In 2016, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) contributed to 66 percent of the total deaths in Nepal. For the United States, this number stood at 88 percent and for OECD countries it was 87 percent. It is a feature of the developed world that NCDs be their greatest challenge and a feature of ours that children in remote villages like Jajarkot die every year from communicable diseases such as diarrhea. When our country cannot even at times provide access to adequate amount of Jeevanjal and paracetamol, it would be quite naïve to expect them to deliver a vaccine efficiently and uniformly—if and when that arrives.
Impartiality has been one of humankind’s longest and the most elusive pursuits. Despite a variety of reforms enacted throughout history, none of them seem to be enough to get us past the finish line. One would assume that a democratic framework, through increased representation, would gradually bridge the divide in society—and it does to a certain extent—but when the pace of progress appears to be sluggish, there is the risk that passive public participation might end up being the same as compliance to an unjust regime.
When it was decided that the United States would join the First World War, President Woodrow Wilson promised the world would be “made safe for democracy”. Having been reelected in 1916 with the campaign slogan “He kept us out of war”, this decision marked a reversal of the initial position of ‘neutrality’ adopted by America in 1914. But it wasn’t just Wilson who had a change of heart; the entire country witnessed a shift in public opinion. The sinking of the Lusitania, the revelation made by the Zimmermann Telegraph, in culmination with other factors, suggested imminent danger to the sovereignty of United States, and in response, President Wilson issued the declaration of war in 1917.
These are rather peculiar times that we find ourselves in. As the dark clouds of fear and uncertainty hover above, the world desperately lies in wait for that elusive fresh beginning. This is not the first time that a crisis has befallen our planet. As a matter of fact, in all these years of human existence, we have faced and we have overcome horrors far worse than what the current pandemic is shaping up to become. It is estimated that anywhere from one third to half of the population of Europe perished because of the Black Death.
A year before Parasite, an American biographical comedy-drama directed by Peter Farrelly won the Academy awards for best picture. The movie follows the concert tour by the distinguished African American pianist and a jazz composer, Don Shirley, through the deep south sometime in 1962. To put this date in perspective, this was before Martin’s Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination.
When Carl Linnaeus first coined the term Homo Sapiens in the year 1758, modern humans had already shed their seemingly homogenous biological construction to reveal differences that were far too festered for common grouping. The ideological, religious and cultural leanings of different societies all over the world have been shaped with experiences and doctrines that are unique and relevant only to a particular community or a group.
Human birth comes with inherent affiliations not just to the family that the individual is born into, but also to the society that the child will later be a part of. The aggregation of people living within a certain geographic region creates a web of networks so intertwined that a mere whisper at one end can set off vibrations at another.