By Vivek Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, April 3, 2020: The fear of love and death are atavistic fears on which philosophers and writers have also confronted. Never in the recent history, mass fear psychosis was witnessed to the level which we see to-day due to Coronavirus – COVID-19 as named by the World Health Organisation.

In this coronavirus situation people are facing a sneaky and invisible enemy and all this increases their insecurities and anxieties. Plague in Europe in the middle ages, smallpox or cholera in India in the early part of the last century, Ebola in Africa, SAARS and Swine Flu in the last two decades had brought consternation but it was confined to specific regions.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created veritable global alarm as the world is much more integrated now than before. Movement of large number of passengers by large bodied aircraft, inter-connectivity of countries through air transport and expansion of flights by sheer number in last two decades both domestic and international in the world have contributed to the ferocity and magnitude of pandemic.

Added to this, internet has brought an explosion of information. The alarm has reached everyone who has a radio or TV or mobile phone. This spectacle of worldwide fear and the real danger to human lives is worse than the two world wars of the last century. Whether this will claim more lives than last two ferocious wars future will tell.

Human civilization at the peak of technological attainment is so engulfed by internecine warfare, deadly militancy, thoughtless terrorism, meaningless armed insurrection, profane proliferation of destructive arms, bitter religious struggle, pointless racial discrimination, and avaricious acquisition of material wealth oblivious of common problems with scant respect for issues like global warming, denudation of forest cover, depletion of ozone layer, abject poverty, despicable inequality, that it cannot confront challenge given by virus which cannot be detected even by light microscope.

It seems the world is helpless and even hopeless with the mighty, wealthy and technologically advanced Americans, the Europeans and the Chinese having crumbled down during truculence of this tiny object. Will this black swan give a wake up call to the humanity? Will it bring a catharsis? Will it bring new world order?

After all the devastations of two Great Wars did, they produced international organizations. First, the League of Nations which simply became impotent and then defunct in less than two decades, and second, the United Nations and its specialized agencies which to its credit produced international law and institutional mechanism to confront global problems. Notwithstanding this historic progress, for last several years this putative international institution was paralysed by big powers like US, Japan, Germany, France and Russia (and its predecessor Soviet Union) when they manipulated with these organizations by delaying their financial contributions.

Even China, as its economic strength increased, exhibited its political influence over world bodies to the detriment of international order. Veto power of big five brought deadlock in the Security Council. Many big countries stayed away from the International Criminal Court. WTO has become dysfunctional.

National sovereignties, the archaic Westphalian concept made arcane reappearance practically obfuscating the principles laid down in the preamble of the Charter of the United Nations. The chief executives, whether Secretary Generals or Director Generals, were harassed, ignored and even overridden with open, deliberate and unabashed interferences on matters of implementation of policies, programmes, plans and even on human resource management.

Now, a new trend of ultra-nationalism is sweeping the world. Regional groups and clubs of few ignore world bodies. Arrangements negotiated after months and years of effort like deal with Iran on nuclear proliferation, the Paris accord on global environment and the Trans-Pacific trade were all repudiated with disdain. Even the danger of Coronavirus was downplayed. At present, strangely how virus will be named or described (China virus or otherwise) there is controversy. Even at the height of global tension there is blame game as to who sent this virus to whom. From the international media it appears that both China and USA have locked their horns which is described by Graham Allison as Thucydides Trap.

Free flow of labour is under restraint through walls, physical or regulatory while capital can have easy access in the name of reforms. Immigration based on skill is an anathema. Religion or place of origin decides who will enter the country or get asylum or even become citizen. Fundamentalism, militancy, and terrorism are covert modes of diplomacy by nations and governments.

Political morality is at the lowest ebb in matters of funding of elections the basis of democracy, raising of political contributions (“black money” becoming white), changing of political ideology and parties for sinecures become the order of the day. Crony capitalism, lack of transparency in governance, rising intolerance and glaring inequality are pervading the world. Human rights, women’s rights, minority rights and child rights based on international law and national law are simply ignored. Drug trafficking, rapes with murder, child abuse, sexual harassment in workplace and indignity of women are rampant. Judicial independence, free media and neutrality of civil service are all under shadow. Civil society whether national or global is paralysed. Is it not veritable global kakistocracy?

Can there be a hope that this colossal danger which this swashbuckling minuscule alien has inflicted on the world will bring cataclysmic cleansing? The world with all the diversities is full of talent, knowledge, skill, and wealth. Can they not be harnessed for sustainable, peaceful, productive and healthy life free of mindless prejudice, needless arrogance, loathsome hubris, despicable hatred and irrational intolerance?

Will there be a new world order to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character and promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion to bring unity among peoples and guaranteeing their liberty, assuring equality and promoting fraternity with the object of protecting of human dignity?

Leave a Reply


newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Mr B S Pani
On the face of it, Covid-19 seems to have caught the world unaware and unprepared. Or could it be that the world and humanity became victim of misinformation and inward looking nationalistic leaders of the most powerful countries of the world? We still do not know how and when this epidemic would come under control like AIDS and Malaria etc or will ever go off our planet like Polio and SARS etc.? What would be the global economic order in the next decade?Who would be hurt the most and by how much-the richest or the poorest nations? Would UNO survive… Read more »