The Financial Express

Surviving in dignity during crises

Surviving in dignity during crises

In the panic-dominant present global realities, the Irish poet WB Yeats' prophetic lines continue to reverberate. The inner message of the lines from the poem 'The Second Coming' should have lost their relevance long ago. Eerily, they haven't. Things keep falling apart and the centre can no longer hold them together. Amid these grim environs, the days of long-drawn-out wars seem to be over - at least for now.

Except the localised conflicts, the world has for quite some time been free of the booming sounds of the bombers and mortars. In another scenario, the vulnerable nations have been biding time to raise the questions of cuts in the emission and use of carbon and different fossil fuels, and the operation of the climate fund.

With former US President Donald Trump brazenly opposed to a peaceful climate fraternity no longer calling the shots, the world's climate victims still look to the US. This time, the suave Joe Biden, the current President, has put the US back at the forefront of the fight for saving climate. Apparently prepared to give a patient hearing to the excesses done to the world climate, Biden told the recent Earth Summit that the US would drastically cut emissions blamed for global warming by 2030. It would be greater, 50-52pc, in levels compared to that in 2005.

In this changed scenario, leaders of the vulnerable nations with humble economies have felt encouraged to present their recommendations after fixing the climate-change impacts. It was because they had few options to becoming vocal. Over the decades, the large polluting economic powers continued to promise remarkable cuts in the near future. Unfortunately, they failed to make good on the pledges. Meanwhile, due to the incessant rise in global temperature the nightmares of climate change impacts began surfacing menacingly.

At the Leaders Summit on Climate, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina this time put forward four suggestions. Those include cutting global emission, transferring technology and implementation of the Green Climate Fund.The opportunity of the climate-vulnerable countries' leaders to speak out came quite on time on the two-day Earth Summit (April 22-23).

The summit was considered a perfect one thanks to its holding in tandem with the prevalence of a worldwide pandemic. Everything went fine in terms of the focus on emission cuts, except the ominous shadow of the dreadful Covid-19 pandemic. A nearly chaotic situation in the world's vaccine scenario was, however, about to detract considerably from the gains of the Earth Summit 2021.

With a cataclysmic pandemic sapping the nations of their inner strength and the power of endurance, the world at large finds itself bewildered at the moment. Predictions of the pandemic's stay for 2-3 more years, and their intermittent recurrence have lodged in the commoners' psyche. Against this grim backdrop, the ambience at the recent Earth Summit may have fallen short of the optimism which could have distinguished it at other times. The compulsive doomsayers have begun portraying the world as being destined to more dreary times.

Except the nagging worries about the easy availability of the Covid-19 vaccines, Bangladesh at present appears to be adequately poised to weather the pandemic crisis, and its social fallout.

Economists and social experts have, meanwhile, warned of the fast growth of a class of the 'new poor' upon losing their sources of income. They belong mainly to the working class in urban areas. This segment of people is followed by the low-grade job holders in the private sector. Unfortunately, both the classes are feared to be out of the facilities of government's stimulus packages. In consideration of their contributions, humble or mid-size, to the national economy, these segments have been made to be entitled to emergency financial incentives.

As a corollary to the nation's flawed system, many deserving businesses are set to be deprived of the urgently needed funds. Upon being finally deprived of these stimulus packages, the weakened entrepreneurs are feared to get relegated to the rank of non-entities.

Almost in the same manner, many urban middle and lower middle class families are set to cross the critical threshold to enter the segments comprising the poor and the poorer. These socio-economic developments might strike the nation only if the pandemic stays in the country for a longer time. Lapses and errors on the part of the health authorities and policymakers are feared to aggravate the situation. Signs are there.

With the crisis of the promised vaccine shots of a particular genre, viewed as being enough in the initial phase, the government appears to have been stuck in a quandary. As an emergency way out it is now pondering to turn to two separate vaccines. Knowledge about these two corona preventives is scant in the country, although they are being used in many regions, especially Latin America. Coping with the challenge of vaccine shortage is a critical test for the country at present.

Against these grim realities, the country's agriculture sector is performing impressively. Coming to the bumper paddy harvests this year, the nation can claim comfortably to be one having attained near-self sufficiency in food. Thanks to the rural areas supposedly being free of the pandemic's onslaught, the farmers were able to go ahead with paddy cultivation, tending to the saplings and, finally, harvests. The government has promised higher prices this year for both paddy and rice.

Weathering food inadequacy during the pandemic crisis is hinged on many factors. A lot depends on the authorities' sticking to the promise of procuring both the paddy and rice in the Boro season at higher prices. In Bangladesh reality, the villages are viewed as silent providers of different provisions for the nation's survival. The urban people take up the job of running the economy. These responsibilities are complementary. A pandemic cannot be allowed to mess up this chain of national survival and growth.


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