Politics and Diplomacy in COVID-19 Pandemic
Politics and diplomacy in the pandemic are under trial and tribulations during this exigent situation. The tribulations are gripping the entire world. Pandemic extirpation and climate change control must go simultaneously. Novel action-oriented thinking is a must to remedy the legacy of old pending problems on the table talk.
COVID-19 pandemic is considered to be a major global public health disaster. It has either damaged or reversed global economic growth. It has put further stress on achieving sustainable development goals in developing economies. A financial largesse in the form of free vaccine jabs is proffered to citizens by the governments. But not much relief is felt unless a short, medium and long-term recovery in the realistic package is undertaken. This global pandemic has so far been adjusted in an ad hoc manner. Technical support, help, and assistance to the need-based beneficiaries have questioned the roles of state and government in the developing world which lacks production of vaccines. A type of postmodern phenomenon is with us in these times, and waves of alleviating approaches that are different and diverse. Politics and diplomacy, being the usual business, have not much satiated in the domain of quotidian affairs of the state.
The rise of populist government and oppositional politics were at crossfire without much legitimacy to speak on the public health system, and public health issues that are generally underfunded, or apathy of the state support. So, no one is to blame for the question of politics in such magnitudes of systemic health crises. No one imagined at the onset that the pandemic would wreak havoc in the minds and thinking of people on such a global scale. Neither was the world prepared to grapple with the sudden lockdown of the whole world leading to a total standstill nor was the non-movement of social humans known in human history.
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The 21st century marked the centennial of the First Great War of 1914-1918, whereas the shutdown of world affairs is notably rare. This has led us to a brink of time filled with deepening crises and agonies of political instability, transition, and climate change repercussions of two decades. Globalizing and capitalizing society of the world has many interpretations and analyses of politics & diplomacy in this pandemic when pundits analyze the deeper impact to global citizens rather than just the nationals of a territorial state.
The world is becoming extremely interdependent in a deepening nexus of capitalism and a democratic way of living. Its momentum has witnessed a hiatus as of now and its consequences may be felt for many years to come. The impact of this pandemic cannot be measured today. But its aftershocks are going to affect if the governments and states of the world delay to execute pragmatic policy to a speedy recovery. Diplomatic events to connect the heads of state also went virtual, except in circumstances of international conclave when its aftermath seems to subside, as in G7 meetings of 2021. But the delivery of its pledged assistance to the Global South is still unknown as some African leaders are talking of a ‘Vaccine Apartheid’. If diplomacy is conducted to assist the vulnerable states then can those countries withstand normal or stable business of public affairs? Piling debts of those countries and associated burdens, timelines to pay back such international loans and closing down of the business of the aid industry are all in ambivalence. These are pertinent issues where solutions have been being brainstormed for years but without any permanent resolution.
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A power shift in the international order is talked about much. However, a genuine rise of the Non-West theoretically exists, in principle, in comparison to the West that is well versed in it. In praxis, a long walk to liberty, justice, and truth is ongoing with occasional hiccups or setbacks. Once such countries are self-reliant on domestic settlement of public interest issues, only then can such states rise to the occasion to hold their sovereignty and autonomy in international relations with pride but not prejudice, with principled praxis but not anarchic or agitational mindsets and with purposeful sustainability in wealth creation but not in discretionary or palliative measures to assuage feeble financialization process or stimulus baggage.
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The Global South & the Global North, the East & the West, and the West & the Non-West relations will undergird further in the convergence of good governance, the rule of law, and the democratic way of life. An open, transparent and peaceful society can endure prosperity, progress and principles because a liberal democracy stabilizes extremes and softens polemics in a polarized within polarized society. Otherwise, the price of peace, democracy and human civilization is going to cost us dearly and we will miss the chances to demonstrate a quality of life and living that includes those at the bottom rung of human society.
Contemporary global public policy is spearheaded by G7 countries. The influence of the G7 on many countries is manifold in their internal sovereignty. There is no escape from the policy fine-tuning and responsiveness to meet the new challenge and secure welfare, insurance and safety nets. In these civic interests, government and governance cannot evade responsibility to serve best if not better. Criticisms are fielded too often but insiders in the corridors of power are aware of such allegations. Civil society is at the forefront of this fortress to defend democracy and keeps a vigil to check authoritarian advent or appetite in politics.
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Politics and diplomacy in the pandemic are under trial and tribulations during this exigent situation. The tribulations are gripping not just a single country but the entire world. We can salvage ourselves from this crisis if the vaccination drive is total and complete, backed by sanitary measures. In brief, pandemic extirpation and climate change control must go simultaneously. Novel action-oriented thinking is a must to remedy the legacy of old pending problems on the table talk.
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About the author
Rajeev Kunwar is a political scientist based in Kathmandu. He is currently a doctoral student of political science at Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Nepal.
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