A pandemic of power grabs- The Economist

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People across the world are reeling under the coronavirus. While the world is busy fighting the deadly virus, autocrats see an opportunity in this disaster to grab absolute power.

The Economist report highlights, “China chose this moment to tighten its control around disputed reefs in the South China Sea, arrest the most prominent democrats in Hong Kong and tear a hole in Hong Kong’s Basic Law”.

Though we understand that this is an exceptional situation as the report argues, “Covid-19 is an emergency like no other. Governments need extra tools to cope with it”. It is assumed that the power acquisition will be relinquished later. However, places where democracy roots are fragile, would see the continuation of these absolutist measures after the virus has gone away.

Even in liberal democracies, a gathering of people has been banned on the pretext of coronavirus. “Autocrats are delighted to have such a respectable excuse for banning mass protests, which over the past year have rocked India, Russia and whole swathes of Africa and Latin America”. 

Many governments have postponed elections, opposition parties are being throttled, and in India, “Minorities can be scapegoated. India’s ruling party is firing up Hindu support by portraying Muslims as COVID-19 vectors”.

Regimes in China and Russia are deploying high-tech devices to “snoop on practically everyone”. No one knows how much abuse of power was prompted with this pandemic as journalists and human-rights activists are cut-off from the public sphere. In India, they are being hounded by the government with several arrests of anti-CAA protesters.

These liberty-constricting actions are unfortunate as they could lead to small consequences for public health.

Tags:- coronavirus, China, Hong Kong, Muslims, human-rights activists 

Here is the link to the original article : https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/04/23/autocrats-see-opportunity-in-disaster

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