2022: What’s in store for India
India turns 75 this year. While there is much to rejoice, the nation faces a raft of challenges. But many of these achievements may be sullied if India fails to hold on to its greatest heritage: A vibrant, multicultural society governed by the Constitution’s promise of dignity and respect
As India steps cautiously into the New Year, it will hope to exorcise the ghosts of the brutal second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, and the associated damage to public health and the national economy. Cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 are rising, but initial trends indicate that many patients are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. With restrictions imposed across the country, it doesn’t seem too outlandish to hope that the country escapes the worst of the Delta wave, and the crushing loss of human lives.
2022 is the year independent India turns 75. It is a watershed moment for a country that few gave any chance of survival at her birth, marred by Partition and sectarian violence. But the year also brings forth a raft of challenges for the country. Primary among them are five: Focusing on public health by speeding up and expanding access to vaccines and boosters and bolstering rural infrastructure, bringing students back to the classrooms and plugging the learning gaps, boosting the economic recovery, safeguarding the environment, and repairing the social fabric shredded by communal rhetoric and caste cleavages. India missed its target of vaccinating all its citizens by the end of the year, but nearly two-thirds of the country is fully inoculated and around 90% have received at least one shot. Administrators will hope to build on the success of the drive. At the same time, the silent pandemic ravaging the education sector cannot be forgotten. Many children haven’t sat down in a classroom for two years and plummeting learning outcomes — alongside associated mental health, nutrition and general temperament problems — will have to be urgently reversed in 2022. Economic recovery will be key in achieving many of these goals, and in ensuring that people rendered unemployed during the pandemic, especially in the informal sector, are part of the India growth story. The development journey must be in sync with conserving the environment.
But many of these achievements may be sullied if India fails to hold on to its greatest heritage: A vibrant, multicultural society governed by the Constitution’s promise of dignity and respect. Lawmakers must crack down on communally charged speeches that call for violence, acts of craven caste bias that belie constitutional rights and any motivation to restrict the rights of marginalised genders and sexualities, castes and faiths, abilities and communities. Here’s hoping India has a safe, peaceful and prosperous 2022.
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