As the world currently grapples with the Coronavirus Pandemic, other major global issues have been swept aside. With the onset of the pandemic, it has highlighted major loopholes that international bodies haven’t rectified and there is a dire need to do so. This article talks about problems that are common to all and hence they are called global problems. Apart from stressing on the issues, the reader will also gain an insight into the steps taken by various international organizations. For example, United Nations, World Bank, and the World Health Organization. It will also entail diverse examples of countries that have been badly affected by the problems, and what changes have occurred with the intervention of bodies mentioned above.
Apart from western countries, continents such as Asia and Africa are one of the most vulnerable places in the world. It is important to note that western countries too have major problems, however, the intensity with which it is felt is minimal as compared to Asia and Africa and that is partly because of the financial stability of the first world countries. Since the effect is felt worldwide, let us turn our attention to problems affecting the globe.
Problems in the world
1.Global Poverty: There is a strong demarcation when it comes to the economic conditions between the global north and the global south. However, the prevalence is a lot more In African countries and most importantly India. Although major steps have been taken to combat the problem, Poverty has left a trail of destruction in its path. It is estimated that over 1.3 billion people across the globe live in destitute areas often surviving on $1.25 a day or even less. Victims of poverty often survive on one or two meals a day.
The worst affected by poverty are children. With little or no food available, it opens the doors to many problems. One such problem is that of Malnutrition. Spreading at an alarming rate, one in ten children is born with a low birth weight while it is one in four in the Asian Subcontinent. 45 per cent of the death in children is because of malnutrition. We must understand that malnutrition not only means less food. Here, the component is nutrition. Obesity is another kind of malnutrition and according to World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately, 1.9 billion people are overweight.
Global poverty is a matter of grave concern. It has made the lives of people a living hell. With minimal food and a thatched roof over their heads, poverty is a global emergency. Ravaging the world, organizations must ramp up efforts to combat it.
Although there is a dramatic improvement in the lives of people with 10 per cent of people living on $1.90 a day compared to an enormous 36 per cent in 1990. In the recent context, the novel coronavirus has made the global situation a lot more problematic. As the global economy goes into recession, poverty rates will shoot up along with job loss, and little or no access to health care facilities.
2.Gender Inequality: Despite making up half of the world population, there have always been social barriers to their overall development. Even though there have been many social movements demanding equality for women, there is still a long way to go.
Deprived of basic rights such as education for financial reasons or a belief that education doesn’t matter for women, inequality is deeply rooted in society. They are paid less for the same work a man does. Often, victims of sexual harassment, women are at higher risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease more commonly known as STD.
Sadly, yet interestingly according to the World Economic Forum women are 47 per cent more likely to suffer severe injuries in a car crash because safety features are designed for men. The gender gap is enormous and closing the gap would require at least a century. Furthermore, there are only 6 countries out of a total of 195 that give equal work rights to women. These countries are Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Sweden, and Luxembourg.
Organizations such as the UN are constantly trying to educate people about women’s rights. United Nation’s 17 sustainable development goals is a shred of evidence, with Gender Equality being the 5th goal.
3.Food Scarcity: A major global concern, the number of people going to bed on a hungry stomach is increasing as we speak. It is because of food that all health-related problems arise. With economic instability, and very little money being produced, it will inevitably lead to food scarcity in the world.
It is interesting to note that there is a direct correlation between migration and food security. People move out of a country in search of better job opportunities and better quality of living. Ironically, it is the refugees who suffer the most as far as food security is concerned. United Nations SDG number 2 is Zero Hunger aiming to eradicate it by 2030. Food scarcity is also related to poverty as mentioned above.
4.Climate Change: The term climate change, at the surface level, weather conditions of a place over many years. The unpredictable weather pattern, destructible floods, and rising sea levels, climate change is real that calls for large scale intervention.
With the advent of industrialization, the greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing at lightning speed which has largely contributed to the rising temperatures. Burning fossil fuels that produce a great deal of smoke has also tremendously impacted the natural climate of the world. With rising temperatures, glaciers have been melting rapidly. In response to this, an Italian glacier was covered with tarpaulin sheets to slow down the melting.
The UN has repeatedly emphasized the need to use renewable energy. However economic problems of majorities act as a hindrance. Apart from suggestions, there has been an overall consensus in a bid to solve this problem. The Kyoto Protocol legally binds the first world countries to reduce their co2 emissions. The first commitment of the same started in 2008 and ended in 2012. Similarly, The Paris Agreement in 2015 also embarked on a journey to reduce carbon emissions globally. Young activists like Greta Thunberg has also tried to mobilize people about climate change.
5.Water Crisis: Being essential to livelihood and survival, one in nine is deprived of this crucial resource. According to the World Economic Forum, the water crisis is one of the most important crises in the world. People often scamper around in to get water. For example, standing in long queues only to get one bucket of water.
Having no access to water results in poor sanitation, which further results in the spread of communicable diseases. Being financially vulnerable and having little resources to buy, the spread of diseases results in many deaths across the globe. Similarly, the water crisis has a detrimental impact on the ecology and more so for farmers whose livelihood island. Loss of crops and drought are common in a water crisis with farmer suicides being very prevalent in many parts of the world.
People are left with no option but to open defecate and wash clothes in water bodies. This has harmed marine life awfully. It is imperative to understand that not all water is for our use. Much of the water is saline and cannot be used. The water crisis has caused rampant destruction to livelihood.
With the commencement of liberalization and many MNCs looking to take over the public sphere, water was also a target to be privatized. A prominent example of this is the Bolivia Water War also known as the Cochabamba Water War. Here, water was on the verge of getting privatized. The cost of water would have been exorbitantly high. Mass gatherings and demonstrations later came to the rescue and their demands were finally met.
6.Environmental Degradation: Forests cover approximately 31 per cent of the world. They are extremely important to human survival since they keep climatic conditions moderate. It is home to 80 per cent species, it keeps the flora and fauna intact.
Forests are under threat. With industrialization, growing population, and fewer places, forests are being jeopardized. We are sacrificing around 18.7 million acres of forests every year. Environmental degradation is a matter of grave concern, particularly in tropical rain forests. The Amazon Rain Forest is slowly being converted into a place for cattle ranching and has lost quite a big chunk of its forest.
7.Homophobia and Transphobia: With the scrapping of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, The LGBTQ community did get the rights on paper, but are they really free when it comes to practice? Often looked down upon, the LGBTQ community is a marginalized section of society still struggling for basic rights. Homophobic and Transphobic slurs are extremely common all over the world, more so in India.
Violence against them has been reported in all regions of the world. From bullying to physical violence the LGBTQ community is a textbook example of social oppression in practice. They are also victims of punitive rape. It refers to the rape of women on the assumption that she is a lesbian and the purpose is to get her rid of homosexuality.
Violence may take place in varied social settings such as streets, parks, and also in custody by prison guards or officers. They are victims of heinous violence such as being mutilated, burnt, and castrated. They are also forced to take electric shock therapy to change their sexual orientation.
We need to realize that gender is a social construct and gender norms are a product of society. Most importantly, one should accept the fact that gender is extremely fluid and is ever-changing. This ostracisation has also lead to widespread suicides across the globe. This is because of the stubbornness of people concerning gender identity. For example, a lesbian rights activist Pauline Kimani was given death threats in Kenya. Seth Walsh, an American, took his life because of the bullying he suffered at the hands of fellow school students.
8.Religion/Communalism: Refers to allegiance to one’s group rather than the whole society. Be it the Hindu/Muslim or West/South communalism has spread all across the globe. Throughout history, there have been conflicts on the ground of religion. In the process, many innocent people lost their lives or their loved ones.
There are many examples of this. For example, China against the Uighur Muslims or the violence against the Rohingya community in Myanmar who had to leave and sought shelter in Bangladesh as refugees. Coming to India, The CAA NRC debate had also led to communal clashes in the national capital.
In his book India’s Struggle for Independence, author Bipin Chandra notes down 3 types of elements to communalism. First, people belonging to the same ethnic group would have the same interests. Second, it’s called liberal communism which means a person believes in his religion, but also believes in democratic values. Third, is extreme communalism which is based on hatred towards other communities.
9.Global Unemployment: There is a huge disparity in unemployment between first world countries and third world countries. While unemployment is everywhere, the rate of it is more in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Globally, the tally of unemployment stands at 188 million and this number is also expected to rise. The remaining population doesn’t indicate that they are employed. Some work without pay and some have stopped looking for work.
Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the unemployment rate is expected to rise. With lockdown being imposed all around the world, the economy has come down crashing. States haven’t been able to produce revenue due to which the price of commodities has been alarmingly high. Sometimes, it is also the other way round. For example, U.S oil future prices fell below zero, for the first time in history, to settle at minus $37.63 per barrel.
Looking at it from a sociological perspective, unemployment also gives rise to drug addiction. A documentary by Vice News titled ‘Zimbabwe’s Codeine Cough Syrup Epidemic’ is one of the many examples of a strong correlation between unemployment and drug addiction. This documentary highlights the growing unemployment and simultaneous drug addiction spreading all across the country. Despite banning it in Zimbabwe, the cough syrup still makes its way inside the borders.
10.Sanitation: The global problem of sanitation is primarily the root cause of widespread communicable diseases. Having very little access to water has often proved to be fatal. Poor families do not have a toilet, frequently end up open defecating. According to the United Nation, 827000 people die of diarrhoea because of very poor hygiene.
The development gap between western countries and other is massive. Open defection is an indicator of poverty. Countries where open defecation is prevalent report the most number of deaths in children under the age of 5.
The World Health Organization has been taking charge of providing basic enmities to the vulnerable population. Recording statistical data, WHO also recommends the powerful countries to do their bit to combat the problem.
Read: Manual Scavenging
While the pandemic has taken everybody by storm, it has also indicated the fragile nature of many countries. It has hinted to the world organizations that their efforts have come to little fruition. The problems highlighted above are to be dealt with as an emergency. There should also be conscience among the powerful states to collectively come together, and help the countries. The world should come together and believe in the motto One Planet the Earth One Family Mankind.