The following questions were prepared for a UN75 dialogue co-hosted by The Dais, Rana University in Kabul, Afghanistan and the Mandate Project. As a brief background to the initiative, the UN launched a global dialogue wherein people from all walks of life, whether in classrooms or boardrooms, across the world are being asked what kind of world they would like to live in. The idea is to enrich the public discourse and crowd-source solutions to the complex problems faced by society. The substance of the discussions and recommendations will be forwarded to world leaders during the official commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UN to be held in September, 2020.
In order to reach as many people as possible, the UN is partnering with youth, civil society, business and media organisations, and has created a one-minute survey that is quick and easy to complete. We encourage everyone to take a couple of minutes to fill out the same.
This initiative also comes at a time when the world is under the shadow of an unprecedented health crisis with severe and, as yet, uncertain economic and social impacts. In this light, we selected the present topic to have a discussion with students from Rana University in Kabul. During the course of the dialogue, the speakers raised several key issues that are being faced in Afghanistan. In order to open the discussion, we have invited the students to continue the conversation on this platform to engage with all interested individuals who are interested in addressing or learning more about this issue.
The questions are meant to serve as a starting point for a larger discourse. Please feel free to raise any new questions or to share your insights and observations on the ones listed below:
Broadly, in what ways do you think the pandemic will affect developing countries worse than developed countries?
Do you think the pandemic will result in changes to the FDI landscape in Afghanistan? For instance, how do you think it will affect projects like the TAPI pipelines?
How can a balance between health/human lives on the one hand and reviving economic activity on the other hand be achieved? What considerations do you think must be prioritised in striking such a balance?
Do governments need to take on stronger regulatory roles, or should industries be granted greater autonomy in self-regulation? What are the possible advantages and pitfalls of each option? (For instance, governments capping the retail price of face masks to prevent price gouging. How far do you think government should take market regulation)
The pandemic has underscored deficient spending on healthcare, education, environment etc. How do you think the pandemic might force governments to reorient their spending going forward?
The problems faced by marginalised and economically weaker populations have been compounded by the pandemic in developing countries. How has the government responded to such problems in Afghanistan? How can the government improve its response?
In response to crises, we may often see short-sighted policy reactions. For instance, in the 1930s there was a shift away from economic liberalism and free trade to economic protectionism. Which approach would you favour in responding to the economic recession that has resulted from Covid: Deepening international cooperation or economic isolationism?
Severe recession has been associated with a fall in demand and persistent losses in output. Expectations of weak future growth discourage investment and so become self-fulfilling. What kind of measures are required to counter the drop in demand and output?
Long periods of unemployment can cause loss of skills and may permanently deter workers from seeking jobs. Many companies may disappear. In such a scenario, what kind of employment opportunities can be created to engage the workforce?
Most of us have witnessed environmental indicators register a marked improvement during the periods of lockdown. Even hardened sceptics have acknowledged the role of human industrial activity in polluting the environment. Can there be a shift away from a carbon-intensive pattern of economic activity in times to come?
Gender roles are often predetermined within a society. The privilege underlying these roles can lead to economic inequality between the genders. Do you think the pandemic related economic slowdown has had any specific impact on women? If yes, what and how can these be addressed?
When future generations look back at the crisis, will it be viewed as a decisive turning point? If so, in which direction? Are there certain directions which ought to be avoided?
Please use the comments section below share your views and suggestions and to engage with the community.