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Are Authoritarian Regimes Dealing With COVID-19 More Efficiently Than Democracies?

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As the impact of COVID-19 pandemic increases fiercely on economies across the globe, rising allegations on China over providing incorrect information about coronavirus cases and subsequent suspicions over China’s alleged pre-planned involvement paves the way for various conspiracy theories to emerge and revivify the question of ‘New world order’. As such scholars had already predicted that the USA and China are bound to go in the direction of the war, as ‘Thucydides trap’ suggests. The ongoing trade war between the two and COVID-19 has only made this hypothesis clearer and stronger than ever.

Speculations of China-centric world order, post-COVID, remain elusive. Passengers wear masks to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus in a subway station, in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Advocates of conspiracy theories, though, have been extremely critical of China’s role without having justifiable and unanimously acceptable facts and evidence, raise a question of plummeting infection cases and quicker than expected recovery rate of infected patients in China. Now, even if conspiracy theories are believed to be true, the question arises about how China is going to take benefit from it? The answer remains uncertain. Even the scholars of International Relations haven’t been able to give a clear picture depicting a new global power configuration. At most, it can be argued that a new international system may emerge or the existing system may be revised. However, speculations of China-centric world order remains elusive. China has vociferously claimed that it has successfully contained COVID-19 by imposing draconian measures including a complete lockdown of cities. It then announced a series of humanitarian packages and also started supplying medical equipment to European countries.

How Will China’s Position Of Power Translate Into Economic Gains?

If there is anything substantial that China’s export-based mindset may aspire to gain, here is a translation of its power stature into economical benefits. As cases in China started declining, its economy is believed to be started recovering. However, nothing is surprising and dramatic here which can suggest that China has some kind of extraordinary growth model that can vindicate the theory of China-centric world order. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that the Chinese economy can flourish in a situation when demand, at least for a shorter period, will remain sluggish in a post-pandemic world.

coronavirus outbreak china
Some scholars have asserted that China would capitalize on its success in containing the outbreak to emerge as the new global leader.

Some scholars have asserted that China would capitalize on its success in containing the outbreak to emerge as the new global leader. However, such an approach may backfire because China can’t afford to get crumbled it’s already maligned Soft Power. It is highly likely that West in general and the United States, in particular, are going to impose reasonable trade restrictions including Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.

Fareed Zakaria had suggested that we are living in a post-American world where there is a decline of the west and the rise of the rest. The above words seem true considering the failure of the USA and the European Union to deal with the crisis. America’s unwillingness to lead a globally coordinated response to the crisis is no surprise considering Trump’s disregard for multilateralism. Official figures of infections and casualties in the country reveal utter helplessness of the USA despite having world-class infrastructure and well-developed healthcare.

Failure on this front urge leadership to accept harsh geostrategic realities. It is the time the USA needs to realize that not every war is won using snipers. One thing that COVID-19 has decisively established is that the liberal world order is in a grave crisis. Liberalism, international institutions, civil society, and multinational companies will probably be the losers in the post-COVID-19 era, as Talha Kose suggests in his article.

World Health Organization has been proved ill-equipped and incompetent at every level to deal with pandemics of such severity. The present world order is uncertain. It is said that there is neither new nor order today. Charles Kindleberger argued that the disastrous decade of the 1930s as a result of the United States’ failure to provide global public goods after it had replaced Britain as a leading power.

Today, as China’s power grows, will it be able to provide global public goods? Chances of China, howsoever giant and economically vibrant seems, providing global public goods including stable climate, financial stability, freedom of seas remains meagre.

China does not seem to be in a situation to assume responsibility as a global leader at a time when existing issues remain unsolved and new issues are emerging to which China is equally indifferent and clueless. The only thing COVID-19 has proved is that the authoritarian regimes may be more efficient than democracies in dealing with such a crisis.

However, such an argument can’t have a debilitating effect on the liberal world order. Whether a new international system emerges or an existing system is revised partially or completely, the ideas of multilateralism, cooperation, collective growth, and global governance are not going to lose relevance any time soon.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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