December , 2020
The year 2020 needs to be forgotten
12:02 pm

Buroshiva Dasgupta

The year 2020 has been a terrible year. The pandemic has kept most people house-bound for over nine months. The virus attack in India has reached a million this December and killed almost 1.50 lakh people. India has gone through many disasters like floods, famines, droughts, super cyclones, terrorist attacks -but never has a disaster stretched the misery for so long or killed so many people.

While the year is nearing to an end, everyone is praying for a relief from this misery and looking for a vaccine that can at least reduce the infection rate of Covid-19. Everyone has tried hard to boost their immunities in different ways – both scientific and non-scientific – but these have fallen short of preventing the spread of the virus. At least three groups are promising vaccines to be available shortly – one of them has vaccinated a 90-year-old lady in the UK just the other day. We are awaiting the results. The distribution and the price will be a problem in India. Still we are hopeful. We want an end to this pandemic.

This year, because of the pandemic, we saw the destruction of several industries like travel and tourism, manufacturing, film industry, and the MSMEs. Millions lost their jobs and most of the wage earners who could save their jobs, had to face a cut in the salaries. Some industries like pharmaceuticals and insurance did reasonably well. The overall growth, in terms of GDP, witnessed a sharp fall over 20%. However, the economic institutions are forecasting a recovery as they see ‘green shoots’ in the some of the industries again. But the rate of recovery is very slow.

The deadly pandemic did also give us some ‘gifts’. It taught us to work from home. The IT industry survived through WFH. In education, though the schools colleges and universities are still closed, the online mode forced us to overcome our tech ‘fears’. Observers say that people learnt to use technology in one month what in usual times would have taken a couple years to familiarise. Even when the educational institutions will open for normal classes, observers are sure that online education through zoom, Google meet and classrooms has come to stay and that there will be a ‘blended form’ of education in the future. In a way, it is big reforms in the education sector and will usher in the new education policy faster.

 The governments also revealed their humane side during these pandemic announcing free rations. The states and centre competed with themselves to reveal how magnanimous they were in distributing rations. Sure enough, when at the initial stage of the pandemic some feared starvation; it really did not happen thanks to the bold gesture of the governments. The governments could take this step because the granaries were full again thanks to the good monsoon and of course the farmers. But what do we see now?  The farmers are up in arms against the government! India, after the Green Revolution is self sufficient in food. The three new farm bills (now acts) were supposed to bring in another revolution in agriculture. The farmers of Punjab and Haryana who were the greatest beneficiaries of the Green Revolution now want these farm laws repealed. The government is rigid and the farmers are determined, too. The politics behind agriculture in India has been vicious all along. The leaders of the green revolution were condemned even though it saved India’s food crisis.  Through the present laws, the opposition says, the government is privatising distribution. The government feels this gives more freedom to the farmers to sell their products. The critics do not agree.

We do not know when this pandemic will end. Food is an important ingredient in our fight against this disaster. We only hope the government and the farmers will come to a settlement soon and we look forward to a better 2021.

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