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Surviving Pandemics – The Path Of Global Solidarity

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The next catastrophe that can befall our world will be another pandemic and not a nuclear explosion. The Coronavirus pandemic has paralyzed Nations, killed hundreds of thousands of people, and destroyed the world’s businesses and the economy.

Since the SARS epidemic (2002), we have been attacked by Swine Flu H1N1 (2009), MERS (2012), Ebola (2014), and now Covid19 (2019). The WHO has played a stellar role in the control of epidemics across the world. A deadly new virus strain is attacking the world every few years. It is clear that any one of the new viruses may turn out to be truly deadly for the human race.

Pandemics can achieve such a high level of boundary-less scale, that they wield immense power of destruction. Added to this, when the Nation-States respond to the pandemic in an individualized manner, the collective thrust of the global response gets weakened significantly.

Eradicating pandemics can be achieved only through global solidarity on healthcare between the Nation States.

Global Solidarity On Healthcare

There is no denying that the Coronavirus pandemic, however temporarily, has today brought the world closer together, than at any other time in the recent past. The main reason is that in this crisis, all Nation States and all humans have a common enemy – the virus. In this crisis, there is greater cooperation to share information, medical data, testing kits, PPE, and participate in the race to discover a drug and a vaccine. Human beings have come closer together with the realization that a tiny virus can spell the destruction of our world, and that all of the world’s intelligence and resources combined are helpless against it. We live in a world where the interdependence of Nation States is paramount.

Among scientists and intelligentsia today, there is a consensus that global solidarity and cooperation, as against nationalism, is the way to rid the world of this pandemic. Any action against this principle is being denounced by people of all Nations as despicable.

Unfortunately, the path to global solidarity is blocked by extreme forms of Nationalism.

Extreme Nationalism Blocks Global Solidarity

Extreme Nationalism’ prevents Nation-States from cooperating, hinders sharing information, and collectively crafting ways to eradicate pandemics. In short, it is the primary detriment to global solidarity.

The allegiances of National political leaders are National in character, and so are their electoral promises.  They are leaders of their own Nations, which are competing for the same resource pie as other Nations. Naturally, they have an inward focus, as opposed to co-operation with other Nations. Hence, co-operation with other Nations is seen by many National leaders as working at cross purposes to Nationalism.

Except for the European Union (EU), there is no example of Nation States cooperating with each other, from day to day on a broad range of issues. In spite of the Union, in the EU, from its initial response to the Coronavirus pandemic, like closing borders, procuring PPE and testing kits, etc., we know that the actions of Nation States were based on ‘every Nation-State for itself’. It was not a cooperative or coordinated EU response.

In spite of the UN Secretary General’s best efforts, the Nation States of the world have not been successful in releasing a single common UNSC resolution on the Coronavirus.

Unfortunately, of late, Nationalism has been on the rise, encouraged by the US Government with the Trump administration driving US companies to bring manufacturing back to the US from foreign countries. Bilateral trade negotiations progress hand in hand with tariff wars with China.  This is a radical departure from multi-lateral trade agreements supported by the WTO.

The US has unilaterally walked out of the Iran Nuclear Treaty and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which has been in force since the Cold War.   These steps taken by the US are a move towards extreme Nationalism and a move away from global solidarity.

This has weakened the global Organizations built painstakingly over the past several decades. Eventually, National trade interests will be protected by all countries and tariff barriers will spring up. Nation-States will use their purchasing power to achieve political ends. These changes are likely to speed up further in many countries across the world.

The management of the Coronavirus pandemic by the US leadership speaks poorly of the country’s overall competency. The No 1 country of the world has been ill-prepared to handle the pandemic. At this crucial time, President Trump has announced a halt of the US funds to the WHO. This is in addition to stopping the processing of Green cards for ninety days. These decisions are seen by the global community in poor light.

While the US is unwittingly struggling in its traditional global leadership position, China is trying to project itself as a worthy global player. By its management of the Coronavirus pandemic, followed by quickly and efficiently restricting it to Wuhan/ Hubei province, winning the war against the virus in Wuhan and later selling Testing kits and PPE to other countries in need, China wants to prove to the world, that it knows what it is doing and that it is in control of the situation.

Therefore, at this time, it appears that both global solidarity and global leadership are compromised. This environment is however conducive for discussions on building higher levels of global solidarity.

Structures for Global Solidarity

The UN was formed on 24 October 1945 based on “the principle of sovereign equality of all nations” and for “collective security”. Franklin D Roosevelt said that an “International Organization was the best means to prevent future wars”. The UN has been the primary mechanism thereafter for the maintenance of world peace and security.

In the light of the deadly pandemic, it is time again to rejuvenate the United Nations, WHO, and other global agencies. Their Charters should be redrafted to include the “protection from pandemics” as an additional mandate. In case of a veto in the UNSC, India should take the lead and use the UNGA Resolution 377A “Uniting for peace” to obtain a special session of the UNGA to pass the ‘Protection from Pandemics Resolution’.

The WHO should place “Protection from Pandemics” above its other six global priorities.

Adequate funding for the Multi-lateral Organizations and under-developed Nations States, by the developed Nation States, will hopefully be ensured, when the Nation States realize that the entire human race is inextricably connected to the global network of infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses which respects no Organizational or Nation-State borders.

Mass production of vaccines and medicines across the globe at affordable prices, accessible by all countries, will be a core determinant of implementation success.


The survival of the human race from pandemics will depend on the actions taken by the UN Organizations, and the level of global solidarity. Global solidarity is by no means a foregone conclusion.

The great lesson that the killer Pandemic can teach us is that when it comes to combating Pandemics, global solidarity should prevail over extreme Nationalism.

About the Author :

Rajagopal Tampi is MD of VALUEMOVES Computing Private Limited.  Views expressed are personal. Please leave your comments on the Author’s Blog or you may email the author at

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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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