The year 2020 was one of humanity’s worst chapters

Chaos and crises don’t follow a calendar. Most of the underlying problems and challenges that made 2020 feel like a horror story will roll along with us into the New Year. It’s true that 2020 was unusually bad, right from the start. It began with the eruption of the Taal Volcano in the Philippines that temporarily forced more than 135,000 people into shelters.
We also learned about the worst outbreak of desert locusts in 70 years in Kenya, with hundreds of millions of locusts swarming the country. To cap off the month of January, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of the coronavirus a global health emergency. No doubt, the pandemic is unarguably the most consequential global event of 2020.
The impact won’t be limited to a year, it will cascade over at least the next decade.  Some changes were already underway – such as the digitization of society. The pandemic brought home the costs of historical failures such as neglect of public health systems, or of infectious diseases.  Around 1.76 million have died and almost 80 million cases have been confirmed. The Coronavirus was a social leveller; neither wealth nor power offered protection.
The lockdowns and physical distancing crippled the global economy. A measure of the damage came from the extent to which the IMF adjusted its projection for 2020, the forecast in January of 3.2% growth being scaled down to a contraction of 4.4% by October.  The pandemic marks the end of the post-Cold War phase of globalisation, characterised by a degree of innocence. We are headed towards narrower groupings of the like-minded, rather than one where everyone was welcome in the fond hope of eventual convergence.
It might take several years, perhaps even more, to undo the wrongs of 2020, but we seem to think that 2021 will fix it all. Logically, that is an impossible task as we know that some of the things 2020 has done to us will never recover, one of them obviously is the way we live. Major world events tend to leave a lasting impact on human lives. Some of those events caused radical changes in social behaviour, many for the better albeit. World War II brought countless deaths and miseries. But the year 2020 was one of humanity’s worst chapters.
The New Year is being anticipated with such high expectations in all levels — economically, socially and, of course, health-wise. We pin all our hopes on the New Year to fix all that has gone wrong this year.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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