Zeeshan Rasool Khan

Lessons from COVID pandemic

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COVID-19 pandemic has engulfed many countries. The ravaging microscopic body – the coronavirus behind this disease — has posed an extreme threat to the world that now seems helpless at its wit’s end. This virus knows no discrimination. It affects whosoever comes in its way. Neither it is communal nor casteist. It transcends barriers of all sorts. It entered the palaces and at the same time hovels and presently around 1 million (as on 04 April 2020) positive cases are confirmed worldwide. This number continues to swell alarmingly with each passing day.

While coronavirus is rapidly moving to victimize the population, it has undertones attached to it which demand serious attention. It has nullified humans’ assertion of being ‘superior’, deflated their inflated chests and egos. Even the word’s powerful countries have been brought to knees, driving hoe the reality that nature is much powerful than anyone else.

Not only this, but it also carries a message for the world rulers and invites them to check their report cards to know how they have ruled. What is their contribution to subjects? What have they done for their people, especially regarding their well-being, which involves health, happiness, and prosperity?

The lust of power and might have blinded us to the extent that we see progress in raising powerful armies with most sophisticated weaponry. Not only the rulers, but even the ordinary people also equated progress and development with having strong defense systems. This concept has flourished in every country and resultantly entire world has remained engaged in an arms race. With this escalation of the arms race, the real human development has been pushed aside.

Studies show world military budget grew to $1.8 trillion in 2018. US military spending spiked by 4.6 percent to reach $649 billion, followed by China that increased its military expenditure by 5.0 percent to $250 billion. Indian defense budget also witnesses a year-on-year increase. Though this year’s (2020) military budget was termed as disappointing, yet it was about 4.71 trillion rupees. Pakistan decided to announce the austerity-driven defense budget but at the end of the day, there was no change as compared to the previous year. The amount allocated was around 1.15 trillion rupees. This data explicitly indicates how the countries decided their priorities.

One can easily glean from the current situation how the rulers have worked for people’s quality of life and social progress to date. In the sub-continent, especially Pakistan and India, reports about enfeebled and ill-equipped health systems are grabbing the headlines. One of the reports reads that UT of Jammu and Kashmir possesses some 180 ventilators for the 1.25 crore population. And it is no secret that in the same region over 7 lakh armed forces’ personnel  are stationed, which consumes a big chunk of the budget that could have been used for up-gradation of say health infrastructure.

This empirically suggests how militarily build-up affects the well-being of the population and this holds true for all other countries. Today the common people are forced to thinks how better it would have been if the arms race had been replaced by the race for raising various developmental indices. If we had focused on human welfare rather than on weaponry, the world would not have been going through tragedies that are staring it in the face.

We cannot ignore that the current crisis (coranaviris pandemic) is a bolt from the blue, which has beaten even the best healthcare systems. But, there are many countries where people are dying not by Covid19 but by the poor-health system, unemployment, and poverty.

Hope this crisis would end soon and rulers would scratch their heads to mull over the thorny questions that the epidemic has raised?

(Zeeshan Rasool Khan, writes on current issues and can be mailed at [email protected])

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