In a societystruck by a deadly virus, strict maintenance of public order ismostessential.
Law enforcement is nextonlytohealthcare in its criticality.
PHYSICAL DISTANCING in India is among the most difficult rules to enforce.
How will COVID-19 affect future law enforcement and how will new patterns of crime be managed, especially given that the virus is here to stay for a long time?
The police leadership will have to introspect on its recent experience and draft a comprehensive Standard Operating Procedure that will educate all policepersons in the country.
What helped the police greatly was public cooperation.
In this experience lies a lesson, a building block for future police-public relations.
It is a different matter that somedisorderlysections also behaved themselves, possibly out of sheer fear of the virus’s lethal potency.
Overall drop in crime.
Only the New York Police Department reported an uptick in murders and burglaries during the pandemic.
The National Police Chiefs Council in the U.K. reported a drop in burglary, vehicle crime, serious assault and personal robbery in the four weeks up until April 12.
In India, the Delhi Police reported a 70% fall in heinous crimes (murders and rapes) between April 1 and 15 compared to the same period last year.
In Chennai, the total number of crimes dropped by 79% in the March 25-April 15 period over the February 25-March 15 period.
Uptick in domestic violence
However, this period saw a worrying surge in domestic violence cases.
The Tamil Nadu Police, for instance, reportedly received 2,963 calls on domestic violence in April alone.
Data show that domestic violence increases when there is greater unemployment.
The fear and insecurity of these men cause tension at home and unfortunately, women become the victims of this tension.
Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, Geneva: pandemic is both a threat to, and an opportunity for, organised crime, especially illicit drug trade.
Another new trend is the riseincybercrime.
New portals have been launched to get people to donate money for the cause of combating COVID-19.
There is large-scale manufacture of ineffectivemasks and handsanitizers.
24 March: Supreme Court directed the States and Union Territories to constitute high-poweredcommittees to consider releasing convicts who have been jailed up to seven years on parole, in order to decongest prisons.
Seizing the moment at the WHO
On May 22, 2020, Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, was elected the Chair of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) executive board.
The 34-memberbody is tasked with implementing the decisions of the recently concluded World Health Assembly (WHA).
The elevation affords India an important platform to steer the global public health response to COVID-19.
It also comes at a time when the WHO is being rocked politically as never before.
On May 18, U.S. President Donald Trump wrote a letter to the WHO Director-General, threatening to make permanent his temporary funding freeze as well as reconsider the U.S’s membership in the organisation if the latter did not commit to major substantive reforms within 30 days.
Earlier that morning by contrast, at the WHA plenary, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $2 billion to fight the virus, pair up 30 African hospitals with domestic counterparts, accelerate the building of the Africa Centers for Disease Control headquarters, and ensure that vaccine development in China, when available, would be made a global public good.
India’s policy approach: As WHO executive body chair, India will have to navigate this treacherous power landscape with candour and tact.
India must insist that epidemicprevention and controlremain the international community’s foremost priority.
Identifying the animal-to-human transmission origins of SARS-CoV-2.
India should lean on the WHOsecretariat to fast-track the “impartial, independent, and comprehensive review” of the WHO’s – and China’s – early response to the outbreak.
The WHO-China Joint Mission featuring renowned global epidemiologists had termed China’s early COVID-19 response as the “most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history”.
India must promote the establishment of an appropriatemultilateral governance mechanism for ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines for all countries.
India must stay aloof from the West’scampaignto re-seat Taiwan as an observer at the WHA. When Taipei last attended in 2016, it did so under the explicit aegis of UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, whereby the UN considers Taiwan to be an integral part of the People’s Republic of China.
India must lead the call for a permanent global ban on the consumption and trade of wild animals, with limited exceptions built-in for scientific research, species protection and traditional livelihood interests.
With two-thirds of emerging infections and diseases now arising from wildlife, the destruction ofnatural habitats and biodiversitylossmust be taken much more seriously.
Central Vista: 3-km long stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan toIndia Gate.
The Centre has been rushing ahead, ignoring pleas to pause it for further deliberations.
The plan is also to construct a new Parliament building by March 2022 and a common centralsecretariat by March 2024 along with new residences for the Prime Minister and the VicePresident near South and North Blocks which will be repurposed as museums.
There will be a new building for the PMO.
A triangular-shapedParliament building next to the existing heritage structure, and office buildings all along Rajpath, after demolishing existing buildings.
Till date, the government has not publicly stated the project’s estimated cost.
The decision on redevelopment was taken in a hurry and withoutadequate consultations.
The Opposition, environmentalists, architects and citizens have raised a range of concerns even before the pandemic brought in additional issues.
Independent expert members of the Central Vista Committeecould not attend the meeting where it was passed without much discussion, as per the minutes of the meeting.
The monsoon has finally set in over Kerala in keeping with the textbookdateofJune 1.
In May, the IMD had forecast a four-daydelay in the onset over Kerala.
This was premised on a relatively mild summer, in early May, in north India and several spells of WesternDisturbances, which are rains from the Mediterranean, as well as the impact of supercycloneAmphanin the Bay of Bengal.
A private meteorological company had, however, forecast an early monsoon arrival — on May 28 — because its models seem to suggest diminished impact of Amphan.
But last week, the IMD updated its onset forecast to say that ‘favourable conditions’ for the monsoon onset were likely on June 1.
The IMD has clearly defined criteria for declaring the onset:
Eight of 14 designated meteorological stations in Kerala and Karnataka must register 2.5mm rain for two consecutive days
There must be 30-40 kmph westerlies (winds from the equator reaching India) at a certain height
A certain value of radiation
Heavy rains overKeralaalone do not determine onset.
While the IMD is a primarily scientific organisation, it faces competition from domestic and international companies in providing weather-related services.
In crop insurance, power distribution and short-range forecasts, the IMD no longer has a monopoly on providing weather information.
Last year the IMDfailed to communicate that 2019 would turn out to be the wettest in two decades.
Every year of normal monsoon has brought with it both torrentialfloods and long dry spells.
IMD should work on disseminatingmorepreciselocalisedweatherforecasts.
Multilateralism in the new cold war
In the new cold war, defined by technology and tradenot territory, non-alignment is an uncertain option; India should craft a global triumvirate.
To benefit from global change, countries must have a bold vision and make the right strategic choice.
Britain quickly built the largest military in the Subcontinent using the land revenue of Bengal, and over time conquered India.
The United States fixated on splitting the Communist bloc ended up with China challenging its dominance.
As chair of the Executive Board of the World Health Assembly (it is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization), India can set the global response in terms of multilateralism, not just medical issues.
InSeptember, the United Nations General Assembly will discuss the theme, “The Future We Want”.
In2021, India joins the UN Security Council (non-permanent seat) and chairs the BRICS Summit, and in 2022, hosts the G-20.
A rare alignment of stars for agenda-setting.
Non-Aligned Movement, May 2020, Prime Minister Modi called for new principles for the international system.
His new globalisation model based on humanity, fairness and equality has wide support in a more equal world as, for the first time since 1950, everyone is experiencing the same (virus) threat.
We should use this opportunity to recover our global thought leadership, think Nalanda, astronomical computation, the zero, Ayurveda, Buddhism, yoga and Ahimsa as well as clothing the world for millennia.
The clash between China and the U.S. at the just concluded World Health Assembly in May marks the end of the multilateralism of the past 70 years.
The donor-recipientrelationship between developed and developing countries has ended with China’s pledge of $2-billion.
The agenda-setting role of the G7over UN institutions andglobalrules has also been effectively challenged by WHO ignoring the reform diktat of the U.S. leading to its withdrawal, and characterisation of the G7 as “outdated”.
Social and economic rights have emerged to be as important as political and procedural rights and China’s President Xi Jinping deftly endorsed the UN Resolution on equitable access to any new vaccine.
With the Westexperiencing a shock comparable to the one experienced by Asia 200 years ago, the superiority of western civilisation is also under question.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift of global wealth to Asia suggesting an inclusive global order based on principles drawn from ancient Asian civilisations.
Colonised Asia played no role in shaping the Industrial Revolution; the Digital Revolution will be shaped by different values.
It is really this clash that multilateralism has now to resolve.
China has come out with alternative governance mechanisms to the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization with its all-encompassing Belt and Road Initiative.
The U.S., European Union and Japan are re-evaluating globalisation as it pertains to China and the U.S. is unabashedly “America First”.
The world is questioning both U.S. and China’sexceptionalism.
China, through an opinion piece by its Ambassador in India, has suggested writing “together a new chapter” with “a shared future for mankind”.
The Asian Century should be defined in terms of peaceful co-existence, freezingpost-colonialsovereignty.
Non-interference in the internal affairs of others is a key lesson from the decline of the U.S. and the rise of China.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter rightly observed that while the U.S. spent $3 trillion on military spending, “China has not wasted a single penny on war”.
National security now relies on technologicalsuperiorityin artificial intelligence (AI), cyberand space, and not expensive capital equipment, as India’s military has acknowledged.
Instead of massive arms imports we should use the savings to enhance endogenous capacity and mould the global digital economy between state-centric (China), firm-centric (the U.S.) and public-centric (India) systems.
A global community at comparable levels of well-being requires new principles for trade, for example, rejecting the 25-year-old trade rule creating intellectual property monopolies.
Global public goods should include public health, cropresearch, renewableenergy and batteries, evenAI as its value comes from shared data.
Ancient civilisational values provide the conceptual underpinning, restructuring both the economic order and societal behaviour for equitable sustainable development, which a climate change-impacted world, especially Africa, is seeking.