In the midst of a national lockdown and steady rise in a number of cases diagnosed with Coronavirus infection, Central and State governments have issued a number of guidelines and advisories to better manage the ongoing COVID-19 induced disaster. A key challenge confronting society is how to deal with the increasing social stigma being attached to the disease. A number of cases are emerging from across the country, reporting social ostracization. Such instances are expected to rise further as the infection spreads from various cities to the rural country-side.
The world is at present witnessing one of the most difficult periods in its modern history. It is facing COVID-19 pandemic that has no medical solution in sight yet. Thousands of people are dying and many more are expected to succumb to the coronavirus in days and months to come. Obviously, all efforts are ongoing to save the world from any eventual catastrophe. Apart from undertaking passive measures like social distancing, which helps to break the chain of human transmission of the virus, scientists are trying their best to find an appropriate medicine/vaccine to fight COVID-19.
As long as a human community, as a whole, does not get out of the ‘syndrome’ of reacting and preparing for yesterday’s threats, the world would never remain prepared to address the threats like the pandemics. The field of warfare tells us that humans draw lessons from past wars in order to prepare for future wars without realizing that the face of future wars may not be the same that they have experienced in the past. In very broad terms, there are two main categories of threats, called natural and human-induced.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not the first disease suspected to be a bioweapon in recent times. Post 9/11 Anthrax attacks in the United States, which ended up killing five people and was an act of intentional use of anthrax spores, any subsequent disease spread gets normally suspected as a human creation. Particularly, since the Coronavirus had its origins in a country like China, the ‘conspiracy theory’ that this virus is a bioweapon has many takers. The State of China has an ‘image’ issue, for long.
Seventeen security personnel including 12 from District Reserve Guard (DRG) and five from Special Task Force (STF) were killed by the CPI (Maoist) in Chintagufa in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on March 21, 2020 (Hindustan Times, March 22).
The Internet has become a lifeline for the world for the past few decades. At present, owing to the Covid-19 threat, the world is observing ‘social distancing’. However, at the same time, there has been a major increase in ‘digital closeness’. For all these years, the idea of ‘work from home’ had very limited relevance, but now all of a sudden, this is becoming a global reality. Unfortunately, this is also leading to the overcrowding of digital networks due to rapid traffic growth.
Nepal government’s decision to impose a ban on the Communist Party of Nepal led by Netra Bikram Chand alias Biplab, known as CPN (Chand), a renegade Maoist faction, completed one year on March 12, 2020. The decision was taken following a series of bomb attacks on Ncell (Telecommunication service provider) towers and other public places across the country on February 22, 2019. The outfit had also made similar attacks on the Ncell infrastructure on June 11, 2016. In fact, before imposing the ban, the government had formed a negotiation team to hold dialogue with the CPN (Chand).
The growing incidents of radicalisation and religious extremism in a liberal Muslim country like the Maldives is alarming. It is a grave threat to the country as well as the South Asian region. Since the late 1970s, Maldives has seen growing trends of religious intolerance. Wahabi ideologies influenced many Maldivians in the subsequent years to fight for global Jihad. Today, the issue of radicalisation and violent extremism has emerged as a potential national security threat.
India-US relations share a long history and has seen upd and downs. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited the US during 1949. This trip preceded India’s formal declaration of neutrality in global affairs. It was a clear statement of intent from India that it is not keen to join either the Soviet or the US camp during the Cold War. Over the years, Indo-US relationship has evolved, though it has been a very bumpy ride.
On February 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of India made a landmark verdict on civil suit ‘The Secretary, Ministry of Defence versus Babita Punia and Others’ (civil appeals nos. 9367-9369 of 2011 read along with nos. 1127-1128 of 2013 and no. 1210 of 2020) by allowing permanent commission status to women officers in the Indian armed forces and making them eligible for command positions (which enables them now to perform all types of military roles – full combat, combat support and services). The government has been granted a three-month period to implement the ruling.