The new year should usher in fresh optimism
Despite shocks, we also received some good news in 2022. India took over as the G20 president, and global financial institutions voiced optimism about the Indian economy’s performance this fiscal year
Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It is the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness,” says the Bible [John 2:9-11].
The above quotation is the perfect way to start this conversation since it was Christmas yesterday.
In these times, darkness, estrangement, and bigotry have come to define us. If you don’t believe it, see what was happening in the nation’s biggest panchayat, where our honourable parliamentarians were embroiled in the China debate. Even out of Parliament they are hell-bent on establishing each other as China’s ally. For generations, such practices kept us enslaved. So China must be happy now.
This year began with hatred. While we were still recovering from the devastation inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, Russia launched an attack on Ukraine. This war has resulted in a deadly arms race. China, like its friend Russia, locked horns with India and Taiwan. While Chinese President Xi Jinping cannot handle Covid-19 in his country, he has begun a land grab.
This year brought some fresh discords in a world full of contradictions. Many of our significant achievements were lost between the advent of Covid-19 and the end of 2022. Over 400 million people in India were lifted out of poverty. But Covid-19 interrupted the global supply chain, and crises began to loom over global markets. As a result, more people were forced back into poverty than those who rose above poverty. Worsening conditions in China and increased infections in several nations, including the United States, have heightened concerns about the pandemic’s comeback. This year will leave a legacy of fear and hunger through 2023.
It’s no surprise that economic disparity has gained new heights this year. The 10-month-long Russia-Ukraine conflict has escalated to the next level. These two countries account for about 30% of the world’s wheat supply and approximately 60% of edible oils. Further, Russia exports fuel and energy to Europe. As Moscow withdrew, the already shaky continent fell into a profound recession. As a result, there was a regime change in Italy, and two prime ministers in the United Kingdom lost their seats.
This year has also seen an outbreak of hostility in our country. The comments of Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a “TV discussion” on May 26 gave reactionaries in India and abroad a handle to beat us with. Islamic countries objected diplomatically, and tensions extended throughout the country’s 10 states. The murders of two people — one in Rajasthan and another in Maharashtra — forced us to ponder whether we are regressing to the Middle Ages. Social media also fuelled the fire.
The controversy surrounding Shah Rukh Khan’s film Pathaan is the most recent example of social media fostering hostility. This has previously occurred with several films, books, essays and writers.
We also lost many leading lights this year — Birju Maharaj, Lata Mangeshkar, Bappi Lahiri, Rahul Bajaj, Shiv Kumar Sharma, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Cyrus Mistry, Swaroopanand Saraswati, Raju Srivastava and Mulayam Singh Yadav among them. Such departures will leave a void for a very long time.
Despite these shocks, we also received some good news in 2022. India was elected as the G20 president, and global financial institutions voiced optimism about the Indian economy’s performance this fiscal year. This year, we could see a growth of 6.9%. When the rest of the world is teetering, India is marching forward. So you may feel free to congratulate the government.
Aside from the economy, there are some other exciting developments. It gives hope to see how rapidly we produced vaccines during the Covid-19 era. Similarly, in Artificial Intelligence, ideas such as ChatGPT, may be game changers in industries such as education and journalism.
It would be unfair if I did not mention Lionel Messi and the football World Cup football here. People like Messi spread love and brotherhood. Such heroes must be created in India as well. There is much more to say, but I have just called your attention to the most crucial developments. The coming year should usher in fresh optimism.
Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan The views expressed are personal