Notes from the
Webinar of South Asian Affiliates of IPPNW
26th September 2020
A Webinar of the South Asian affiliates of IPPNW was held on 26th September 2020 on “Combating Triple Threat - COVID 19, Climate Change and Arms Race”. Webinar was attended by representatives of IPPNW affiliates from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India.
The session was:
Chaired by Dr Kamrul H Khan Regional Vice President of International Physician for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and President Physicians for Social Responsibility Bangladesh (PSRB)
Moderated by Dr Arun Mitra Co-President IPPNW
Main speakers: Maj. Gen. (Retd) Vinod Saighal,
Dr Meghnath Dhimal - Chief of Research Division, Nepal Health Research Council
Dr Suvrat Raju – Theoretical Physicist from Bangalore
Dr Sarwar Ali – Founder President IPPNW Bangladesh
The Panelists included:
Dr Asoka Hettiracchhi – General Secretary Sri Lankan Doctors for Peace and
Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman - General Secretary, Indian Doctors for Peace and
Dr Tipu Sultan – President Pakistan Doctors for Peace and
Dr Arun Dixit – General Secretary, Physicians for Social Responsibility Nepal(PSRN)
Dr S S Soodan President IDPD welcomed all the participants with a caution to be prepared for a hard struggle to meet the three above mentioned challenges.
Maj. Gen. (Retd) Vinod Saighal in his presentation on “Post COVID Global Scenario” warned that the military industrial complex is steadily increasing its arms expenditure despite the COVID crisis. This is likely to continue and threaten the mankind. Asia has become the centre of wars at present and has maximum number of nuclear weapons possessing countries viz India, Pakistan, China, Israel and North Korea. He also said that it is important for the global community to work for carbon mitigation. Nuclear menace must be checked.
Dr Meghnath Dhimal - Chief of Research Division, Nepal Health Research Council in his presentation on “Challenge of Climate Change” highlighted the dangers on human life by global warming which is resulting in rise in the ocean levels and also changes in the diseases patterns. He called for a concerted global effort to meet this. It is important to achieve zero emission by 2050. Two degree centigrade rise in temperature can seriously affect the life of 50 million people.
Dr Suvrat Raju – Theoretical Physicist from Bangalore said that South Asia is endangered by the ongoing arms race between India and Pakistan. The nuclear doctrines of the two countries can at any time add to the flash point and trigger use of nuclear weapons. Whereas the pandemic should have been a warning to reduce the spending on arms but instead there is a danger that the governments may divert the attention of the people from their failure to tackle the pandemic effectively and raise the bogey of threat from the other.
Dr Sarwar Ali – Founder President IPPNW Bangladesh asked for a continuous dialogue between the South Asian countries to achieve a lasting peace. He referred to Indo Pak relations in particulars which need to be improved through mutual dialogue. There is need to reduce the economic disparities through inclusive growth.
Dr Asoka Hettiracchhi cautioned that violence is a serious threat and this culture has to be checked through affective peoples participation. The US is continuously increasing the arms expenditure and its missile programmes.
Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman said that health should be at the centre stage of all planning. Hungry and malnourished people cannot contribute to development.
Dr Tipu Sultan said that it is unfortunate that India and Pakistan are spending huge amount on the arms race. Mutual dialogue is must.
Dr Arun Dixit expressed grave concern at the increasing socio economic disparities which become one of the causes of conflict. He said that the PSR Nepal is much concerned about the ratification of the TPNW by his government. For this they had organized a South Asian IPPNW affiliates’ delegation and met the Foreign Minister, Speaker of the House and advisor of Prime Minister. They assured the delegation of early action in this regard.
Initiating the discussion:
Dr G M Malik Vice President IDPD said that Kashmir is sitting on power keg. Any conflict involving India, Pakistan and China directly effects Kashmir region. The stand-off between India and China at the LAC is a very serious matter. He appealed for urgent measures for nuclear disarmament in the region and for continuous dialogue to reduce the tension.
Dr Sharad Onta from Nepal said that coming together is the only way to move forward.
Dr Bharat Pardhan from Nepal appealed for a public campaign for health and peace.
Dr Shankar Rai from Nepal demanded that once the vaccine against COVID is ready it must be provided equally to the people around the globe without any socio economic disparities.
Dr Bansidhar Mishra Nepal Ambassador to Bangladesh said that South Asia must revive SAARC and make it effective.
The webinar decided to write to all heads of the states in South Asia asking for nuclear disarmament and diversion of funds to health.
Dr Arun Mitra
Dr Kamrul H Khan
Regional Vice President South Asia IPPNW