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Thinking beyond Covid

People are entering the new year with high hopes and many expectations. Such expectations may vary from individual to individual but there is expectation which is common among all of us is that the world will be able to get rid of the pandemic. Of course, Covid-19 is an obvious cause of pessimism and progress under vaccination, however, gives us a ray of hope. Only the calendar year 2021 has ended but the Covid story is still continuing.

For the third year running, the COVID-19 pandemic will loom over all other events. 2021 started with vaccine roll-outs and hope for a post-pandemic normal; the year ended with the Omicron variant shutting borders around the world once again.

Indeed, the pandemic has taught us some good things like importance of hygiene and social distancing.  Hope that the people won’t abandon these good practices once the threat of pandemic subsides.

We have also been able to apply some of the technological advancements to identify, treat and manage the pandemic. Experience gained should not go waste and can be profitably applied elsewhere. For example, eSanjeevini app or the contact tracing app called the Aarogya Setu app used during Covid can be leveraged in other areas such as tuberculosis and other deadly diseases. Further we should also think of going beyond collection of data to actually getting to use it much more effectively for better healthcare outcomes.

Inflation is another area of concern and the poor is the most affected by rising prices. When many people have lost their jobs and finding new and better jobs is no longer easy, continuous rise in prices of essential commodities is a sort of double whammy for the masses. While the cost of living is going up on the one hand, people’s source of income is dwindling. Continuation of this kind of situation for long may prolong the process of becoming world’s third largest economy.

Global warming followed by extreme weather events is another area of concern for all of us. Global warming is no longer a threat as its impact is felt everywhere and by everyone. US is affected by frequent storms. European cities see lot of floods. In India, heat waves, floods and cyclones have become new normal. It’s foolhardy to expect a solution for this problem in 2022 but one can expect at least some concrete steps being taken to fight the menace of global warming and climate change.

For India, a new calendar on the wall may not mean a sharp break from the past. Some of the major events of 2021, including the coup in Myanmar and the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan, will continue to reverberate us in 2022.

Its foolhardy to expect year 2022 to be a golden year which will see an end to all our problems. However, we can make it a much better year by using our past experience in managing the current issues.

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