Another year of desperation, lockdown, slowdown, slackening, stagnation and deprivation is about to elapse. Though this year brought vaccination to the COVID19 pandemic, but it didn't proved an antidote. New COVID19 variant viz Omicron has put question marks before the efficacy of different COVID-19 vaccine brands including our own COVISHIELD. Life almost remained crippled, paralyzed, blunt and dull; as it was in the year 2020. Commoners continued to suffer on different fronts. There was no solace, succor and relief to the miseries of common people. The year 2021 gave us ugly scars and bruises. All our educational institutions bore a deserted look throughout the year. Rich became richer and poor became poorer. Modern capitalists continued to suck the blood of the poor and the economically weaker sections of our society. Inflation deflated the balloon of hollow promises of people at the helm of affairs.
COVID-19 influenza ate up the year 2021 without any considerable and sizeable achievement. Education of children fell victim to the deadly infection for a consecutive second year. Lockdown in the first semester of the year dented our economy very badly. Tourism which is the backbone of our economy, witnessed recession and downturn. Daily wagers, street vendors and labourers faced terrible times to arrange two meals for their families. Fear gripped commoners to the extent that they didn't dare to venture out to earn their livelihoods. It was either the fear of contracting the virus or the baton charging of police truncheons which confined people to their rooms and homes, despite being impoverished by the containment measures. Agricultural produce succumbed to scanty marketing opportunities.
According to a Times of India report, 320 million students across India were denied adequate educational opportunities, during COVID19 crisis. In a detailed report, the global internet network research said, “Only 24% families in India had access to internet." And who not knows the perils and pitfalls of the addictive cyberspace. Besides being detrimental and deleterious to our different aspects of health, it has injured us morally. The drawbacks of this information highway are highly dangerous and threatening for young and adolescent children. It has left deep scars on our fragile social and moral fabric. Even many social scientists and researchers suggest no or moderate access of children to internet. The scenario in our valley is no better than the rest of the country.
Economic slowdown caused by lockdowns and other COVID19 mitigating efforts , worsened the food insecurity scenario in our country. The pandemic has exacerbated the poverty in our own country. The prevalent circumstances display a grim and serious scenario. According to global hunger index released in October 2021, India has sunk deeper into the hunger crisis. From its 94th rank in 2020, it has slipped further seven notches to stand at 101 rank. Confinement steps have widened the gulf of unemployment in our country. The CMIE (Centre for monitoring Indian economy) reveals that both rural and urban unemployment rates in India have almost touched 15% during 2021.
The whole world isn't an exception to it. Uncertainty, stupefaction and confusion prevailed everywhere. Poor countries in general and the third world countries in particular, witnessed multiple challenges on different fronts. Some battled badly to fight the hunger, some craved for life saving drugs and other important medicine, and some failed to aggravate the poverty mitigating efforts. Least developed countries (LDCs) are the most vulnerable nations to witness a steep surge in poverty. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC), global tourism industry has suffered a deficit of 22 billion US dollars. The report further says that the hospitality industry is all set lose 50 million jobs across the globe. The COVID19 pandemic ravaged and devastated the world.
Many African and Latin American countries have no access to COVID19 vaccination. Big chunks of population in LDCs have no access to different COVID19 vaccine brands. World Bank's vice president for human development, Mamta Murthi calls it a big threat to the global health. According to her, unvaccinated populace poses a threat of recurrence of the deadly infection. Vaccinated lot is susceptible to reinfection because their proximity to unvaccinated people. Now, the onus is on the developed countries of the world to look beyond their economies and interests. It should be looked through humanitarian prism. The vaccines must be made available to those countries and nations as well, which have no access to it.
One thing is as clear as daylight, that the COVID19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. I believe it is a divine retribution inflicted upon us, for our sins and misdeeds. Conclusion of every year sounds alarm bells to wise and sagacious, because termination of a year means the elimination of 365 days from the fixed quota of our lives. But, crackpots and buffoons hardly give a serious thought to it. Like every year, they are all set to go for wild celebrations, despite being dented, dwindled and depleted by the pandemic. There are obvious and vivid signs of Allah (SWT) in such collective punishments and inflictions, but, alas! We don't have the eyes to see it. Divine verdicts and judgements descend perfectly in accordance with the deeds ascending from the earth. People must have built hopes, aspirations, dreams and longings with the New Year. But, none has included repentance and contrition in their New Year resolutions. Wrath and rage of Allah (SWT) is forgotten. We must turn to Him, seek His refuge and forgiveness. He alone is sure to end our pains and miseries.
Now, we are about to welcome 2022. Though dates are sure to change, but the plight of commoners might not. The world has still many issues to resolve. I wish, the hungry get food to eat in 2022, unemployed and jobless witness a change in their fortunes, sick and ailing get adequate healthcare facilities, all the barren, bleak and empty educational institutions see the chirrup, chitter and chatter of blooming buds. All the people across the globe irrespective of caste, creed and faith are yearning for positive changes in the approaching year 2022. May Allah (SWT) bring peace, prosperity, positivity, productivity and profitability to His slaves, spread through length and breadth on this planet earth!
(Author is a Teacher and Rising Kashmir Columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com)