By Dr. Arun Mitra
Much euphoria is being created about the upcoming G-20 meet in Delhi next week. The high pitch is particularly to project that it is because of Prime Minster Narendra Modi that India has got the chairmanship of the group. Truth of the matter is that in the G-20 there is a rotatory system of chairmanship. In fact India could have been the chair of the G20 last year but it was delayed by one year. The G20 has several agendas to discuss, but the most important ones are the global peace and health for all.
World today is in a very critical situation because of on-going armed conflicts in several parts. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is the most serious one at this juncture. As per the UNO over 14400 people have been killed including 3604 civilians. Over 8 million people have been displaced externally living as refugees in other countries.
The issue has not remained just between Russia and Ukraine; with the explicit involvement of US and NATO the things have gone too far. Both sides have warned of use of nuclear weapons. After the US President Joe Biden issued the statement that they would supply cluster weapons to Ukraine, Russia has warned that in that case they would be left with no other option but to use nuclear weapons. This is a very dangerous situation because any nuclear exchange at this time on that border will not remain between Russia and Ukraine; it will be a nuclear exchange between Russia and USA & NATO. As per the latest scientific studies this would mean death of over 5 billion people which would be an end of modern civilization built through thousands of years of human labour. Study conducted by the IPPNW and the environmental groups has already shown with evidence that even a limited nuclear exchange, for example between India and Pakistan, would lead to death of over 2 billion people. But an exchange between Russia and US would be much more catastrophic.
In addition there are conflicts going on in different parts of Africa and Asia. These internal strife have International support in one form or the other for various economic interests of the rich nations. The situation in Palestine or in Syria are examples of extreme human rights violations. It is therefore important that the G20 takes a firm decision on such issues of nuclear disarmament and check on the proliferation of small arms.
However it seems unlikely because the G20 is not a homogenous group. It is a group of countries with self-interests dominated by the multinational corporations and military industrial complex. This is in contrast to the Non-Aligned movement (NAM) which took effective steps and raised serious concerns on the issue of disarmament, development and human rights in different countries. It is well known that India had played significant role at that moment. NAM was founded at the initiative of Jawaharlal Nehru, Marshal Tito and Abdul Gamal Nasser. The NAMs 7th summit was held in Delhi in 1983 in which heads of the states from 117 countries participated and there were 20 observers from several countries. In contrast, the G20 is a tiny event but with much hype.
It seems unlikely that the G20 meet would come out with a firm declaration to abolish nuclear weapons which is now possible through a multilateral Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) passed by the UNO on 7th July 2017. There is a strong lobby within the G20 who opposed the TPNW in the UNO and put tremendous pressure on the members of the UN General Assembly. These countries are the protagonist of theory of nuclear weapons as a deterrent.
It is very much unlikely that G20 will come out with a concrete decision on health for all which requires equitable distribution of resources for healthcare. We have in fact witnessed how the Pharmaceutical companies particularly vaccine producing companies played havoc during the COVID pandemic and blackmailed smaller countries who did not have either technical knowhow or resources to produce vaccines on their own. Big Pharma companies are known to have made huge profits during the period. For any talk on health for all, affordable drug pricing and equitable healthcare, the Pharma companies have to be regulated and their profits made transparent.
It would be good to watch the on-goings of the G20 and outcome in various sectors. But the countries which are there the USA the England the France have pro corporate ideology and economic interests. Will they be ready to part away with the arms or will they be ready to make effective changes in the world trade organization so as to meet the requirements of the developing countries for health for all.
As chairperson of the 7th non-aligned summit India played a big role in organizing the developing countries on the one goal of this disarmament, equitable development, human rights, health for all etc. They passed resolutions supporting the cause of Palestinians and on other issues of human rights.
For such decisions there is need of statesmanship. That statesmanship is lacking in our polity at present. (IPA Service)