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Return of arms control? China, India among 'top spenders' amidst Covid-19 crisis

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Horrors of deaths, destitution and common vulnerabilities due to the pestilence of Covid-19 has brought back the ideals of universal unity, peace and solidarity into the center stage of a fragile world. These ideals are historically proved shelter during every crisis created by colonial, imperialist and reactionary nationalist adventures during 19th century, and productivist plunders of capitalism during 20th and 21st century.
The coronavirus pandemic has intensified the planetary dimensions of capitalist crisis never experienced before in the world history. The crisis that the world is facing today is not a product of Covid-19. It has only helped to deepen the existing structural crisis within capitalist system, which engineered to benefit the few at the cost of humanity.
It is not an unavoidable destiny designed by the god. It is designed by few people and their concerted effort to control the productive and creative power of labour and natural resources across the world. There is massive growth of military infrastructure to pursue the objective of controlling human being by brute force.
The Bastille fortress prison was reduced to a rubble in Paris during the forward march of French revolution with the ideals of equality and liberty that established unity among people. The solidarity of European workers with the people fighting against European colonialism had led to the deepening of democracy, freedom and equality.
It has also confirmed that the ideals of transnational unity based on international solidarity is possible among the majority of people. The ruthless dictators, fascists and authoritarian leaders did not find a safe place to survive. The radical democratic movements have ended the enormous power of the kings and queens. All empires from Ottomans, Romans to British empire collapsed in history and all dictators were defeated by people in search of peace.
The 21st century world is experiencing new wave of authoritarian regimes seeking to enforce their reactionary visions on society, diminishing individual liberty and fraternity. It also promotes narrow religious, political and cultural cults that dismantles unity among people. 
The threat to humanity and universal peace continues to grow as the authoritarian regimes increase their military expenditure and reduced expenditure on health, education and other human welfare programmes. According to a report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the total global military expenditure was $1917 billion in 2019.
It shows 3.6% rise of military expenditure from 2018 which was largest growth in a decade. The report published on April 27, 2020 revealed further that the total global military spending constitutes of 2.2% of Global Gross Domestic Product (GGDP) in 2019. 
It is approximately $249 (Rs18,590.84) per person. Countries like USA, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia are five largest spenders and account for 62% of global expenditure. China and India are among top three military spenders in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis.
International disarmament treaties are falling apart. International mechanisms to control arms trade is collapsing. States and governments are increasing their defence budget. The world is facing global arms race in the middle of a disastrous pandemic. The growing military expenditure is an instrument of authoritarian regimes to impose order to be in power.
But bombs and bullets did not help the society to progress. It is peace that established societies, states, families and individual lives. It is within this context, the struggle for peace is a weapon to end wars and military expenditures by which the states and societies can invest in the dignity of lives and prosperity of human health and education.
The world is confronting many annihilating challenges accelerated by the Covid-19 crisis. It is clear that the business as usual approach within existing political, economic and social structures cannot face the challenges. 
Total global military expenditure was $1917 billion in 2019, a 3.6% rise of military expenditure from 2018, largest in a decade
The states and governments irrespective of their political ideology work under a capitalist framework, that uses authoritarian strategies of terror, fear and repression directed towards the working-class population in different parts of the world. The national and global institutional architectures have failed to provide any form of alternatives to capitalism, which reproduces inequalities and exploits both labour and nature.
The pandemic-led lockdown revealed the dialectical relationship between capitalism, patriarchy, reactionary religious fundamentalist forces and market domination on society. It is an alliance that plunders the world and puts humanity in danger. 
The regional, local and national march towards emancipation from such a regime is impossible. Therefore, it is time to think again in universal terms for all the people irrespective of their race, sexuality, gender, class, caste, religious and regional differences.
In order to overcome the challenges of differences, it is important to build unity between different sections of society based on common experiences, vulnerabilities and dreams. The potential for unity among masses dependent on collective consciousness and commitment to stand in solidarity with marginalised population and their struggles around the world.
However, the world has experienced and recovered from ruinous fragilities in history due to human commitment to the values of unity, solidarity and peace. It is time to sketch out the plans to reinforce these ideals to fortify the future and survive the present. The universal reconstitution of society, economy and politics is unavoidable necessity to face the contemporary challenges beyond pandemic.
It is important to understand and acknowledge unfairly structured social, political and economic systems, that grossly distort the word in which majority of people suffer for the pleasure of few. There are different economic, political and economic hierarchies based on different layers of privileges. The people who are the beneficiaries of such a system of privileges perpetuate inequality, discrimination and exploitation.
The untangling of entitlement culture based on gender, race, sexuality, caste and class is important. Because this uncanny culture of entitlement has the capacity to survive within all ideological formations of state and governance. It produces privileged ‘homo economicus’, who serves to uphold the capitalist system that endangers equality and liberty. There will be no unity, solidarity and peace without equality and liberty.
The world is prosperous enough to end poverty, hunger and homelessness but wealth is concentrated in the hands of few. The democratisation and community management of resources is the first step towards a sustainable future. The ecological justice and egalitarian distribution of wealth with universal values can ensure the progress for all, and establish unity, solidarity and peace.
There is no other way but perish together if the fragilities of world continue to grow. The peaceful coexistence is the only alternative. Therefore, the future of world depends on struggle for peace based on unity and solidarity.
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*Coventry University, UK

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