Skip to main content

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.
---
*Coventry University, UK

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Lost to commercialisation, vanity? Ashram awaits 'second assassination' of Gandhiji

Counterview Desk  Around 130 “concerned” citizens, in a statement, have protested against the Government of India and Gujarat government decision to turn Gandhi Ashram into a ‘world-class’ tourist destination spread over 54 acres at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, which would include a Gandhi Ashram Memorial, an amphitheater, a VIP lounge, shops and a food court, stating it would compromise and trivialize the “sanctity and importance of the present-day Ashram, mainly Hriday Kunj, surrounding buildings, and the museum.”

Tussle between Modi-led BJP govt, Young India 'key to political battle': NAPM

Counterview Desk  In its month-long campaign, civil rights network National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) carried out what it called Young People's Political Persecution and Resistance in “solidarity with all comrades facing political persecution and remembering human rights defender Stan Swamy…”

Govt of India has 'no moral right' to declare national day for Muslim women, Naqvi told

Counterview Desk  In what has been described as a nationwide outpouring of condemnation, following the announcement by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of Minority Affairs, declaring August 1 as ‘Muslim Women’s Rights Day’ to mark the anniversary of the Triple Talaq law, over 650 citizens have said it is nothing but "cynical optics" of using Muslim women’s rights in the face of an "unprecedented" onslaught against the rights of the Muslims in recent years.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.

Madhya Pradesh Adivasis protest externment notice to Barwani tribal rights leader

By Harsing Jamre, Nasri Bai Ningwal, Prakash Bandod*  Over 2,500 Adivasis mobilized in response to Barwani district administration’s recent move to issue a show cause notice to Valsingh Saste, a prominent Adivasi activist of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), Madhya Pradesh. For two decades, Valsingh Saste as an activist of JADS has been continuously leading struggles for the constitutional and fundamental rights of Adivasis.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Bonded labour a thing of past? Gujarat rural workers are now more aware: Ex-official

By Rajiv Shah  This is sort of rejoinder to my previous story . I was a little surprised on receiving a phone call from a former government official, who retired in 2015, Bipin Bhatt, whom I have known as one of the more socially conscious senior babus of Gujarat. A non-IAS bureaucrat, I first interacted him during my Gandhinagar days, when I used to cover Gujarat Sachivalaya for the Times of India. At that time he was Gujarat’s rural labour commissioner, a post which he occupied between 2004 and 2007. Thereafter I have been in touch with him.