Year 2021 has arrived and along with that new hope has emerged. Availability of vaccines for Covid is a good news but at present only date and year have changed with the challenges of past year still persisting. So, it is too early to celebrate our victory over the pandemic and till the vaccines are administered we need to be cautious as we were in 2020. In 2021 too, most of our efforts will be focused on countering Covid but unlike 2020 this year we may be going through receding threat of the pandemic (with that lessening human pain} and mounting hopes.
Once we overcome the danger we will be put up with many new challenges on different fronts. The main challenge before the government will be that of containing inflation which may go hyper if not tackled at the earliest. Inflation will hit the common man the most and therefore its containment must be the government’s priority. Inflation will make the life of poor man miserable as both food and shelter will become costlier and therefore fighting inflation should be one of the priorities of the government.
Our focus on climate change and fight against it were temporarily diverted due to pandemic outbreak but that should not give us an excuse to postpone our commitment under Paris Agreement. But serendipitously the Covid-19 has given us clues as to how to tackle the problem of pollution as showed by the lockdowns when environment condition had improved tremendously. Though it may be impractical to implement on long term basis the pandemic and lockdown have shown our weak points. In another interesting development USA, under new President, has promised to re-join Paris Agreement which may give much needed boost to our fight against climate change.
Our urban development programmes are mainly project focused with an exception being the smart city mission which is an area focused development programme. Even the goals of smart city programmes may have to be redrafted in the light of latest developments. The outbreak of Covid-19 also has created a new demand for command and control centres in various smart cities. The mission has to include our learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic, its spread and our fight against it. Further, the pandemic has given rise new concept called ‘Work from Home’ which if continued even after the containment of the virus, may have far reaching impact on our mobility related plans. Also, there is greater need for public participation in fixing priorities and decision making in major urban development programmes.
The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of and problems faced by the migrant workers. We need to give up the ‘taken for granted’ attitude towards the migrant workers as they are the backbone of many economic activities as was revealed during the post lockdown period. Their basic needs have to be taken care of along with their social security requirements. Their contribution to economic development is no less than others and therefore they also need to be treated at par with other workers.
Therefore, we need to consider, year 2021 as an opportunity to set right our past mistakes and move forward ensuring inclusive growth for all sections of the society.