European Migrant Crisis Asylum

European Migrant Crisis

After 66 years of ratification of asylum, when the Geneva Convention on Refugees was prepared and implemented to officially recognize the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, the world stands in the midst of a global crisis questioning the principles on which this document prepared and ultimately applied on a large international scale for nations to follow and pursue. Fassin (2013) postulates that amidst the crisis which has hit a number of nations owing to the political conditions of various nations it is intriguing to explore the historical value and significance of how refugees came to be and the laws that were put in place to offer them protection from challenging conditions. Before proceeding with commenting on the present scenario of the global refugee crisis which has predominantly impacted European nations, it is imperative to establish the definition of refugee. According to Price, a refugee or asylum seeker is an individual that has been compelled or forced to flee their home country and seek refuge in another country due to a number of reasons.

These reasons may include fear of political and religious persecution, genocide, civil war or the occurrence of a catastrophic event which has made it impossible for the individual to continue to lead their life in their home nation.

According to a report presented by the BBC, the European refugee crisis was triggered in 2015 with the influx of migrants into European nations. The arrival of asylum seekers in the continent was primarily initiated by the conflict and civil war in Syria where the Islamic State is fighting against government powers to impose their fundamentalist ideology and overtake a number of cities within the country. Following the arrival of individuals and families from Syria, the second and third largest nationalities claiming refuge in European nations Afghanistanis and Iraqis primarily on the grounds of civil unrest, violence and terrorist activity in the nations. According to the statistics provided by the BBC, Germany has the highest asylum seeker claims across all countries of Europe, followed by a major portion of refugees entering Italy, UK and Greece. The poor socioeconomic conditions of refugees have captured the attention of global media and world leaders continue to debate about the possible solutions to manage this crisis, however, at present, it is continuing to escalate.

Ethics and Politics of Asylum

The key objectives of this assessment have been set out to examine the ethics and politics of asylum as presented in Auslander Raus to understand who has the right to live in ‘new’ Europe. Auslander Raus or Foreigners Out! Is a documentary directed by Christoph Schlingensief following the victory of extreme right parties and candidates during Austrian election – as a mark of protest and to show his disbelief over the election of such right-wing extremist candidates the filmmaker placed a concentration camp in the middle of the country’s capital to denounce the ideologies which led to their election in the first place. The paper critically examines asylum from an ethical and political standpoint in the light of this documentary by tracing the publics’ perception of asylum seekers in various parts of the globe and ultimately linking it to the perceptions and thought processes which are emerging in Europe against unauthorised migrants. The paper then addresses the concerns which are being raised by them and sheds light on the message of Auslander Raus and notes how it applies to the scenario and grave situation which is unfolding right in front of the world in various European nations that have been hit by the refugee crisis.

Asylum seekers in many scenarios are viewed as the ‘other’, the sense of exclusion that they experience within their own communities is marked by a great degree of animosity from others who may view their motives with a negative connotation and essentially view them as a burden on their own community, economy and country (Haslam and Pedersen, 2007). Studying the attitudes of Australian towards asylum seekers that come into the country, a research found that Australians had mixed reactions which swayed towards the negative side when forming opinions about refugees that come into the country. The authors note that the most common concerns held by the general public pertaining to their arrival were related to raising questions about how they would integrate into society and fears about their inability to cope with the cultural shock that they may undergo upon their arrival into the country (McKay, Thomas and Kneebone, 2012). Many Australians whose views were taken during the course of this research also expressed their concerns that the asylum seekers did not use the ‘right way’ to enter their country which points to the understanding that many residents believe that the motivations for entering into a specific country based on the grounds of asylum are not justified or somehow invalidates their right to be in the country.

The research of Louis et al. (2007) explored the fundamental reasons why citizens and the general public hold a negative view against asylum seekers – the primary problems that have emerged from the entry of millions of documented and undocumented workers are associated with how they will cope with and accept the cultural norms that are so different and varied from their own (55). The study also highlighted the portrayal of a negative attitude by citizens in situations when they were expected to interact with asylum seekers.

As noted previously, the number of applications for people seeking asylum in Europe rapidly increased in 2015 due to the state of the civil war in Syria which escalated tensions in the Middle East and saw the rapid rise of the Islamic State across the country and some parts of Iraq (Leithhold, 2015). While the governments of EU states were positive at first with the arrival of the migrants, it was soon observed that the crisis grew greater than expected. For instance, identifying amongst migrant applications that held credibility and that lacked any validation or genuine reason for seeking asylum emerged as a challenge. When it was realised that the huge migrant influx was close to becoming a major human rights and social issue, Leithhold (2015) notes that many countries began to develop and impose legislations to explore a way of more effectively dealing with the situation. However, at that point, the crisis had already reached a major breaking point with reported illegal activity at migrant camps, acts of sexual assaults reported by migrants in Cologne and even stabbings reported in parts of Europe that were ultimately traced back to migrant men that had posed as children to enter the EU states.

European Migrant Crisis Asylum
European Migrant Crisis Asylum

According to a report presented by BBC (2016), gangs of men were seen assaulting women and engaging in illegal activities including robbery during a New Year’s celebration in Cologne, Germany. Around 100 women reported becoming victims of these crimes and were subjected to groping and touching. As the media picked on this story, reports emerged that many of these men who were claimed to be of Syrian descent stated that it was the women’s provocative clothing and mannerisms which encouraged them to engage in such activities and that they were ‘asking for it’. Rasmussen et al. (2016) write that the fact that these attacks took place in Europe and the emotional and physical ordeal that the women had to go through because of them represent the level of integration that refugees and especially men have been able to depict.

Western society prides itself on promoting equal rights for women and an individual’s sense of dressing should never be viewed as an excuse for sexual assault and even rape because it defies the principles of consent. Therefore, the fact that these attacks took place in such a progressive society raised questions about the ethics of asylum and whether nations should be obliged or expected to offer refugees a place if their lack of ability to integrate within society causes issues and grave problems for the community that resides there.

However, the sensationalization of such news in the Western media and wrong implications of criminal activity that were pinned upon migrant men developed a mindset of fear and allegations where a narrative of viewing asylum seekers as evil or the ‘other’ ones emerged. It should be noted that these stories were not essentially true to the greatest extent, some were fabricated and some cases were never even reported. However, the situation escalated to the extent that right-wing organisations were able to capitalise on this negative public sentiment and actively denounce the entry of asylum seekers often going to lengths were acts of racism were recorded in camps that were housing such individuals. The media must play a responsible role in promoting the integration of migrants rather than singling them out and promoting the ‘us versus them’ rhetoric which is harmful to enhance their extent of cohesion within society. These initiatives can only lessen the tensions between the two sides and enable the start of productive dialogue to better understand the views of the other party and respectfully agree or disagree with them (Cabot, 2014).

European Migrant Crisis

This understanding and course of events lead to the fundamental point of who is ultimately allowed and has a right to live in this ‘new’ Europe? Given the political situation that has erupted in the countries of asylum seekers sparked by terrorist activity that has its roots in extremist ideologies – does Europe have a moral obligation to offer a place of safety and security to migrant families? Children, women and the elderly that have been driven out of their homes due to the ravages of war and those who have nothing to do with how the events have in their own countries. At this stage, the ethical dimension of asylum emerges and takes a new shape because it is ultimately a moral perspective which encourages humans to understand the value of human life and recognise its worth. Who decides whether the asylum seekers are granted a place to live in Europe, the narrative promoted in AuslanderRaus definitely offers a greater insight into this notion and explains how the anti-refugee ideology of rightist fundamentalists is no different from any other ideology that promotes extremist views (Volf, 2010).

As suggested in the research of Leithhold, EU states only began to pass legislations pertaining to asylum seekers and refugees once the crisis had already become grave, therefore, a proper policy or legislation was not documenting their entry when the civil war in Syria first broke out and when the unrest in the Middle East was at its peak. Hansen has stated that protecting the rights of refugees and ultimately those who wish to seek asylum in a country must be documented legally to ensure that the rights of all individuals are protected and that they are able to live freely in a new country without the threat of deportation or violence.

From the aforementioned perspective, the question of who gets to live in Europe can be answered by addressing the legal dimension of the topic – if the satirical nature of political asylum is to be compared with this statement as it has been projected in Auslander Raus it would be intriguing to note that the documentary simply shows the life of a few refugees housed in a Big Brother however, it does not show how they got to Austria, the land that offered them asylum. This is distinctly what can be understood from the premise of the documentary – the key issue with an individual’s refugee status emerges if their arrival in the country is undocumented or not supported by their legal right to enter the country. With respect to this point, Hansen raises the notion that German laws on asylum have been generous rather than practical. This drawback with the country’s policy has what led to the issues that communities face with the influx of migrants which may suggest that how refugees are selected to enter the country and on what basis they are granted permission is an issue rather than the asylum itself.

Asylum From A Legal and Political Perspective

In their research Hanewald et al. (2016) raised a critical point when discussing asylum from a legal and political perspective by stating that the implementation of any laws pertaining to the entry of migrants simply does not relate to their situation but is subjected to the mental and physical health of the refugee as well (166). In a healthcare system which may continue to become burdened if corrective measures are not taken on an immediate basis, it would be unfair for the citizens of a country to bear the additional burden of taking care of individuals who have been left with mental and physical health issues because of the situation in their country. Thus, the simple need to enter a country as a refugee does not offer a proper justification to act as a premise for them to be granted refugee status.

Caviedes (2016) states that with respect to the monitoring of refugees and individuals that are granted migrant status, there is a need to implement effective structures to ensure that their arrival is based on concrete reason on the basis of which they have been granted asylum. The ability to integrate and accept the cultural norms and values is a fundamental point in this case because it decides the extent to which the individual will prove to be a valuable and productive member of society rather than becoming a burden on tax payer’s hard earned money.

Migration governance as a comprehensive model and structure is a critical point of consideration in this case because it addresses and assesses individuals on the basis of the factors which determine their level of integration and also judges their potential to become long term residents. Caviedes recommends that measures such as requiring migrants to take language, culture and civics classes to better enlighten them and offer them tools to successfully integrate within society (559). Moreover, another factor that could better assist the selection of migrants once they apply for asylum is determining whether they already have family members residing in the country they wish to enter. Caviedes states that such cases are more preferable in comparison with situations where the individual has no roots tying the country to them because it offers them a platform to understand the society that they are about to enter (560).

Trauner (2016) notes that what the world is witnessing today in Europe with respect to the migrant and refugee crisis is reflective of policy failures on the part of the nation’s governments. Not only have these policies overburdened neighbouring states wherein migrant numbers are too high but they have also led to the building up of financial constraints on economies that are struggling to provide these new entrants with a living in the society and create jobs against the backdrop of a struggling global economy.

Refugees

As depicted in Auslander Raus, the uncertainty of immigration and refugees only becomes more complex when there is no trace of where they came from and no trace of their background and history (Watts 165). The shady details of their past only create more distrust amongst the community where they are forced to grow more hateful and distrustful of what they view as aliens in their own community. However, a more documented approach wherein a method is devised to check the background of these individuals can also fulfil the moral and ethical obligations of giving them a new start at life while ensuring that the security and well-being of nation’s citizens are not compromised at the same time.

As the refugee crisis was triggered in Europe in 2015, EU member states have been left in utter disbelief with the problems that have followed the state of emergency. While the entry of immigrants into the countries of Europe have also incited a wave of extremist parties belonging to the right calling for their complete ban, from an ethical and moral standpoint this initiative and action are simply not justified. When homes continue to burn in Syria and the bodies of innocent children lie on the streets of Aleppo, the world cannot afford to watch in silence and let these innocent beings suffer because of something that is not their fault. Therefore, calling for a complete ban on refugees is out of the question. This raises the ultimate question of ‘who has the right to live in the ‘new’ Europe?’ and the answer to this as extensively discussed in this essay is that the right to live in Europe is possessed by its citizens and also refugees that have a documented status and the legal right to enter these states.

The legal right to enter these countries must be determined by the government and the concerned authorities that should weigh on various factors which will determine the extent to which candidates can successfully integrate within a society, for instance, assess their education, occupation and family background can offer a better insight into who they are and the potential that they have to become productive members of society. As shown in Auslander Raus, no one has the right to govern the lives of refugees and the general public cannot act as the ‘Big Brother’ in their attempt to scrutinise how they choose to lead their life and what they choose to do. Any measures to impose constant surveillance on migrant settlements and camps will only increase the sense of mistrust that they experience and will promote further hostility and animosity. For successful integration, it is imperative to accept the reality of asylum and accept that the current state of the world has led a scenario where this issue is something that cannot be ignored. Therefore, migration governance, asylum legislation and policy development are key areas to address when coping with the current scenario which is emerging across the globe.

Works Cited

Cabot, Heath. On the doorstep of Europe: asylum and citizenship in Greece. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.

Caviedes, Alexander. “European Integration and the Governance of Migration.” Journal of Contemporary European Research 12.1 (2016): 552-565.

Fassin, Didier. “The precarious truth of asylum.” Public Culture 25.1 69 (2013): 39-63.

Hanewald, Bernd, et al. “[Asylum Law and Mental Health: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Coaction of Medical and Legal Aspects].” Psychiatrische Praxis 43.3 (2016): 165-171.

Hansen, Randall. “Citizenship and integration in Europe.” Toward assimilation and citizenship: Immigrants in liberal nation-states. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2014. 87-109.

Haslam, N. I. C. K., and A. N. N. E. Pedersen. “Attitudes towards asylum seekers: the psychology of exclusion.” Yearning to breathe free: Seeking asylum in Australia (2007): 208-218.

Louis, Winnifred R., et al. “Why do citizens want to keep refugees out? Threats, fairness and hostile norms in the treatment of asylum seekers.” European Journal of Social Psychology 37.1 (2007): 53-73.Leithold, D. (2015). Asylum in Europe. DICE Report13(4), 55.

McKay, Fiona H., Samantha L. Thomas, and Susan Kneebone. “‘It would be okay if they came through the proper channels’: Community perceptions and attitudes toward asylum seekers in Australia.” Journal of Refugee Studies 25.1 (2012): 113-133.

Price, Matthew E. Rethinking Asylum: History, Purpose, and Limits. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Print.

Rasmussen, Mary Lou, et al. “Sexuality, Gender, Citizenship and Social Justice: Education’s Queer Relations.” The Palgrave International Handbook of Education for Citizenship and Social Justice. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2016. 73-96.

Schlingensief, Christoph. Foreigners Out!: Schlingensief’s Container, Chronicle of an Art Event. , n.d.

Trauner, Florian. “Asylum policy: the EU’s ‘crises’ and the looming policy regime failure.” Journal of European Integration 38.3 (2016): 311-325.

Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion & embrace: A theological exploration of identity, otherness, and reconciliation. Abingdon Press, 2010.

Watts, Meredith W. “Political Ideology in Germany.” Democracy, Socialization and Conflicting Loyalties in East and West: Cross-National and Comparative Perspectives (2016): 165.

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Social Structure

Social Structure

Social structures are seen all forms of social interactions. These social interactions are the ones responsible for shaping social reality. Social structure can be broken down into five elements. These elements include social roles, statuses, groups, social institutions and social networks (Lamm & Schaefer, 1998). These elements form the foundation of social structure. According to social sciences, social structure can be defined as a social arrangement where actions of an individual person both and emerge and determine them (Schaefer, 2012). Social structure is more about macrosociology since the society is considered as an institution rather than individual entities. However, some sociologists have come up with several scales of a social structure such as macro scale which features social structure or a large social group. The meso scale is concerned with social network structure. This scale examines the ties between organizations or groups. The micro scale is concerned with how norms define the behaviors observed on individuals in a given social system (Lamm & Schaefer, 1998).

Social Structure Discussion

When one talks about status, many people usually think it has to do with influence, fame or wealth. However, talking about status in terms of sociology refers to a wide range of positions that are socially defined in a given society from the highest to the lowest. For instance, in a society like ours, someone can have the status of a teenager, doctor or even the president. It is also possible for someone to have two or more statuses at the same time since one can be a doctor as well as a neighbor and a resident of New York. There are also two types of statuses, achieved and ascribed. An ascribed status is a status that one is given by a society without considering the person’s talents or achievements. The assignment is usually done after birth (Schaefer, 2012). Many conflict theorists are concerned with ascribed statuses.  In my society, my ascribed statuses include being a daughter, female, sister, and 27 years old among others. On the other hand achieved statuses are the ones one get after achieving something in a society. My achieved statutes include being a student, friend, classmate, teammate, and roommate.

In many cases, there is little one can do in order to change their ascribed statuses. However, one gets achieved statutes through one’s efforts. Being a computer expert is through one’s effort. In order for one to acquire an achieved status, one must work for it. As demonstrated earlier, one can have many statuses, but there is always a master status in one’s social life in a given society. A master status has many and conflicting statuses. The master status can elevate or lower someone’s status in the society. A master status dominates all others and is the one that is responsible for shaping someone’s position in the society (Luckmann & Berger 2011). In my case, my current master status is being a student. In my society, everybody knows that I am a student and everybody identifies me with schooling. Therefore, I can conclude that my master status is being a student.

Social Structure

Some roles associated with the statutes mentioned above include the fact that as a daughter I have to be answerable to may parents and elders in the society. As a student I have to attend and work hard in school. I also have to act as female is expected while at the same time ensuring that I am the best sister to my siblings. There are times when all or some of these roles come into direct conflict with each other. For instance, there was a time I was studying for a very important exam and my younger sister wanted me to take her to the park at the same time. The statuses of being a student and being a sister were in direct conflict and I had to make a tough decision whether to be a good student or be a good sister (Ebaugh, 1988). The final decision was to refuse my sister’s request.

I belong to several groups in our society’s social structure. My primary group is our study group at school which has six members. We meet everyday and share ideas. Most of the meetings are study oriented although we also talk about other things in general. My secondary group is our community’s welfare group. This group has more than 50 members and we usually meet once or twice per month. Most of the issues that we discuss are how we can improve our community.

My study group holds great value to attendance and respect among the members. The members of the group are supposed to be polite and should treat each other with respect. Looking down upon another member is frowned upon. The idea behind the group is not only to help each other academically, but also help each other socially. The community welfare group (social structure) is meant to create awareness among the members about problems that affects communities. Attendance is not mandatory although there are values and norms that one is expected to portray. They include respect among the members and respect for authority.

Status, mass media, roles and groups have played a big role in shaping my self-identity, behaviors and values. The statutes have helped me identify myself. These statutes play a big role in the way I behave and the way I present myself to the public. There are certain values that are expected of me in the society and I have to uphold them. The same goes for social media and social structures in general. Mass media has also played a big role in my life. Social networking has eased the way I communicate and exchange ideas with members of my groups. It has also eased the ways in which I can express myself.

Conclusion

Statutes and groups not only serve elements of a given social structure such as roles, they also play part in linking an individual to the larger society. Each and every person belongs to a particular unique group. The social network makes it possible for people from different groups to interact and form larger relationships. This is why social networks are considered as one of the key elements of the social structure alongside other like statutes.

References

Ebaugh, H (1988) Becoming an ex: The process of role exit. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, Ltd.

Lamm, R. & Schaefer, R (1998) Sociology: Instructor’s manual. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Luckmann, T. & Berger, P (2011) The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Boston, MA: Open Road Media.

Schaefer, R (2012) Sociology: A brief introduction. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

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Nationalism North Korea

How Nationalism Impacts North Korea Politically

There are many nations in the world that have warring political parties, or nationalistic ideas that help shape the political system of the country, but North Korea is not like that. Instead the political system uses nationalism to help shape the views of the people in the country on what it is and what it should be like. In an interesting turn of events, the political system in North Korea is the cause of nationalism, and not the other way around, but it is this system that keeps North Korea in the favor of the people in the nation. This isn’t necessarily widespread love and acceptance, as many people in North Korea do not enjoy living in the country, but it does help solidify the fact that North Korea has a long standing political system that will not change, and people must find some way to express their love and acceptance of the nation whether they agree with it or not. The promotion of nationalism through the political system of North Korea has shaped the nation in a number of ways. It has led to a unique military system, eternal leaders, and a form of expression that constantly pushes the views and philosophies of the Korean people in a unique way.

The concept of North Korean nationalism is known as Juche or the Juche Idea. This idea promotes three key factors. These factors are Independence in politics, self-sustenance in the economy, and self-defense in national defense. It is this idea that promotes North Korea and it promotes nationalism in the country. There are no fighting parties in North Korea, there is simply one party, and it is that party that promotes absolute control over the nation. Through the implementation of its Juche Idea and propaganda, the political system of North Korea remains relatively unchanged, and it has a strong impact on the people around it.  Using the Juche Idea, North Korea remains under communist rule, and it has held onto that political system since its original institution. It was their initial resistance and freedom from Japan that led to the doctrine and political viewpoint of North Korea. It was and still is run by a small group of people that fought in the Japanese resistance. By the time the 1960s came around the Juche ideal had come into play, and it led to the people of North Korea being constantly fed the idea of self-sustainment. This idea help promoted the North Korea political structure today, and more importantly the nationalism that exists in the country today. Through the use of these ideals, and the forceful manner of the political structure of the government, a manner that promotes self-sustainment and patriotism, the political system is not so much structured by nationalism, but it has been allowed to remain intact due to the strong sense of nationalism by the people. Being as it that nationalism is something that is promoted constantly by the government it is clear that the end goal of the group is that being self-sufficient is the best way to be successful.

North Korea constantly uses sources of propaganda and other forms to promote the Juche idea presented by the government so long ago. Because of the fact that it is run solely by the government, there are no competing groups. Being a country founded by socialism and communism, there is no opportunity for there to be competing groups. If a group were to compete against the government, it would be fighting against the rules of the government and in turn it would soon be destroyed. Nationalism is used for one main purpose, and that is to keep the people of North Korea knowing and believing that the policies of the country are not only effective, but they are what’s best for the nation. It is this belief that propels North Korea to work in the manner that it does without any opposition from its people. In fact, all expressive aspects of the North Korea have some sort of Juche touch to it that helps promote the nationalistic views of the nation. North Korea, dominated by the communism and socialism, uses its arts and literature to help legitimate the thoughts of Juche and what the government believes. The artistic activities in the country are based on the Juche Thought of socialism.

There are many reasons as to why North Korea continues to push nationalism in the country. The nation has followed suit with communism and socialism despite it failing in many nations in the late 1900s. It is this nationalism that preserves the support of the people of the nation. This nationalistic view also allows North Korea to preserve its unique political system. The political system of this country focuses on centralization. Although the people of North Korea do have their basic human rights, it comes at a cost. When it comes to freedom of expression, the people do not have the ability to express themselves openly. In fact, people are watched very closely by the government. The Worker’s Part of Korea is the one and only political party that is legally allowed to exist, in essence there isn’t really a political party just one political system that cannot be argued against or contested by the people of North Korea.

Nationalism North Korea
Nationalism North Korea

This party has been in place since North Korea first existed in 1948. It is this concept of nationalism that has kept Korea from failing despite its many negative aspects. More importantly is the fall of the nation’s economy and the subsequent famine that occurred after the cold war. From 1994 to 1998 there was a severe food shortage, and several people died and experienced malnutrition. North Korea was heavily reliant at the time on Soviet Union aid, but when it collapsed, the North Korean economy collapsed as well. Without the fast response of the government, the North Korean economy continued to drop. Men, women, and children were facing malnutrition. Even the military, who received the military first treatment, were unable to get any rations, and if they did it was of the very basic amount. This lead to one of the most severe famines in the world, which concluded with an estimated three million people dying from starvation, but despite this famine the North Korean nation, still remained strong, and there was no talk or dispute of whether or not the nation would undergo any change. There was still strong nationalism in North Korea that helped hold up the nation and people’s view of the nation even during this time when there was constant starvation amongst the people of the country. Even today, after receiving constant aid from other nations, North Korea still stands at the precipice of widespread famine, and people still have trouble getting food.

The way that nationalism is strengthened in North Korea is through propaganda. People are constantly being shown pictures and videos that demonstrate what the leaders of the nation are doing or how they feel about the country or how they plan on helping out others. During the food shortage mentioned earlier, there were pictures of Kim Jong-il choosing to eat the same meals as other people in North Korea. In fact, the entire famine was called a food shortage that was due to bad weather and a failure for people to implement the teachings of Kim, but still stated that the situation was better than being outside of the nation. There were even attempts to urge people to eat things that were non-nutritious and harmful to the body. Everything about the North Korean culture has some sort of propaganda aspect to it. The art features militaristic themes usually, and it helps promote the military first ideals of the country. Music involves songs being dedicated to the leaders of the nation. Korean films have the central theme of showing how good Korean life is, and how bad western life tends to be.

Nationalism is a strong driving force in North Korea. It serves as a way for people to keep their faith in the nation, no matter what situation may occur. It did not just lead to the institution of the current political system, but it also has kept that political system alive, even in recent years as the nation experiences issues in malnutrition and economic problems. North Korea has received a lot of bad publicity and press within other nations, which include South Korea and the United States, but the propaganda and growth of North Korea in terms of nationalism and pushing its Juche ideas have continued to rise. Even now, the country has created social network accounts and media in order to reach out to more people and promote the belief and ideals of North Korea for its people. It is these accounts that promote the state of North Korea whether it is doing well or doing poorly, and it helps keep the political system alive, by force feeding the people in the country specific view and ideals.

Bibliography

Yim, Haksoon. “Cultural identity and cultural policy in South Korea.” International journal of cultural policy 8.1 (2002): 37-48.

Frank, Ruediger. “Economic reforms in North Korea (1998–2004): Systemic restrictions, quantitative analysis, ideological background.” Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy 10.3 (2005): 278-311.

Lee, Sook-Jong. “The rise of Korean Youth as a Political force.” Bookings Northeast Asia Survey 2003-2004 (2004).

Harvey, Robert. “Global disorder.” African Security Review 14 (2005): 1.

Buzo, Adrian. The Guerilla Dynasty: Politics and Leadership in North Korea. IB Tauris, 1999.

Simone, Vera, and Anne Thompson Feraru. The Asian Pacific. Longman, 1995.

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Population Ageing

Population Ageing

Population ageing is an issue of global importance; it has the potential to pose serious challenges to a nation’s infrastructure, economy and health sector. The world today is witnessing an increase in the proportions of the population of older people. This increase has the potential if not checked to pose challenges to nation’s well-being. It is well known that old age is accompanied by several physical disabilities, illnesses and senility, it therefore goes to follow that there is a strong impact of increasing population age on both the labour force and health care sector.  In the paper, impacts of increasing population ageing were discussed with particular emphasis placed on how the trend is currently affecting India. The paper also takes a look at the key challenges population ageing pose to the economy and health care sector of India.

Population ageing is an issue of global importance; it has the potential to pose serious challenges to a nation’s infrastructure and health sector. Knodel (1999) describes populations ageing as a shift in the age distribution of a country’s population whereby the share of citizens with old age increase in population and those of younger age suffer a decline relative to the nation’s population. Population aging of population form an important part of the demographic transition process for any country. Generally, the definition of the aged population can be construed to refer to citizens who are age 60 years and above in a country’s population. Some researches on ageing have suggested that the role of fertility is greater than that of mortality in the population ageing process (Irudaya Rajan, 2010; 2007; 1999).

Population Ageing
Population Ageing

Source: (www.study-aids.co.uk, 2015)

In the twentieth century an occurrence of high fertility and low mortality rates led countries to put forth policies that were aimed at controlling the resulting population boom. These policies resulted in the increase of elderly citizens due to controlled birth rates and therefore fewer young citizens. This decline in fertility, still experienced today, would lead to an increase in the elderly population in the future. Equally this demographic shift has led to strong socio-economic changes as there is a great distance between young and old generations and a corresponding distinction in their experiences. Although the increasing population age is as a result of demographic transition process, the dire changes in cultural and socio-economic conditions are resultant of corresponding change in nations’ traditional systems due to urbanization and migration.

This paper will try to highlight some of the challenges that are posed by increasing population ageing. Particular focus will be paid to India and areas of discussion will centre on the economic and health care sectors of the country.

Global Population Ageing

Old age is not easy to analyse or define as it a function of relative social and physical interpretation. However, one uniform fact is that elderly citizens have multiple needs and these needs need to be supported, cared and catered for in any socio-economic setting.

In a report published by the World Health Organisation, developed counties have citizens with higher age profile (i.e. they generally have older citizens) while less developed nations have more number of old people. The report further indicated a rapid growth of older citizens in the less developed nation, predicting a 250 percent increase between the years 2010 and 2050 as compared to a smaller 71 percent increase in the more developed nations (World Health Organisation, 2011). Globally, the population growth of aged citizens is faster than that of any other age class. In developed countries a projected increase rate of 45 per cent in half a century thereby rising from 287 million to about 417 million by 2050 and 440 million by 2100 (Irudaya Rajan, 2007).  For less developed countries however a more rapid increase has been recorded with an increase rate of 3.7 percent annually from 2010 to 2015 and a projection of 2.9 percent annual increase before 2050 (Irudaya Rajan, 2007). Focus is placed more on the developing countries due to the vast numbers of aged citizens that are present in such countries. This demographic class seem to be increasing in population and deteriorating in living conditions. It has been suggested (Irudaya Rajan, 2007), that the reason for such large numbers of aged citizens lies in the extensive populations of these developing nations.

India and Population Ageing

The population of older people had been projected to rise dramatically in the next few decades. Reports indicate that while majority of the countries that will experience population ageing will be less developed nations, 50 percent of these countries will of the Asian continent (Irudaya Rajan, 2006).  India will likely be one of the most affected nations (Irudaya Rajan, Mishra and Sarma 1999). Reports as at 2008 showed that India had more elderly citizens than any other country in the world except from China; this figure was recorded as 90 million. Just 7 years prior (i.e. 2001), the population for older persons was recorded as 77 million indicating a 14 percent increase (Irudaya Rajan, 2010). Also, from 1961 to 1991, a total of 5.6 per cent increase was recorded for elderly population in the country and 7.1 percent increase from 1991 to 2001 (Irudaya Rajan, 2010). A United Nations report states that population share of Indian citizens of ages 60 and above will rise from 8 percent in 2010 to 19 percent 1n 2050 (United Nations Population Division, 2011). This remarkable shift in the population share of the older citizen would bring with it a variety of serious challenges to the country that may be social, political, and economic as well as health- related (Population Reference Bureau, 2012).

Figure 1: shows population aging forecast from 2001 to 2050

2001 2011 2021 2031 2041 2051
60 and Above
Number (millions) 77 96 133 179 236 301
% of total pop. 7.5 8.2 9.9 11.9 14.5 17.3
Sex Ratio 1028 1034 1004 946 1008 1007
70 and Above
Number (millions) 29 36 51 73 98 132
% of total pop. 2.9 3.1 3.8 4.8 6 7.6
Sex Ratio 991 966 770 930 891 954
80 and Above
Number (millions) 8 9 11 16 23 32
% of total pop. 0.5 0.7 0.8 1 1.4 1.8
Sex Ratio 1051 884 866 843 774 732

Source: (Irudaya Rajan, 2006)

The table above (fig1) shows a steady increase in the population of citizen of 60 years and above across the decades.

In India, there is a higher population of males as compared to females, and this may be as a result of higher life expectancy for males at birth when compared to females recorded in 90s. Also there is the occurrence of excessive female mortality at infancy and adolescence (Irudaya Rajan, 2010). What is more remarkable is that although females in India generally experience mortality at tender age, thereby given them lower life expectancy at such ages, they generally have a higher life expectancy at older ages (Irudaya Rajan, 2010). This implies that they older they are, the older they live.

Implications of Population Ageing for Economy

In the coming years, India will experience increasing population age which will result in the reduction of working-age citizens to support the aged citizens of the country and consequently the old age dependency ratio. Old age dependency ratio is defined as the ratio between working age (15-59 years) population and the population of aged citizens (above 60 years of age). Index of ageing is the ratio between the population of aged citizens and that of younger population (0-14 years). Fig 1 below shows the current and forecasted values old age dependency ratio and index of ageing ratio in India from 2001 to 2051.

There is a marked increase for both old age dependency and index of ageing ratios. In 2001, old age dependency ratio in India was recorded to be approximately 11.9 and may rise as high as 29 by 2051.

According to Husain and Ghosh (2011), living conditions of aged Indian citizens is particularly poor despite the rapid economic growth observed in the country recently. There is a generally low income and little or no saving due to low earnings, majority of aged citizens are situated in the rural regions without access to banks (Population Reference Bureau, 2012).

In India there is a lack of universal social security which leads people to retire at old ages (Irudaya Rajan, 2005). Usually, senility and reduced efficiency sets in as from 70 years old cutting employment short. Sickness and disability- accompaniments of old age- are also major reasons of retrenchment. While in work service majority of Indian workplaces set aside portions of salary for their employees in the way of contribution which is then released at retirement. A bonus gratuity is also paid along with final salary upon retirement. Only few cases Less than (11 percent) see salary earning employees receive pensions in addition to their provident funds. This scenario described is a recipe for poverty. Generally people only retire when they are too old or too sick to work for either themselves or a hiring company, therefore they are dependent on provident funds set aside from their salaries while in service which in most cases is less than 30% of their salaries while they were working. In effect the standard of living of these citizens is greatly reduced and the cost of living increased due to added challenges like health care, welfare, family etc.

Implications of Population Ageing for Indian Health Care Sector

Health care is of key importance in a nation’s society. Healthy production citizens are a function of a good, effective health care system. The rising population of aged citizens in India will have profound effects on the health care sector. If more citizens are of older ages (i.e. 60 years and above), the health care services will have to modify their resources to accommodate this demographic shift (Chatterji et al., 2008). For instance, population aging in India has the potential, if not properly checked, to result in an increase of chronic disease and other health related issues (Chatterji et al., 2008). This means that health clinics will be face with more and more cases of chronic diseases thereby increasing cost of maintenance.

It is usually the case that old people are generally of worse health than younger ones, since old age is often accompanied by recurring and numerous physical ailments and illness (Irudaya Rajan, 2007). Senility and neurosis are also features of old age, these two ailments often lead poor mental health.  In India, there are reports of particularly serious and poor health cases amongst elderly citizens, especially in the rural areas. In their report, Nadal, Khatri & Kadian (1987) reported that majority of the aged populace were suffering from at least one of diseases like; poor eyesight, cough, whooping cough, bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis of lungs, dental problems or anaemia. Irudaya Rajan (2007) reported that as the age of older citizens increase there is an increase in the rate of sick and bed-ridden patients.  Darshan, Sharma & Singh (1987) named blindness and deafness as the major physical disability occurring in Indian old people.

References

Chatterji, S., Kowal, P., Mathers, C., Naidoo, N., Verdes, E., Smith, J.P. and Suzman, R (2008). The Health of Aging Populations in China and India. Health Aff (Millwood). 27(4), 1052–1063

Darshan, S., Sharma M.L. & Singh, S.P. (1987). Health Needs of Senior Citizens Population Ageing. In M.L. Sharma and T.M. Dak (Eds.) Aging in India. New Delhi: Ajanta Publications

Husain, Z. & Ghosh, S. (2011). Is Health Status of Elderly Worsening in India Population Ageing? A Comparison of Successive Rounds of National Sample Survey Data. Journal of Biosocial Science. 43(2), 211-31.

Irudaya Rajan, S. (2005). Chronic poverty among the Indian elderly. In A.K. Mehta & A. Shepherd (Eds.), Chronic poverty and development policy in India. New Delhi: Sage Publications).

Irudaya Rajan, S. (2006). Population Ageing and Health in India. Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT)

Irudaya Rajan, S. (2007). Aging, pensions and social security in South Asia. In S. Irudaya Rajan (Ed.), Social security for the elderly: Experiences from Population Ageing in South Asia. New Delhi: Routledge.

Irudaya Rajan, S. (2010). Demographics, population ageing and employment in India. ILO Asia-Pacific Working Paper Series

Irudaya Rajan, S., Mishra, U.S. & Sarma, P.S. (1999). India’s Elderly: Burden or Challenge? New Delhi: Sage Publications and London: Thousand Oaks.

Knodel, J. (1999). The Demography of Asian Ageing: Past Accomplishments and Future Challenges for Asia, Population Ageing Lies Almost Entirely Ahead. Asia-Pacific Population Journal.

Nandal, D.S., Khatri, R.S. & Kadian, R.S. (1987). Population Ageing Problems in the Structural Context. In M.L. Sharma & T.M. Dak (Eds.) Aging in India (Pp. 106-16). New Delhi: Ajanta Publications

Population Reference Bureau. (2012). India’s Population Ageing Problem. Today’s Research on Aging.  Program and Policy Implications

United Nations Population Division. (2011). World Population Ageing Prospects: The 2010 Revision. New York: United Nations

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International Relations Theory

International Relations Theory

The theories of international relations try to find out the key patterns of interaction between parties involved in international politics and provide a framework to explain the underlying structure and nature of these interactions (Nye, 2004). The theories generally state the manner in which international politics should be carried out and how the world should look like. According to Nye (2004) the theories have historically been viewed as unequal and competing with each individual theory providing its own alternative explanations to the nature of international relations. The historical evolution of the theories is that they try to critique the flaws of each other in providing an alternative explanation. The international relations field has evolved over time and has many theories which use different approaches, methodologies and explanations to explain interaction between nations (Nye, 2004). This paper tries to predict how states and other international actors would respond to an invention of reliable fusion energy technology which is cheap, abundant, safe, clean and carbon emission free by the scientists of one country’s government using neo-realism and neo-liberalism theories of international relations.

The availability of energy is critical to the running of every country. Many people therefore agree that the issue of energy security has been a very important for many countries since the energy crises that affected many countries in the 1970’s (Wenger, Robert & Jeronim, 2009). The oil consuming countries have experienced shortages in the past since they depend on oil imports from producing countries for supplies to meet their energy needs. The issue of energy security has therefore been very important in international relations debates. The energy debate has therefore been mostly shaped by the inequality between the oil producing and oil consuming countries. Oil supply has become a subject of both real and perceived susceptibility for different states (Wenger et.al. 2009). Different studies have been carried out in relations to the increased rate of energy consumption and increased dependency on energy imports by different countries. The studies have also focused on the contribution of competition for energy to different conflicts. The international relations theories can be directly applied in understanding the forms of collaboration, competition and conflicts relating to energy. This paper seeks to try and explain the underlying theoretical assumptions the neo-realism and the neo-liberalism theories provide for understanding what would happen if one country discovered a new and more efficient fusion energy technology.

Neo-Realism and Energy

Neo-realism is one of the general schools of thought within international relations and was put forward by Kenneth Waltz (Nye, 2004). The theory is a specific variant of realism. In the neo-realist theory waltz classified the actors in international relations into three levels. These levels include the individual, the state and the interstate system. According to this system the interstate system is the most important in international relations. According to this theory the interstate system comprises of states actors which compete with each other to fulfil their own self-interests (Nye, 2004).

The neo realist theory makes three important assumptions about the states and the characteristics of the international system in which they belong. First the interstate system is anarchical in nature with each state being sovereign from each other and therefore chaos is expected since no state can control the others. According to Walt (1998) “the international system consisted of great powers each seeking to survive and because the system is anarchic each state has to survive on its own”. In this system the survival of any state is not guaranteed and in order to survive each state is driven to accumulate power in order to provide for its own security. According to Wendt (1992) “Each country in this system acts in its own self interest in order to maximize its own survival and is therefore driven to accumulate as much power as possible”. Conflict may therefore arise as there is no supreme authority to prevent way between states due to a breakdown in international relations.

Another assumption of the neo-realist theory is that the functions of each state within the system are not differentiated. Each state is tasked with providing security for its citizens from external threat and ensuring there is law and order internally. The final assumption is that the distribution of resources between the similar countries determines the balance of power between these countries. This means that each country has its own resources and capabilities to counter the resources of another country. The status quo in the system is therefore that no one country can be able to dominate all the other countries and therefore each country tries to be better than the other rather than better than all of them put together.

The three assumptions about the nature of the international system lead to a number of hypothesis on how countries are likely to behave within the system. One of the most important hypotheses about the behaviour of states within such a system is that states are more likely to balance against the rising powers and growing threats rather than bandwagon with these states. The balance of power theory provides that each state is independent to choose whether to balance internally by allocating more resources to economic security and the military or to balance externally by forming alliances with states with similar interests and therefore similar enemies. The neo-realist theory is concerned more with power over morality, stability over justice and continuity over change.

International Relations Theory
International Relations Theory

Predicting what would happen if a new energy technology was invented using the neo-realist approach requires understanding how this new energy would affect the existing balance of power within the energy sector. There is a balance which exists internationally between the energy producing countries and the consumers. However this balance is threatened by the issue of energy security. After the oil shocks of the 1970’s the security of supply of oil became a matter of security concern for many developed countries. Security can be defined from an offensive or defensive point of view. According to the neo-realist security is from the defensive point of view due to the anarchy structure of the society. According to the neo-realist theory, states struggle to survive within an international system that does not have a worldwide authority to controls what happens. To maximize their chances of survival states therefore try to rise to power by accessing the required resources and therefore influence their relationship. Energy security is the only vulnerability point for many developed countries and therefore they sometime prefer to use an offensive strategy to secure the source.

According to the neo-realist theory security is not considered to be as a result of the direct threat but the political interpretation of the threat. The international relations theory considers anarchy as part of the international system which is why states are very concerned about security. In the international arena there are energy related interactions between states which involve an energy dependency between the states. In the international system the energy interaction involves export, import and transit of energy resources. Energy security between states   can be measured using the strength of dependence which is determined by factors such as possibility of diversification, level of domestic resources and the energy trade balance. The dependence of a state on energy from another state is perceived as a threat. A good example is the European countries which depend on Russia for their gas supply. Russia uses manipulation of gas supply and prices as a tool for political influence. Many countries therefore realise that there can be no energy security if one of the energy supplying nations is willing and able to use energy resources as a weapon of influence.

From the above analysis and using the neo-realist theory the states and other international actors would respond in different ways to an invention by one government scientist of a new reliable energy solution. The first way in which the state actors would respond to the invention is through cooperation. The state and international actors with similar interest would form an alliance to protect their own interests. As the States and international actors which currently supply energy would try to maximize their chances of survival in the new order they would form alliances to counter the new country which is rising due to supplying alternative source of energy.

The Neo-realist theory also suggests that the new technology would provide, power, influence status, security, respectability and prestige on both the regional and international stage. The fact that one country owns the technology will increase the worries and fears of the neighbouring states. This would be construed as a threat to the states in the region which may spiral out of control in the form of a regional wide race for the new technology. The neo-realists argue that the states will try to balance internally by allocating more resources in this case to researching the new energy technology.

Neo-liberalism and international energy politics

New liberalism is another widely used theory to explain state behaviour in international relations. This theory emerged in the 1970’s and 1980’s (Baldwin,1993). The neo-liberalist theory was developed as a response to the neo-realist theory. The neo-liberalist accepted the neo-realist argument that states operate in a state of anarchy. However, the neo-liberalists argue that even in the anarchic international system made up of independent states, cooperation can be possible through building institutions, norms and regimes which will bring about positive results for everyone.

According to Peet (2003) “neo-liberals states are not supposed to attack each other but should consider each other as legal and non-threatening”. They believe that global economic ties and international organizations act to strengthen peace. The neo-liberalists believe that the rule of law and the strengthening of democracy make it easier for states to cooperate. The theory advocates that having economic interdependence helps countries meet their needs better than through war. The main tools of this theory are international institutions and free international trade which allows for free movement of goods, ideas and resources which allows people to find affordable resources and to maximize their profits. The neo-liberals also believe that the state should not control the market but let the market forces control the market. The European Union a regional institution has been a good example of how sovereign states can cooperate through economic and political interdependence making war unthinkable in the region (Pease 2012).

The neo-liberal approach can be used to explain what could happen in international energy politics if a new sustainable energy technology is developed. In order to understand what would happen if a more sustainable energy source was invented by one state from a neo-liberal perspective it is important to understand what the current situation is from a neoliberal explanation. Currently the energy market is a less liberalised and is mostly controlled by states and international actors. This allows many illiberal practices to take place in relation to international relations of the energy industry. Some of the notable illiberal practices in the energy sector are secret deals between international companies and oil producing countries which have led to underdevelopment, resource conflicts and support of authoritarian governments (Wenger et.al. 2009). A Neo-Liberal approach would aim at eliminating all the illiberal practices which occur in the market due to control by the state.

From a neo-liberal perspective state and other actors would respond in different ways to the invention of a new energy solution. First states would respond by promoting regional and worldwide energy organization and institutions. From the liberal perspective the development of a big organization with many members would allow members to cooperate and benefit from the new energy technology. A big energy organisation would ensure that the whole market is controlled by one organization which would make liberalising the market easier.

Another way that the state would respond is through greater liberalisation of the economy to eliminate the imperfections within the energy market. Allowing the market forces to determine who provides the energy solution would ensure that only the most economically efficient institution provide the energy solution eliminating the threat of war and conflicts often associated with other forms of energy. This is essential to promote healthy international relations.

Another possible response by state and international actors is international regulation which would deter illegal trade and practices which often lead to conflicts. A nice example of this is the international regulations of diamonds which were seen as the major cause of conflict in different parts of Africa. The regulations require the global diamond industry to commit them to an international process of diamond certification. A similar regulation would be made for the sector.

Another likely way the actors would respond is by promoting good governance in different states to eliminate the illegal practises such as rent seeking and distortions by the rent seeking states. The international actors are likely to demand for more transparency, fairness and accountability in order to ensure that price of the new technology is managed in a more efficient way. The states would respond by demanding more transparency to avoid secret deals which strengthen illiberal practices and undermine international relations. Openness would be one of the preconditions for the different state and international actors to cooperate.

Conclusion

International relations theories provide good models for explaining the nature of international relations in different sectors. The theories offer alternative explanations for the interactions. The neorealist theory view states as competing against each other. It can therefore be conclude that the states would respond in a way that best meets their own self interest. On the other hand the neo-liberal argue that the states will respond in such a way that the cooperation brings positive results for everyone.

References

Barkin J. Samuel, (2002) “Efficiency and ideas,” in international relations: The Key Concepts. New York: Routledge.

Baldwin, David A. 1993. Neo-realism and Neo-liberalism: The Contemporary Debate, New York: Columbia University Press.

Nye, Joseph S. 2004. Soft Power in International Relations: the means to success in world politics. New York: Public Affairs

Peet, Richard. (2003) “Neoliberalism and Nature: The Case of the WTO”. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol 590 p188–211.

Pease, Kelly-Kate, (2012) “Critical Theories and Approaches,” in International Relations and Organizations: Perspectives on Governance in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Longman.

Walt, Stephen M., (1998), “International Relations: One world, Many theories,” Foreign policy Vol 110 p29-46.

Wendt, Alexander. 1992. ‘Anarchy is what states makes of it: the social construction of power’, International Relations Organization, vol 41 (3) p50-57.

Wenger, Andreas; Robert W. Orttung, Jeronim Perovic. (2009). Energy and the Transformation of International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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