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The Impact of Covid-19 on Women and Girls’ Sexual and Reproductive Health

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the world, concerns are rising about the effect of the virus on women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health, and their access to contraceptive care. Past humanitarian crises have shown that when there is a disruption in the supply and access to routine health care services, it is women and girls’ who are disproportionately affected, simply by virtue of their sex.  

In an attempt to halt the spread of the virus, governments across the world have ordered sexual and reproductive health services to close, on the grounds that these services do not meet the ‘essential’ criteria. The reallocation and reprioritisation of these services have only exacerbated rates of neonatal and maternal mortality and morbidity, increased rates of adolescent and unwanted pregnancies, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Forced closures have also ensured that women and girls have been discouraged from accessing safe abortion services, putting the lives of themselves and their unborn babies in serious danger. 

This article will explore the ways in which Covid-19 has disrupted the provision and supply of sexual and reproductive health services, with a particular focus on contraceptive access for women and girls across the world. Policy recommendations, which can help governments and humanitarian organisations to understand the ways the pandemic exacerbates direct and indirect health impacts on women and girls, will also be explored. 

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Tobacco Ban in Bhutan

Bhutan is a remote Himalayan nation, landlocked and bordered by two of the world’s most populous countries – China in the North and India to the South, West, and East. In 2004, Bhutan became, and still remains, the only country in the world to implement a nationwide ban in the sale of tobacco (both cigarettes and in smokeless form). Lack of organized lobbying by businesses and the absence of tobacco production industries made the passing of this legislation relatively easy. Along with bans on the sale of cigarettes, smoking in public spaces and the advertisement of tobacco products the ban included that tobacco products for self-consumption (only in limited quantity) declared at customs while entering the country would be subject to a 100% duty. 

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Terrorism and its impact on tourism in India

India is a diverse country and a popular tourist destination, one that has been vulnerable to terrorist activities for a long time. Not only has terrorism claimed the lives of many people but it has also hampered the smooth functioning of the country’s economy. This article studies the direct negative relationship between tourism and terrorism.

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The Green Transition: South Korea and Japan follow UK Pledge to Work Towards Carbon Neutrality by 2050

The South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, has formally pledged that the country will become carbon neutral by 2050. This commitment to achieving net-zero emissions within the next 30 years is not an unprecedented step, but is in line with recent global efforts to tackle climate change.  

Major world economies have now vowed to end their dependence on coal and replace it with other forms of renewable resources as part of their Green New Deal, which involves a shift towards renewable energy and energy storage systems, as well as low-carbon energy systems. In 2019, the European Union set itself a similar target, with EU leaders agreeing to make their then 28 member states carbon neutral by 2050. Japan quickly followed suit with Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga making an ambitious pledge to accelerate the country’s global warming targets. China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has promised to become carbon neutral by 2060, and vowed to begin cutting its emissions within the next ten years. It must not be underestimated how bold and ambitious these targets actually are. 

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Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, a new climatic momentum is emerging

Introduction

In December 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement, a new climate treaty, aiming to limit rising temperatures at +2 °C above pre-industrial levels. This “monumental triumph for the people and our planet,” as exclaimed by UN Secretary-General at the time Ban Ki-Moon, states that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must come down to ‘net-zero’ levels between 2050 and 2100. As a decentralized and bottom-up system relying on signatories’ nationally determined contributions, the success of the Paris Agreement can only be achieved if countries ratchet up their ambitions. 

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Tales of a Pandemic: Migrants, Dissidents and the State

With the Covid-19 vaccine(s) seemingly on the horizon, it is important to reflect upon this period of acute stress and paranoia with regards to national politics. India, as far as domestic political discourse is concerned, has declared itself the champion of lockdowns and preventive measures.

While the world was grappling with the monumental failures of the American government pertaining to healthcare and the oppression of its own people, many aspects of the Indian lockdown flew under the radar, barely questioned by even the most vehement critics of the Indian government, out of fear, reservation, or bewilderment. It has been observed for over six years now that the current government exercises something of a blitzkrieg in the announcement and implementation of its policies. This suddenness is, indeed, an extremely deliberate political strategy that incapacitates any thought of opposition. This is evident in one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent speeches where he remarked how people in other countries resisted lockdown measures, but the Indian people immediately fell in line. What the Prime Minister leaves out in his speech, however, was the manner in which the citizens of India were confronted with the lockdown. 

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A Pandemic in itself? The Mental Health Crisis of Covid-19

The Covid-19 crisis, which has rapidly spread across the globe, has now exceeded 50 million confirmed cases in 190 countries and more than 1.2 million deaths. This pandemic has not been selective in who it targets, but rather, has had an unprecedented effect on the lives of almost every single human being.  

As the UK exits its second national lockdown, complaints have repeatedly been raised about the harmful consequences of a singular focus on the virus, with people questioning why the all-important side effects of a lockdown have not received the same attention. Though the protection of the physical health of individuals remains a priority of most governments, there are accompanying side-effects of a lockdown which can also be disastrous and need to be acknowledged. One such side effect is the impact that the pandemic has had on the mental deterioration of young adults. Based on these findings, I will consider some policy and practice recommendations which can help governments, schools and universities to better address the mental challenges facing young people today. 

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The Big Swap: Energy and Water Bartering

The 1960’s Indus Water Treaty was the first intervention of a global organization – the World Bank – that focused not only on keeping peace at the border between Pakistan and India but also pursued regional development(United Nations, 1962, p.140; Akhter, 2015, p.68). The World Bank’s proposal – the dam and its subsidiaries built along the basin – left some wariness on the outcome’s success. It split the use of water along the border and limited the type of economic activity of the neighbouring countries sharing the basin (Akhter, 2015, p.65). Nowadays, the Punjab and the North-Western regions are rich in energy – provided by the dam’s hydroelectric power – but is still an arid area where regular water consumption comes in considerably from groundwater pumped through solar panels. Strangely enough, the North-Eastern regions of India face the opposite case with the Ganga River Basin overflowing.

Fig 1. The Indus Rivers and associated infrastructure in 2012 (Source: Akhter, 2015, p.69; Mustafa 2013)

The valley of Ica, located on the desert coast of Peru, south of Lima, has been a significant agricultural and energy producer due to its year-round sunny weather and strong desert winds. The soil nutrients and weather conditions provide crop flexibility that can adjust according to the available water supply (Swedwatch, 2018). Recently however, as a result of climate change, it has been inevitable for farmers – both big and small – to suffer a significant reduction in the water supply of the region’s main rivers. Its neighbour in the Andes, Huancavelica, an impoverished mountainous region with little access and benefits from national development, enjoys enough water flow from the River Pampas (Gestion, 2019). This river runs across the Ica region and into the Pacific Ocean without benefitting the valleys since it does not connect to any main irrigating river where most agricultural activity concentrates. After years of dispute escalated to national authorities, the central government approved a project for constructing a dam and detour of the River Pampas (Gestion, 2019).

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United Nations Emergency Force I (UNEF I): The Stepping Stone of United Nations Peacekeeping

The effectiveness of United Nations Peacekeeping (UNPK) has been debated over the course of its 70-year history. Peacekeepers have shown that they are resilient among crises and adaptable in the 21st century’s ever-changing landscape. This article explores the historical context of United Nations Peacekeeping, from its foundation to the contemporary era, specifically examining their mission’s establishments and breakthroughs and their respective influence in shaping the course of peacekeeping for the years to come. 

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The Russia-China Relationship: Authoritarian Axis?

After Russia’s Annexation of Crimea and the imposition of US-EU sanctions against Moscow in 2014, there has been an unprecedented increase in Sino-Russian cooperation. From these post-Crimea developments, Western analysts posit that Russia has ‘decisively aligned’ with China in an ‘Authoritarian Axis’ to oppose the United States and undermine the liberal international order. This article contends that conceptions of a Sino-Russian ‘Axis’ are not only inaccurate, but also prevent rational policy formulation by US policymakers. Drawing on Russian foreign policy discussions, this article outlines the pragmatic nature of the Sino-Russian relationship and will conclude with implications for US strategy. 

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