ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Vulnerable Humanity and Preparedness of Global Institutions

The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity by Toby Ord, New York: Hachette Books, 2020; pp 480, $18.99.

One of the most moving images of COVID-19 was captured not in a hospital, but at a bus depot in Delhi. The frame is packed with migrant workers, desperate to go home to their villages. Police personnel walk up and down the crowd, hitting people with long sticks, showing they are in charge. The Government of India had “locked down” the economy and shut millions out of work. Many had no place to live and nothing to eat. Not pictured in the video are those who were already attempting to walk hundreds of miles home.

The video is about COVID-19, but it is also about policy responses to the disease. Some of what governments around the world are doing is helping. Some of it is hurting. India’s lockdown has displaced many poor people. In this, India is not unique. Many governments are taking the opportunity to do more of whatever it is they do. In the United States (US), the Republicans cut environmental protections and are defunding the World Health Organization. In the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister set a risky example by making a show of shaking hands. Despite years of warnings from medical experts, politics worldwide was not ready for the challenge.

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Updated On : 4th Jan, 2021

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