Iden Sungyoung Kim

Event Reports

The World after Corona: Webinar for scholarship holders in Berlin

by Isabel Weininger, Lewe Paul

Chinese and Indian scholarship holders developed recommendations for policy and decision makers

From April 7-16 the Department Asia and the Pacific in Berlin organised a webinar for KAS-scholarship holders from India and China who are currently in Germany, on the topic “The World after Covid-19”. During two online live debates and several written tasks as well as an ongoing online discussion on the implications of the Corona-pandemic for Germany, for their respective countries of origin and the world in general, the participants developed recommendations for policy and decision makers. The outcome are recommendations for Germany, India and China. This will further encourage the participants to build on their created ideas and thoughts and level-up the set of recommendations to discussions on feasible policy frameworks and their implementation. This was the second meeting of the Asian group of scholarship holders in 2020, after a first meeting with the team in Hamburg in January.

Summary of Recommendations:

 

Recommendations for Germany

  • Germany should be a driving force in strengthening solidarity among the European Member States and regaining political, economic and social stability.
  • Digital infrastructure has proven to be a vital tool in coping with the Corona crisis. It has also become obvious that all parts of the society, in particular public administration but also many private companies, are still lagging behind in digital transformation. We have to unleash this potential for creating new values and enhancing resilience. Europe must face the task of delivering its own model regarding data security, transparency and open public use, in which Germany’s more cautious approach can play an important role.
  • The crisis has triggered a long overdue discussion about over-dependence in what many assumed to be a limitless and ever more connected world. All countries have to carefully consider and strengthen our systemic vulnerabilities in infrastructure, production and services when we conceptualize a post-Corona economy. As part of the same effort, we should avoid building a defragmented, protectionist world.
  • At first glance, the nation state seems to emerge as the benefactor. But in mid- and long-term perspectives, the contrary seems to be the right answer, because the crisis has made one thing abundantly clear: we have a shared responsibility for one another. Everyone should take guidance from this when making decisions or simply communicating about issues of international scale. Germany and the EU should use their political capital to enhance global cooperation. This includes a strong stand against the spread of disinformation for political gain.

 

Recommendations for India

  • Basic hygiene, social distancing and access to sanitation are vital for the fight against a pandemic as Covid-19 has shown. In India, the most vulnerable seem to be the poorest parts of society who are likely to not be able to practise the above mentioned due to a lack of shelter and food. Therefore, we must reaffirm the importance of the fight against poverty and sustainable urban development.
  • The situation of the middle class will also deteriorate, since the majority doesn’t have employment contracts and social protection systems are nonexistent, especially in the informal sector. The government needs to obtain more data of working conditions of the citizens and pursue a general reform in the official labor-policy. Formulating an inclusive and equitable labour policy for protecting the precarious workers in India should be an imperative, in addition to reiterating the importance of International Labour standards by the ILO and international community.
  • Women and the Youth will need special protection by the Indian government. Due to an increased involvement of women in the informal sector, the rampantly prevalent gender gap and raising numbers of domestic violence; this pandemic has magnified the challenges for women. Once this crisis is over, there is a need to revisit gender inclusive strategies and reformatory measures in this regard. Other than social and economic crisis, the partial collapse of the Indian educational system especially in rural areas will lead to an uncertain future for many children, pupils and students in India. Reform and financing of the educational system needs to be protected.
  • Fake news and the spread of false information was a big problem during the crisis, also in India. This is why the government should provide new platforms for authentic news and information, which can be easily accessible for all citizens – also illiterate poor people. There should also be strict punishments for spreading fake news.
  • The most important will be international cooperation in order to tackle the problems. Aftermath the pandemic, we should think towards investing a greater share of GDP in the field of research, technology and health system.

 

Recommendations for China

  • As consequence of the Crisis, China is going to face a severe unemployment crisis, in particular affecting the millions of migrant workers from China’s poorer provinces in the Western part of the country. The government should strengthen capacities of rural areas and smaller cities in order to provide employment opportunities there. Stimulus packages for SME’s should be provided as they are the backbone of the economy and essential actors to set the framework for competition and the healthy development of markets.
  • Hygienic standards have to be improved, especially in public spaces in order to prevent infection scenarios in the future. As the risk of a second infection wave has to be taken into account, more focus should be set on measures to secure food production.
  • As a first stronghold of cross-border trade, easier handling for e-commerce sector should be provided, so that small-businesses could try to come back to business as usual - based on digital solutions.
  • From a global perspective, strategic platforms should be strengthened that push forward the expansion of technology and innovation. As the creation of standards play an important role, democracies should work together to set norms to creating a transparent and trustful technological infrastructure.
  • China as an international actor should try its best to restore trust internationally. Hence, a more pro-active and transparent handling of the crisis is necessary. An international crisis of this extent should not be based on a winner and looser mentality, instead it needs international commitment in providing adequate and trustful information. Hence, a bigger role of civil society and entrepreneurs is necessary to enhance the quality of communication and the level of trust between societies, private sector and governments.

The views expressed in this paper, does not necessarily reflect the position of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

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Iden Sungyoung Kim
January 30, 2020
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