COVID-19: A Third World War

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Imperialism is a process showcasing the subjugation of a weaker country by a powerful country. It gave rise to a sphere of influence in colonies in general and Asia and Africa in particular. Imperialist rivalries were at the root of all conflicts and tensions between European nations in the precise form, and the world in a broad-spectrum. With every passing day, these rivalries grew so strong that it went to create war-like conditions, and finally led to the World War 1. As a result, the world witnessed both human and material loss and about nine million people died in the war, several million became invalid. There was a world-wide economic crisis in 1929 which continued up to 1933. It widely affected all the capitalistic economies of the world. The whole world was hit by great economic depression. The events between 1936 and 1939 such as Hitler and Mussolini’s conquests created conditions for World War 2 in which same devastations and destructions were witnessed. This went onto  creating cold war (neither war nor peace) conditions between the two blocks of the world viz. American block and soviet block. However, the COVID-19 event has in a real sense affected the entire world and is undoubtedly a third world war (WW III). It didn’t even spare Latin America which escaped the wrath of World War 1 and World War 2.

History is witness to the fact that expansionism, imperialism, colonialism, and militarism were the attributes of the foreign policy of axis powers (Italy, Germany, and Japan). The political movements in Europe led to Fascism and Nazism in Italy and Germany under Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler respectively. All this devastated the world. But the situation now, with ongoing coronavirus war, can turn more devastating; it has already claimed more than 5 lakh lives and infected more than 10 million people.

One of the main and immediate consequences of World War 2 was the establishment of United Nations Organization. A conference held at San Francisco (USA) in April 1945, attended by 50 nations, adopted the United Nations Charter under which UNO was established for maintaining peace and cooperation in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) is a dedicated and expert agency of UNO responsible for international public health. But, all the global institutions created in the wake of World War 2 failed to heel the world and make it a better place to live in. Keeping in view the pandemic, WHO director-general firmly declared on 30th January 2020 that there was a medical emergency but that he was not in favor of trade or travel bans on flights from Wuhan and other areas in China to the rest of the world. He further stated in his opening remarks in briefing on COVID-19 that the world has seen concerning signs of stigma, misinformation, and politicization of the pandemic.

Even though a vaccine can end this war by controlling COVID-19, there is a need for a comprehensive and objective international medical inquiry (research) into the nature and cause of COVID-19. This demands that countries focus on tripartite priorities of good governance, good empowerment (community empowerment in particular), and good research. There are complementarity and interdependence amongst them. A good governance empowers people and communities. As a result, our health is in safe hands. By empowering communities we can build better research, qualitative and primary in a specific form. Empowerment also includes maintenance of hygiene (especially respiratory hygiene). Therefore, the end of the corona world war requires a proper interaction amongst the trio, because the bad interface will make wild the tide of this deadly virus.

All countries need to seriously reconsider their priorities, and renovate their vows to universal health coverage. The path towards sustainable health development, meeting the health needs of the present generation without compromising the health needs of the future generations, must be hewed.

ICSSR Doctoral Fellow pursuing Ph.D. in Economics at Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir; Quarterly Franklin Member, London Journals Press.