident from the customary practices of Non-documentation, denial of birth certificates, denial of nationality, and lack of information on social security issues; such as access to pensions by older people for almost past 40 years. Apart from that only references to black people in school texts is of historical aside during slavery. Further stereotyping afro-Venezuelans and perpetuating racism. This is not only wicked but alarming, how a state can constantly discriminate its citizens. How a group of people can be denied of their fundamental human rights by the states and authorities.

Political grievances of Afro-Venezuelans are in the form of exclusionary nationalist ideology, African descendants are deprived of self-right, freedom of expression, self-determination, political and human rights. Taking into account the recruitment procedure of blacks in army, was also biased and in the interest of elite. As it that would provide elite the man power for army.

The core of the problem lies in the problematic group histories of Afro-Venezuelans as they being a product of slave trade. Historically deprived of rights and treated unfairly further generates the concept of degraded community. Labelling them as the one who lack soul, not born to live rather to practice slavery as lack in intellectual wellbeing further generates dishonored sentiments and exacerbates racism. The problem cannot be solved, as long as it is considered a problem of black community only. Discrimination against any community reflects humanity at its worse, and the norm keeps on expanding in other parts of the world as well. Therefore it is necessary to consider racism a problem of humanity. Strict measures must be taken to root out racism, to help humanity. If today you are silent on the matter, it means you are showing consent towards racism. So speak up against racism, if you think it’s not right. Otherwise it will become a norm.

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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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