Why Interdependence must guide the World: Amna Mirza

Enhanced cooperation for a more holistic expression of national interest is need of the hour writes Amna Mirza, Assistant Professor, University of Delhi


An eerie sense of anxiety and paranoia prevails all over the globe as updates on coronavirus pandemic loom large from World Health Organization calling Europe as it's epicenter to United States President Donald Trump, like many other heads of state, terming it as national emergency.  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made humanitarian appeal to combat the Corona outbreak for regional cooperation, which was appreciated by all majority South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations. 

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS- 2003), H1N1 influenza virus (2009), Middle East respiratory syndrome (2012), Ebola, Zika- commonly called as modern viruses, have depicted to us the unseen threats that emerged for international affairs and global health with their ease of transmissions. They can spread more deadly than other forms of infection, and have ruinous impacts on economy, livelihood, travel, population, sustainability, amongst others. 

The process of Globalization with rampant innovation in technology and community, amidst all debates and churnings, was being heralded to be moving towards a new phase of 'Globalisation 4.0', with contours of Industry 4.0, shaping the way forward.  Now with corona outbreak many nations closing their borders with and amongst each other, travel schedule being cut down, social distancing being talked about, somewhere globalism seems to be defeated.  

No doubt, globalisation and the associated norm of globalism was always contested- as it did give gains yet one cannot overlook the losses in the trade off. At one point if the world witnessed benefits of rampant flow of goods, services, trade, electronic capital, amongst others, then one cannot overlook the losses like new security threats whose impact cut across all borders. Yet one cannot miss out the advantages offered by interdependence to only mitigate any crisis but also to appreciate the idea of other alternatives offered. 

From building walls, resurrection of barriers to factor in advantages in realm of national interest of a state, the world witnessed rise of an inward looking protectionist narrative which often called for roll back of process of globalization. Declining levels of solidarity yet at the same time the saga of idea of being in isolation, did pose challenge to it. In contemporary times, one cannot deny to live with the paradox- blurring yet reinforcing barriers and boundaries. It is not to say that one does not need safe borders, but one can also not do away with cooperation as a tool to work out solutions to contemporary contested issues of world order. 

The present World order is peculiar where borders and military challenges fall short in face of  challenges confronting populations. Working together beyond polarised fault lines, from video conferencing by SAARC nations, Chinese medical team in aid of Italy, Cuba with other nations to fast track anti viral treatment, does offer some bright rays of hope as the world shares the same sky. 

Dealing with any crisis requires a multidimensional strategy and multidisciplinary understanding of the problem.  Apathy, resource constraints are being noticed everywhere in realms of crisis in economy, health and in such a scenario vulnerability may be just amplified by cutting off from the other. Nations world over are jostling with common issues like balancing individual rights and public goods, and health, water, are prime examples here for all. This is why one has to ponder over benefits of mutual gains, which often lead to antagonistic identities come together. On ethical front too, joint responses do mitigate crisis. 

Not much has changed in the world, if one contrasts the Spanish flu during First World War and present Corona Virus pandemic- where both unfortunate events in human history have similitude debates around them, namely lack of transparency, accurate information, no policy coordination, long term impact on economy and demographics. 

We must recall what philosopher George Sanatyana warned us, that those who ignore the mistakes of past are condemned to repeat it. Therefore when one hears about looming crisis with oil demand falling, deceased mobility of people, fears of lay offs, recession, this indeed makes a strong case for factoring in revamped interdependence in order to decrease the shock of the crisis. Further, at a time when world is clearly seeing lines of division, non-traditional security threats like climate change, pandemics, enable us to re-experience the shared human space connect, from idea of joint research to hunt for vaccine, to global awakening on shared impacts of our surroundings. 

On an input-output model, when we analyze domestic issues which have global implications, like economy, ecology to pandemics, one finds there is presence of a certain element of volatility, wherein outcomes may be different owing to each nation's different degrees of preparedness. The journey of preparedness is too never-ending. Another troubling aspect is their unpredictability with unprecedented impacts and what is needed starting at the basic level is greater awareness. In such a scenario, it makes all the more imperative for nations to get their acts together.  

Intergovernmental cooperation, at regional and global level, on ideas of a holistic workforce policy with respect to absenteeism, working together to cater to dynamics of lack of transactions in market or reaching out to psychological fears of people, engaging and communicating, amongst others, can be of help both in immediate and long term scenario. 

The future of World polity cannot be made victim to perils of inappropriate decisions and inadequate cooperation. Security is multifaceted with burgeoning threats- involving food, health, community, nation, amongst others, and with these joint links, enhanced cooperation for a more holistic expression of national interest is need of the hour.

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