The world is literally going through apocalypse phase with the outbreak of deadly viral disease known as corona virus from past three months. It originally grapples people of Wuhan, China but it has now spread all around the world. So far, more than 18900 people have lost their life due to this disease and more than 423121 people have tested positive (www.who.int ) Due to its fatal nature among human, it has led to more than half of the world on lockdown mode with India of 1.3 billion population becomes the world’s largest democracy to go into biggest lockdown in world history in a bid to control the spread of pandemic and save lives. Besides India, many countries like USA, UK, Italy, Spain Australia, New Zealand etc. have partially or completely lockdown its territories and restrict the movement of people of their region.
While it has definitely put the normal life of human beings on hold, it has also given much needed life to our mother earth. Because industrial sector and vehicular traffic has come to a halt at present in many part of the world, it has given a new boon of life to not just planet earth but also flora and fauna. Not long ago, I use to wake up in the morning by car honking and now I wake up with birds chirping around my home, in my house lawn. The level of air pollution, noise pollution has certainly come down and it has happened in many parts of the world for example in Venice, Italy for the first time water looks clearer in lakes and water canals . In India, Mumbai which is famous for Marine beach for the first time people spot dolphins due to reduced water traffic. China reported significant 40% decrease in air pollution level as evident by photograph taken by NASA’s Earth Observatory (below) on February 28. It also allowed a temporary ban on farming and consumption of “terrestrial wildlife of important ecological, scientific and social value” in wake of corona virus outbreak.
Not only this, International Energy Agency has also predicted fall in percentage of oil use in 2020. Airline sector which is emission- intensive covering 2.6% of global carbon dioxide emissions is plummeting at the moment and there is little ray of hope that this sector may give profit to governments around the world in near future. Due to low operational activities of airline sector, carbon dioxide emissions will definitely reduce around the world.
The pandemic situation is definitely healing our planet and it is something that should be celebrated while it lasts. It is also our only chance as humans to rise to the occasion and consider living eco-friendly life, one which is in tune with conservation of earth resources. The governments must also play an active role in framing green laws and adhere to international agreements relating to conservation of natural resources and climate change. COVID-19 is a wake- up call for survival of human race on earth during any natural disaster or biological catastrophe and should not be taken lightly. It is the right time to take right action to treat earth as important part of our existence before its too late…
The world economy was facing the implications of US-China trade war over the last two years or more when recently it was hit with another historical event that has not only put human survival at risk but also global market in the form of COVID-19 also known as ‘Corona virus’ of which initially China was epicenter and it wasn’t spread beyond the territories of China till mid-January, 2020 and so was not a concern at international level. It all change in February when more people outside China contracted this disease. It spread like a fire in rest of the world with more than 140 nations affected by it. As a result, World Health Organization (WHO) declared it as ‘Pandemic’. As of now, more than 90000 people have been tested positive and more than 3500(at the time of writing) people died. As a result of surge in global spread of this disease of which cure is not yet known, it is badly affecting economy all around the world.
Internationally, stock exchanges are crashing each day leading to suspension of trading on it in various countries like UK,USA, Phillipines ;global market has become volatile and is in panic mode as evident in bonds, gold and commodities; investors are suffering huge loss not just in India but globally too same thing is happening; international trade has come to a halt for indefinite period of time and it is badly affecting the free flow trade among countries with many nations have closed their borders and air services in order to control the pandemic situation. In light of the ongoing situation, people are being forced to work from home which has further created another economic challenge. Many people are facing either job cuts or wage and income cuts due to non-operational of business sector. Among the sectors of economy, the one which is facing maximum hardship is the manufacturing sector due to non-availability of not just raw material due to limited import- export services but also non-availability of labour.
Various corporations be it huge or small scale business houses, startups, firms have closed their offices until further orders from their governments. There is also panic in not just international market but also domestic market. People are anxiously stocking up essential goods and as a result, there is either shortage of products or they are available at high prices which not all sections of society able to afford.
In such testing time, the world economy is certainly brazing itself to face and survive in COVID-19 hit economy. Many market experts believe the existing market situation will get worse as time progresses and it may result in financial inequality, economic pressure.
IMPLICATIONS ON WORLD ECONOMY
Under government instruction to control the situation, business firms and shops are taking precautionary measure and are not operating. This has certainly disrupted normal business flow both domestically as well as internationally, so now one question which everyone is concerned about is how this pandemic disease going to impact economy, its various sectors, market forces and for how long?
While at this point of time, economist and market pundits cannot predict for how long such market disturbance is going to continue and within how much period of time, situation in market returns to normal, yet they definitely has answers as to how COVID-19 will affect global economy and they have serious concerns. Some economists are of the view that the world is going through recession similar to events occur in 2009 and there is very limited scope of economic expansion. According to ETAuto.com, the USA, EU region is likely to witness negative growth and China is likely to grow at scant rate of 1.5%. India too will face similar growth cut and its GDP is expected to grow at the rate of 5.3% instead of 5.4% by one of the leading global ratings agency Moody. Among the sectors that are worst hit by the pandemic is travel and tourism industry. Many people are on the verge of losing their jobs or salary cut. Unemployment was already high in 2019 and this shutdown has made the situation far worse. Similar situation is happening in USA where reports suggest that unemployment rate is highest since 1929-30 and there entertainment industry is worst hit due to shutdown of movie theaters, productions.
HOW THE GOVERNMENTS HANDLING IT?
However, governments around the world have declared or in the process of declaring ‘economy booster packages’. In USA, President Trump has announced to purchase corporate bonds worth $1 trillion and has speed up the plans to deposit $1000 directly to American citizen’s bank accounts to give them emergency financial aid. UK, Spain and France have also announced emergency financial packages for payment to employees and providing loans and guarantees to companies to survive economic blow it is facing due to corona virus. India has set up ‘Covid-19 Economic Response Task Force’ to decide on relief packages for sectors hit by pandemic outbreak as soon as possible.
In this dark economic time, there is little hope of economic recovery as much depends on how soon medical professionals and researchers come up with a ‘cure’ that is effective in trimming the hazardous effects of virus on human race. One ray of hope is that in the last 2-3 days , China has reported zero locally transmitted cases and if the same trend continues will benefit China on path to economic recovery soon. But until then, we have to brace the impact of the impact of this pandemic disaster with the hope for a ‘Better and Prosperous economic future’.
The concept of ‘Brain dead’ and ‘Organ Donation’ is inter linked when it comes to declaring a person dead in India and for donating his/her organs after life cease to exist. Traditionally speaking, a person is dead when his/her circulatory and respiratory functions terminates and are irreparable. But, brain death is legal definition of death. It is the ultimate scenario in which body becomes unresponsiveness due to no function of entire brain including brain stem. In Indian context, the term ‘brain dead’ is defined and linked with organ donation in the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994.
For many years a continous debate is going on among medical proffessionals, educationists and other think tank group over taking off patient’s life support system after declaring brain dead. Recently, Kerala state in India became the first state to give liberty to doctors to take a patient who is declare brain dead to be taken off from ventilator system without family members consent. Earlier declaring someone brain dead is directly related to organ donation which means that if a person is declared as ‘brain dead’ but his family refuses to donate organs, then doctors had no option but to put patient on ventilator system and wait. This is known as Opt-In-System (Consent for donation is required). Under new state government order, before declaring a patient brain dead, they have to follow 10-step procedure and if it meets criteria, then treatment shall be discontinue and patient will be declare brain dead and that’s it. All the cardiorespiratory support and all treatment will be discontinue once brain stem death is declared. But before all of this, medical practitioner shall inform patient’s kin about the status of patient’s health in whom brain stem cell testing is being considered. There are certain test laid to determine brain activity with Apnoea test being the last one to determine brain stem reflex. To declare a patient ‘brain dead’, a panel of doctors need to perform a series of prescribed test twice within minimum interval of 6 hours and if the test result stands the criteria set out, then the panel must declare patient dead and all cardio-respiratory support must be discontinued.
Although medical professionals hail this decision as necessary and optimum use of life supporting system and by de – linking brain dead with organ donation, it would remove confusion in the minds of doctors and members of patient’s family. After Kerala Government’s decision, the onus of decision shall solely fall on doctor. But clearly, giving such life altering liberty to doctors is like them playing the role of God and needs to be look into and needs to make them accountable
BRAIN DEATH UNDER US MEDICAL LAW
In USA, the American Academy of Neurology holds the authority regarding brain death , its determination and guidelines to be followed by US hospitals. According to AAN, ‘Brain Death’ is mentioned under the Uniform Declaration of Death Act,1981 (UDDA) as ‘a person is dead when he has sustained irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain including the brain stem. According to this act, brain death and circulatory death is equivalent. However, in USA, ‘brain death’ is accepted as legal death. According to AAN guidelines on ‘Determining Brain Death in Adults’, a doctor will determine a patient who is brain dead by considering three steps. First, the person is in permanent coma, secondly, a patient’s brainstem reflexes have permanently stopped functioning and third, breathing is finally stopped. When all tests including Apnea test determing brain function is done on the patient and the physician arrives at the conclusion based on lab results that ‘there is no brainstem functioning happening in patient, he will declare him brain dead and call his time of death. He will then spend some time with dead patient’s relative to let them know of few decisions which they have to make regarding organ donation. If organ donation does not takes place, doctor will still turn off any cardio-respiratory mechanism regardless of relative’s wishes to keep patient on ventilator. In USA, there is only one state, New Jersey in physician is under legal obligation to keep brain dead patient on cardio- respiratory organs for as long as patient’s relatives wants. This scenario is different in India.
As already been discussed in Indian context, declaring a patient brain dead is linked to organ donation and if patient’s family relatives decline to donate organs due to emotions, hope or their religious beliefs doctor put him/her on ventilator system because there is no clarity on the next step the doctors need to take in case relatives of a patient decline to donate organs and also they fear of involving in any legal suit against them.
The intention behind delinking brain dead and organ donation is saving limited ICU facilities artificial respitarory instruments on sufferer which isn’t brain dead and in dire need to be given such treatment. Also, giving doctor’s the sole decision making power, emotional burden on family members can also be lift off as in most cases they are unable to take rational decision. However, there is also a flip side to it. Giving doctor so much power might go against ethics and wishes of deceased family member wishes. There are so many legal cases filed against medical professionals like doctors for medical negligence that certainly now such decision taken by doctor/s would certainly attract negligence. For example Dr. S Ganapathy filed an appeal in 2017 in the honourable Supreme Court against private hospitals for alleged practice of harvesting organs from ‘prematurely’ brain dead patients. In November, 2019 a bench comprised of the then Chief Justice R. Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose granted four week time to the petitioner to bring evidence on record to show instances when private hospitals have prematurely declared any patient brain dead as alleged in the petition.
In my opinion, Kerala government’s decision to separate declaring a patient brain dead from organ harvesting is a rational step. It is not only meeting international medical standards but also such a decision and execution of it is certainly going to save respiratory resources which are limited in India and can be of use to other patient in need. Apart from this, a concious and active efforts must be done by state and central government along with NGO’s and private entities to create awareness about active organ donation, its benefit of saving someone else’s valauble life and separating it from any sort of belief. Also, a uniform national policy must be framed to give physician power to take decision in declaring a patient brain dead after conducting necessary tests and creation of independent committees of doctors in every private and public hospital so that a unanimous deicision will be taken by them to declare a sufferer ‘brain dead’. But they also need to be held ‘accountable in case of any negligence occur’ Also procedure and rules also need to be declared by the medical and legal council as to the next step after a patient is brain dead and whether ‘organ donation of perfectly good organs must be done or not’ as this will save doctors from legal entanglement by the dead patient’s relatives.
European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration with NASA today launched its most ambitious solar project in outer space known as ‘Solar Orbiter’ mission on Atlas V 411 launcher from Cape Canaveral, USA. Its an ambitious project because it took nearly two decades in the making from planning to executing to history making successful launch towards sun. Launching any object towards sun for study and research on it is very challenging due to high temperature and to withstand it for a period of time. The purpose behind this launch is to study the Sun up close, its creation and how it works and sending pictures of the Sun’s undiscovered polar regions to the respective space agencies.
As per ESA’s official website, Solar Orbiter’s launch mass is around 1800 Kg and is equip with 6 solar panels and 10 science instruments will also investigate the intensity of radiation and energetic particles that emits out from the Sun and how solar storms affects the earth. Solar orbiter will face the Sun from within the orbit of Mercury which is the closest planet to the Sun. To face mounting heat temperature, the spacecraft is fit out with black heatshield technology that will ensure that its scientific instruments remains protected. The heatshields are capable of facing heat temperature up to 500 degree Celsius.
During its first stage, the spacecraft will take less than two years to reach its initial operational orbit. It will then enter to highly elliptical orbit around the sun by using gravity- assist flybys of Venus and Earth. This flybys will prove to be helpful for spacecraft to change its inclination to observe the Sun from different angles and particularly to capture images of the Sun’s polar regions which is a first attempt by any space agency. However, ESA’s Solar Orbiter is not the first mission to study Sun and its activity with close proximity. It was NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission which was launched in 2018 to study the Sun’s atmosphere known as Corona for the first time and to explore the cause of solar winds and it is still in operational mode. But the ESU’s solar mission is first of its kind in the sense that it will fly towards the Sun’s polar region and is equipped with cameras that will take images of it for the first time while the NASA’s solo solar mission will be the first to pass through sun’s surface closely but doesn’t equipped with cameras to view sun directly. This is where ESU’s solar orbiter supersedes NASA’s Solar Probe and that the former will fly near the Sun’s poles where no other space object with cameras has reached.
But, history has been created by both the space agencies. Earlier, it seems to be a distant dream to study sun’s atmosphere at such close proximity without the nightmare of being burnt up. It now is a reality and is going to prove beneficial for human race.
Can any international space organisation or a private space player claim on the discovery they made in outer space or on the celestial object they mine in space? What about the ambitious dreams of companies who are in neck throat competition with each other to set foot on celestial objects and other planets. Can they claim ownership?
It’s a fact that outer space is no one’s jurisdiction at least on papers it is not possible. Space is free from all domain. All states are free to explore anything beyond earth peacefully. They are free to explore planets, moon and celestial bodies. But in doing so, can any state stake claim that ‘I find it first, hence its mine’? The Outer Space Treaty,1967 prohibits any such thing. According to article 1, outer space shall be free from exploration and use by all states without discrimination of any kind, in accordance with international law and shall be free to access. With same principle, article 2 states that outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty by means of use or occupation or by any other means. But USA in 2015 passed US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act which some experts suggested that such a law has override the Outer Space Treaty as according to this law, a US company can be an owner and seller of whatever material they extract from the moon, asteroids and other celestial bodies in space including their finding after mining any celestial body.
So now question is, is such an act constitutes violate international space treaty? And what could be done to avoid conflict because at this point of time state space agencies are exploring space at horse speed. Also Outer Space Treaty is not clear as to how its provision regarding no claim of space applies on private companies as an international treaty like international law is not strictly binding on the subjects. Space mining work is in progressive stage with space agencies and non- governmental players have started mining asteroids to extract minerals and water resources present on it. If any state start claiming on any natural space object on ‘first reach, first acquire’ basis, it might become a subject of tension among rest of the world as very soon human race will return to moon for living etc.
For this, besides international cooperation, a separate set of rules and regulations is needed and efforts must initiate among all nation to address this as soon as possible. Amendment in Outer Space Treaty will not be suffice. As law is a subject in which research is non- empirical and suggestive, so in depth research needs to be carried on with the aid of country’s space agencies and non-governmental entities to find a possible solution.
” Human species has drawn line on the earth to possess their territory and land but space must be free of such shackles “…
In the coming months, the world will witness another history making moment in outer space in the form of ‘space tourism’. Big space corporation like Space X, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic etc. are all working tirelessly to launch manned trips to space in the second or third quarter of 2020 although it is more expensive for now with Richard Branson’s company charging $250,000 per trip to space trip. Yet in many ways, it is safe to say that ‘space tourism’ will be the next hot tourist spot and that too beyond earth.
Who would have thought twenty- thirty years back that the time to witness earth from space by human beings excluding astronauts shall become a reality soon all thanks to the big space players who are not only working towards giving prospect customers experience of seeing earth from space but also aims to set up colonies on moon and other celestial bodies also to give more leisure experience to them latest by 2025. Bezos’s Blue Origin is preparing two rockets – New Glenn and New Shepard for the said purpose. Space X is focusing on lunar tourism and aims to send its 2 paid customers on a trip around the moon in 2021. It has also unveiled its starship MK1 prototype for reusable launch system capable of carrying people to moon, mars and even far ahead. Not only non- governmental players are taking interest in this area of space exploration, but the state players are also in partnership with private companies are eyeing to establish their presence in this sector. USA’s space agency NASA in June, 2019 at a news briefing declared that that NASA is opening the International Space Station (ISS) to space tourist from America on US owned commercial vehicle and will cost around $58 million.
Over the past 10-15 years, there have been tremendous development in the field of space exploration and technology not just by developed states but also by other countries like India, Brazil, Australia who are giving tough competition. Space tourism industry is proving profitable not only politically but also financially. This industry is being estimated to be worth of more than $1.18 billion according to (marketstudyreport.com) by 2024. This sector is proving to be giving investors best returns also. Richard Branson’s space company recently went public at New York Stock Exchange as a subsidiary under Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings (SCHH) and thus became first commercial spaceflight company to be listed on the stock market. According to its official website at the time of its merger with SCHH, it was valued at $1.5 billion.
Given the future potential of these companies along with other private space companies, it can be safe to assume that this sector is going to thrive at the same par with other sectors like IT and Airline sector and will be lucrative for investors and human race. It will be the next big spot for tourist, one that space nerd like me is eager to witness. So hop on the big space tourism plane and enjoy the ride.