I read a post somewhere that if India & Pakistan were to stop spending on militarization and nuclear equipment, they might be able to spend more on education & medical equipment – the covid pandemic might be easier to brave?
While nodding my head to some extent, I did feel the issue was not that simple. Really? Stop locking my house and invest in feeding the beggars off my street? Finding them a job might be a beginning but it will be many years before I can feel safe enough to not lock my door.
The global pandemic has shown us the many faces of the many people (and nations) that co habit this world. They say, you really get to know who your friend is in hard times, I say, you get to know your enemies too! Here’s what we already knew but know better now.
1. The World Is One But Not Always
When catastrophe strikes, move to look after your own, pre book food (vaccines) in advance and then … when you have reached herd immunity, reach out with an initiative for equitable distribution of vaccines to the poorer world – translate Covax. This is what many rich countries are doing now, the problem is, most nations have already pre booked future vaccine rollouts so where does that leave the shortage of supply? How can you promise equitable distribution from the same nations who have already secured their stock???
2. India & Pakistan – Divided Till We Face A Pandemic?
Why do we show our bhai chara, generosity, love, affection to our neighbours only in times of extreme crises. And where does it all go once the crisis is averted? Kinda befuddles me. You wish someone well, and then you send fighter jets to bomb them once they’re okay. I wish people would decide – are you my friend or not? Can’t trust this half-hearted attempt at mending fences, because the gaping holes will never be fixed, in fact those are the same holes that will send out a few bullets.
No, I’m not being cynical, just real.
In a situation where your enemy is endangered, do the right thing and be quiet. I can understand Indian Pakistani friends to inquire of each other, but not twitter, that has possibly been the most acerbic in its neighbourly relations.
3. Covax & VaxLive – An Initiative At Diplomacy or Real Change?
Which brings me to my next point. Whenever the world wants to get rid of their guilt, they get together to ‘Unite’ excuse the sarcasm. It could be in the form of ‘We Are The World’ to raise money for famine-ridden Africa or the new VaxLive initiative attempting a more equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.
The list of who’s who dropping in on the event is growing as Meghan & Harry’s initiative takes over with Selena Gomez driving the concert along with Jennifer Lopez and 5 star appearances pledged from US President Joe Biden, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and French President Macron.
But will this just be a global circus to create diplomacy and show we care or translate into REAL vaccines? Because you know what, it’s a shortage of vaccines that’s the problem, not a shortage of funds at present. Who decides who will get it first? The poor 55 year old farmer in a village in India or the 16 year old playing football in Europe?
Oh and the question still remains – which vaccine are they handing out as charity? The one that was halted several times and not good enough for the rich(er) nations or the top notch one that is in short supply and proven to counteract most variants? Just like feeding the leftovers to the beggar off the street? Apologize for the parallel but nothing more subtle comes to mind.
And then again, this is not the time to be subtle, diplomatic or mince words. Call a spade a spade when a pandemic hit world raises its ugly head to reveal all of the bigotry that lies beneath.
Till Poor Nations Do Not Have The Power To Make Decisions That Affect Them, The Fight Is Not Over
You really want to make a difference? Then let WHO decide where the vaccines need to be distributed first and who needs it the most? Let an independent body who is specialized in healthcare and who has zero political affiliation take the hard decisions.
And now to the question of India and Pakistan and their respective spending on ahem … healthcare? We’ll leave that to the tiny place called Kashmir, or maybe Kargil, or Pulwama … or the thousands of Aman initiatives that see the light of day only to be shut down once a lone soldier crosses the border mistakenly(?) and lands in neighbourly (enemy) territory. How do we treat him?
With a cup of chai or a body bag?
Let’s bilaterally pledge to serve more chai – perhaps the Kashmiri version – one day, our youth might also be holding stethoscopes instead of guns … one day. Till then, we fight the pandemic with body bags and hope and pray that the Covax initiative will lead to a more just and equitable drive.
Some Finally, Some Twitter Love To Keep The Hopes Alive For Those Of You Hopeless Optimists Who Hope For The Best
The ACT Accelerator is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
For any enquiries about the COVAX Facility, please contact [email protected].