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Humanity’s common enemies

When millions in the poorer countries are virtually starving and scenes of begging have resurfaced, all the shifting of blame, geographical and economic competition as well as racially-tinged treatment and behaviour, even by the state people and agencies, present a very bleak world picture indeed
Kazi Mostaque Ahmed
Humanity’s common enemies

The Covid-19 pandemic has once again reminded mankind that its common enemies are poverty, hunger, disease, death – and helpless ignorance. Yet the powerful nations’ inaction may lay waste an opportunity to come together for addressing these problems that this pandemic has so dearly provided.
Nations have not seriously met in any forum at the global or regional level as yet on these problems, especially on poverty, hunger, global food security in the wake of this pandemic.

Instead, they are getting more embroiled with their same old competition for economic and strategic dominance, geographical importance and racial superiority.
It began with blame game. When the novel coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan and the authoritarian one-party Chinese government was grappling with many deaths, one Chinese official quickly said the virus was introduced to their country when 300 US military members had arrived in the Wuhan region for the Military World Games in mid-October (2019) and infected the local population.

After a couple of months later, China was on the defensive, as the virus started ravaging the US with record numbers of daily deaths and President Donald Trump asserted that the virus had been created in a lab of Wuhan and it might have accidentally spread from there to human beings.

The president and his secretary of state Mike Pompeo continued to maintain the position, despite the president’s chief coronavirus official and US intelligence agencies held the view that the novel coronavirus is not a man-made one. 
A failed US president kept on insisting that the Chinese government must be made accountable over its failure to keep safe the lab and warn the world about the extent of danger the virus could inflict by keeping hidden the actual number of deaths in Wuhan. Later Germany, France, Australia and other countries also implicated China over the virus outbreak.

The US president saw the doomed prospect of his reelection to office for his messed-up virus handling and said that China, in collusion with Russia, deliberately had spread the virus to influence the November US election. 
Added to this failure is killing in custody of George Floyd, a black man, by some racist white police personnel. Trump not only failed to give hope to the protesters about justice for Floyd at this time, he in fact further divided the American society by making controversial decision and remark one after another.

Here we have a president in US who is more preoccupied with his own personal goal than the lives of people he governs, let alone those in the poorer and enemy countries.
He is desperately trying to camouflage his own ostentatious failures by shifting blame. Raising outcry within the US and outside, he took an ill-motivated decision to stop funding the WHO which he alleged has become China-biased or CHO.

In 2017, Trump stopped funding UNESCO citing “mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO”. The US decision led to its 22 per cent budget cuts the following year. 
The US’s global leadership in Trump’s era is gone.

Truly, the US president seems to care less about human lives. When Iran was battling hard against Covid-19 along with Italy in Europe, his further tightening the sanction noose against Iran was not only immoral, but crude also. The US always tried to corner the clerical Iran regionally and on the world stage with pretension that it wants to protect the interests of the Iranian people. But this is a lie.

In India, communalism has been fanned by the state and extreme-right media houses in the pandemic time, and the country’s minority Muslim population has been further subjected to marginalization. 
By blaming the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi in March as ‘super spreader’ of the coronavirus, segregating Muslim patients in some hospitals, denying relief materials to Muslims or even implicating that Muslims are deliberately scattering saliva on vegetables by vendors to spread the virus, the hardliner BJP ultimately could not stop the contagion. But it certainly could hide its governance failures in the racially-charged Indian society.

Even at this time, India is facing external problems with China as the two nations have now locked themselves in a dispute over territories along the border in Ladakh that can potentially grow into a full-blown military conflict. 
When thousands in the poorer countries are virtually starving and scenes of begging have resurfaced in societies that have graduated from it, all the shifting of blame, geographical and economic competition as well as racially-tinged treatment and behaviour, even by the state people and agencies, present a very bleak world picture indeed.

People are dying of Covid-19 and may perish in pandemic-induced famine in case of failure by the rich and powerful countries of the world to urgently create a global fund and food distribution channel for the poor and vulnerable countries in Africa and Asia. On this, UN chief António Guterres has also sounded alarm recently.
The pandemic that has brought a world war situation in countries has exposed man’s helplessness in taming the destructive force of nature. Poor countries apart, the novel coronavirus has crushed the pride of some of the world’s richest and most powerful nations.

Medical science has done a lot to contain diseases in the past; it will also, hopefully, stop Covid-19 in future months or years by creating a vaccine or inventing therapeutics for the disease. But meanwhile the disease will continue to ravage the world.  
There is an opinion that the post-pandemic world will not be the same: people will have to change their social behaviour pattern and home office will considerably replace the old practice of working outside in a world of new normal.

Maybe. But the pandemic will turn millions of people in countries jobless, make even greater number of people to face hunger, disease and death. Maintaining health and life will be impossible for them. When the world leaders need to come to a platform for fighting these problems collectively, their indifference on the contrary is numbing.

Globalisation has brought people of the world closer for economic reasons, but causes of humanity remain remote. Covid-19, initially an epidemic confined to Wuhan, China, spread faster around the world to become a pandemic because of globalization. 
It is sad that even this lethal pandemic has failed to bring together the powerful nations to fight the common problems as they have put their own petty political and material interest over the humanity’s.

The writer is Assistant Editor of The Independent and can be contacted at: kazi.mostaque@theindependentbd.com

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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