Arguably, the word 'conscious' has lost its lustre faced as it is with hard truths that border on the bizarre. Eight hundred million people in the world are illiterate. That is after reluctantly accepting the various terms given to literacy by different nations. Put in perspective, the figures probably are much higher. Nor is that mere speculation. If 39 per cent of the global population don't have access to hand-washing facilities aka fresh, clean water, it doesn't say much about proper education, that is expected to inform policies leading to improvement in life and livelihood.
These two factors didn't get priority in the G-20 summit held recently. Instead, the focus was on Covid 19, Climate Change and Iran. So much for the global leaders of the biggest (sic) economies and their focus on priorities. Discussions on the pandemic were glossed over from making vaccines available to the prospects of business (not economic) recovery. Climate Change was a hemming and hawing exercise over vague dates for obtuse commitments on zero-emissions. Deliberations on Iran were conveniently not disclosed.
Ever since the capitalist driven agenda won over and obliterated the Non-Aligned movement, the G-7 grouping took centre stage. As their wealth declined with ageing and negative population growth, markets had to be found for goods and services. All sorts of carrots and freebies were offered up ranging from aid and grants either directly or channeled through various donor agencies, institutionalised or non-government. Creation of demand and then dependence on , initially finished goods and then raw or input material furthered the agenda of dominance.
Developing countries have always been left to play catch-up, successful at times till they came up against the wall that is inputs. As the focus shifted to natural resources a new, sinister process of political engineering through overt and covert means became the norm. There's no hiding the facts that 'free lunches' don't exist. Aid agencies have been exposed as being mere peddlers of government agendas. Third and developing world leaders that saw through it were conveniently deposed, some through harsh means.
And yet, there was no stepping back by countries that were called on to form the bigger grouping of G-20. Its remit was fixed by the G-7 with little if any inputs from those signing up, barring nudges, arm-twisting and plain sops. It isn't by chance that the G-20 comprises those nations outside of the G-7 that have either large, lucrative economies or very high growth probabilities based on demand, export potential and crucially, natural resources. Questions are never asked why the G-7 or G-20 don't include any communist leaning countries and certainly not Russia or China. Definition wise the last two aren't just major players militarily, they are potential economic goldmines.
One of the definitive reasons for the decline of the NAM was its inability to present a United front to problems and issues. A second was the inability to cobble up funds for investment in the problem areas. Had that been the case, the adventurism in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan might not have panned out the way it has. The World Food Programme has forecast that 35 million Afghans face starvation and being frozen for lack of fuel under a Taleban government that was given a free-hand to rule. Perhaps the word 'fail' works better than rule. No government has recognised the Taleban. It's initial policies, specifically deriding women's rights, has resulted in a total dry-up of aid and support required to help the country run. Under the US-NATO rule, most of the money channeled in to keep the installed government afloat was gobbled up by corruption. Taleban's own funding came from extortionist taxation, drug trade and Opium farming. That was and will continue to be covert. The country has no export potential industry as of yet. It's rich natural resources have to be extracted using technology they don't have access to. Overtly, government to government cooperation works only when there's mutual recognition. That's not the case with the country. We suddenly have a case of a group ruling the country without a recognised mandate. Allowed to take power, the regime doesn't have the wherewithal economically or politically. Faith is what drives it; faith that is already supported by means that go against it.
Penalising the people of Afghanistan can't be a solution. A trickle of aid is being sent and allowed in but is nowhere near to that required. The exasperation of the WFP Afghan head was clear. 'There's 400 trillion dollars out there on the planet. Don't tell me these people can't be helped'. They can, but won't . Just like the hapless migrants seeking security and livelihood from the morass of what's left in their countries. Take a closer look at the G-20 profile and there's a huge hole between humanitarianism and the capitalist theories that were to address it. Charity begins at home.
That which is missing is the opportunity presented. If the Taleban can come up with theories that are cushioned by those of faith, more connected with the realities of today, there are possibilities. The sooner realisation dawns that island existence isn't sustainable, the quicker solutions will be found. Humanitarianism exists in faith and disbelief, in socialism and capitalism. Wedging the divide further won't be of help. For the divide to narrow, there has to be accommodation and compromise at least in the process if not the roots. One fears that the worst is still to come. Capitalist interest was what spurred the violation of sovereignty under the guise of the increasingly becoming banal guise of democracy and human rights. The tragedies that are Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and Afghanistan have exacerbated that which was to be fixed.