Skip to main content

As 2024 draws nearer, threatening signs appear of more destructive wars

By Bharat Dogra 

The four years from 2020 to 2023 have been very difficult and high risk years for humanity. In the first two years there was a pandemic and such severe disruption of social and economic life that countless people have not yet recovered from its many-sided adverse impacts.
In the next two years there were outbreaks of two very high-risk wars which have worldwide implications including escalation into much wider conflicts. In addition there were highly threatening signs of increasing possibility of other very destructive wars. As the year 2023 appears to be headed for ending on a very grim note, there are apprehensions about what the next year 2024 may bring, and there are several kinds of fears.
However to come back to the year 2020 first, the pandemic harmed and threatened a very large number of people. No less harmful was the fear epidemic, the epidemic of increasing mental stress and the cruel disruption of the life and livelihoods particularly among the weaker sections. There was much confusion in the pandemic response. There were many allegations that big pharmaceutical corporates—some of the top multinational companies—had misused the new situation for selfish interests instead of taking care to respond to the real needs of people. 
The end result which was visible in hard data was that in the middle of so many people suffering immensely, wealth and income got even more concentrated, many billionaires had increased their wealth at a very vast pace, the number of billionaires (including those in the health sector) had also increased very quickly, while at the same time millions and millions had fallen into poverty, debts and unemployment. 
This led some analysts to wonder what exactly was happening, and whether there was any wider pattern in the once-in-lifetime kind of situations being seen. Answers on which there could be wide consensus did not emerge from the many hotly contested debates, but certainly there was much that was deeply disturbing.
The world had not yet emerged free from the fear of the pandemic that a most serious war started in Ukraine. This has claimed several hundred thousand lives already ( as direct and indirect impact of war) and displaced about 10 million people to a lesser or greater extent, but all along its biggest threat has been that of the possibility of an escalation of this proxy war into a direct war between the two biggest nuclear weapon powers—Russia and the USA.
This war has continued for nearly 21 months already, and even before this could end a most terrible war has started in the Middle-East which has badly threatened almost the entire population of Gaza. Here too there is a serious risk of spread and escalation.
During the same time, there has been increasing discussion of the possibilities of the USA initiating a war or a proxy war against China, which may turn out to be one of the most destructive and dangerous wars ever. One can only hope that this never happens.
The world during the last few years has been going from one serious crisis situation to another. These are not incidental but reflect very serious structural problems of world polity and economy, including the desperate efforts of weakening forces of imperialism to retain or even increase their dominance of the world, accompanying efforts of very big multinational companies to try to maximize not just profits but also control of sectors of critical importance, ever increasing influence and manipulations of the military-industrial complex, sharp inequalities and injustices in the middle of increasing, life-threatening environmental ruin.
Now this being the disturbing scene in the last phase of this year, what can be in store for the next year 2024?
What we know about 2024 is that this year (which is expected to start with six important countries joining BRICS) has very important scheduled events, including the USA Presidential elections and the prolonged, high-profile campaign that precedes it. In addition presidential elections in China, Russia and Ukraine too are scheduled in the earlier part of the year. In mid-year we have European Parliament elections. In addition general elections in several important countries including Mexico, Venezuela, Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are scheduled.
While these elections and their results will no doubt be eagerly awaited, there are certain apprehensions also when some of these events are seen in the context of increasing tensions and conflicts in the world at several levels. For example, will the military industrial complex with its power to influence political system in favor of wars and arms race become even more active in the year of the US presidential election, or soon after this? Will elections for top posts in some of the leading powers of the world make their leaders act in more aggressive ways? 
Will leaders facing domestic problems or weaknesses try to find a way out by being excessively aggressive on the external front (just as Prime Minister Netanyahu appears to have done recently in Israel). Certainly there are no easy answers to these questions, and one hopes that some fears and apprehensions ultimately turn out to be unfounded. However keeping in view the very difficult times through which humanity has been passing and the serious tensions and distortions that exist at several levels, caution is advisable. What appears to be increasingly very clear is that the forces of peace, justice and environment protection need to become much stronger and need to be much more united keeping in view the increasing problems of our deeply troubled world.
He writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Earth without Borders and A Day in 2071



'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

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.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

August 9 to be observed as Corporates Quit India day: Top farmers' group

By Our Representative A recent general body meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the top farmers' organisation, stated hat "there is no need for any illusion of change in the pro-corporate policies of the BJP-NDA government" following the recent elections in which BJP failed to achieve even simple majority. It insisted,  Prime Minister Narendra Modi "is hell bent" to continue 'business as usual' policies.

Over 3.8 billion animals at risk: India on crossroad in animal welfare practices

By Rupali Soni*  In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra have unveiled their report , "Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India." This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India's socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.

Belgian report alleges MNC Etex responsible for asbestos pollution in Madhya Pradesh town Kymore: COP's Geneva meet

By Our Representative A comprehensive Belgian report has held MNC Etex , into construction business and one of the richest, responsible for asbestos pollution in Kymore, an industrial town in in Katni district of Madhya Pradesh. The report provides evidence from the ground on how Kymore’s dust even today is “annoying… it creeps into your clothes, you have to cough it”, saying “It can be deadly.”

Maharashtra govt's proposed bill may be used against 'dissenting' journalists, writers, filmmakers, artists

Counterview Desk  The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra, strongly objecting to what it calls “repressive and unconstitutional” Maharashtra Special Public Security Bill 2024, has demanded the proposed law be scrapped in its entirety. In its Statement of Objects and Reasons for the Bill, PUCL noted,  the broad and non-descript label of ‘urban naxal’ has been used, which is actually a “common slur used for any citizen who expresses their opposition to state policy or is not aligned with right-wing majoritarian views."