Takeaways from 2020

2020 has indeed been a year that none of us imagined in our wildest dreams. It will certainly remain in our memories as an exceptional year that was capable of amusing the entire world. Broadly seeing, this year has been a year of grief. While some may have lost their loved ones, others lost their favorite basketball player, football idol, or beloved actor.  As we draw the year to a close, here are the few takeaways, headlines, and life experiences that we will be carrying with us as we enter a New Year.

The year started usually, with many of us trying to stick to our resolutions. Some decided to quit bad habits while others decided to work on their health this year. But little did we know that our strength and patience were going to get tested this year. This was the first time since World War II that a single phenomenon was dictating the global news throughout the year. The COVID-19 pandemic followed by the global lockdown was always in the headlines throughout the year. Terms like Social-Distancing and Self-Quarantine became a regular part of our conversations. Use of face masks, hand sanitizers and the practice of work from home became a regular part of our lives. People started calling this year as the year of pandemic, the year of sanitizers and face masks, but this was also the year of self-introspection and soul searching. The pandemic certainly took away the joy of celebrating festivals and birthdays with our special ones, but it gave us the time to take a pause from our hectic lives and gave us the much-needed break from the monotony of everyday life. The pandemic made us appreciate the rising sun and the chirping birds, which we never noticed because of the rat race we are all caught up in. It gave us time to try on new things and develop new skills. For some of us, this year of pandemic also brought families closer. It brought the time to sit back and talk with friends and family. Not just family and friends we also got to learn a lot about our neighbors during this year. The whole family started sharing household chores which was earlier done by our mothers or wives only. We all tried out new recipes in our kitchens, some were delicious while some failed miserably.

As for me, the worldwide lockdown, the empty restaurants, the silent roads forced me to imagine a world without human interference. The fearless animals that were spotted near residential areas, the deep blue sky and the fresh breeze made me realize that human`s advancement has spoiled the natural beauty of our planet. Had it not been for this pandemic, we would have been busy in our daily routines of achieving our ambitious goals and proving ourselves superior to others.

The year also made us realize that the most essential jobs are the most neglected and the least paid ones. The shopkeepers, the garbage collectors, delivery people, and of course the nurses have a much important role in society than any of those high salaried jobs. This realization was clearly visible when all the 1.36 billion citizens of India came out of their houses at specified times to cheer the service of the essential workers once by lighting candles and then by clapping hands or banging pots and plates. This may not improve their economic condition but I feel the society will certainly give them more respect than earlier.

The year also brought turning events for students. The New Education Policy (NEP) came into play and gave our education system the much needed reforms. The schools and colleges were left empty and online classes were the only option left by these institutes. Students preparing for entrance exams like JEE, NEET and others were frustrated due to the ambiguity in dates and mode of conduction of these exams amid COVID-19 situations. As the year ends, the students are still waiting for their schools to reopen so that they can meet their friends and teachers again and sit in their classrooms and study, but the government has yet not taken any decision on the same.

2020 also witnessed the end of centuries old dispute over the Ayodhya Ram Temple with the foundation stone of the temple laid by the Prime Minister Modi in August this year. I do not want to get in the debate of whether the decision was right or wrong, nor I want to comment over it, but at least this issue is over for now, and politicians can no longer use it in elections to gain vote. Now, they could start talking over the real issues.

The year has also showed us what we all are capable of doing if we stand united. The Black Lives Matter Movement that started in the United States to show anger and disapprove to the killing of George Floyd followed by killing of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor in May this year continued to become a global movement for racial justice and equality. People from all over the world took part in these protests which also turned violent in few countries. More protests started in August when 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot by a Wisconsin cop (in United States) paralyzing his lower body. Some polls suggest that approximately 20 million people participated in the movement in some form or other making it one of the biggest civil disobedience in the history of United States.

The year also witnessed the Presidential Election of world`s second largest democracy. Despite COVID-19 protocols, elections and political rallies were seen in United States as Joe Biden was contesting against the incumbent Donald Trump. The Democrats supporters were seen cheering on the streets at midnight when Joe Biden was officially announced as the 46th President of the United States. Not only the United States, India too witnessed elections of few states. But as one part of world was witnessing democracy and fair elections, Hong Kong and Taiwanese people were facing the brutality of China. The world saw China`s ambitions to take over Taiwan and dominate the South China Sea.

2020 also saw the cruelty of humans. The four-day long war between Azerbaijan and Armenia caused severe causalities on each side. Blood shed was also seen in the Galwan valley at the Indo China border. On June 15, the attack by Chinese soldiers in Galwan valley, Ladakh caused twenty Indian soldiers, including the commanding officer of the battalion, to lose their lives during the face-off. This incident is considered India’s most deadly encounter with China in the past four decades. In October, a teacher was beheaded by an 18-year-old outside Paris for allegedly showing the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo to his class while discussing freedom of speech. The attack was followed by the killing of three people in Nice by a Tunisian migrant. These incidents prompted France to declare its highest-level security alert and the French President Emmanuel Macron to respond in a way which led to ban of French made products by the Islamic countries.

But while these acts of hatred and brutality were going on, the pandemic also brought out humanity in many people. On seeing the extreme conditions of the daily wage workers in India during the lockdown, many people and organizations came forward to help them. These workers were struggling to earn a meal for their families and so many foundations, individuals and even residential colonies decided to provide food to them. Some good Samaritans helped these workers to reach their villages without paying a single penny.

Summing it up, the year 2020 had its fair share of global events, sorrows and political dramas. This year was successful in surprising us in every possible way. But the most important takeaway I had from this year (and hopefully for everybody) was to always have hope. This year showed us that conditions around us can change abruptly and there is no limit to how bad these situations can become, but even in the darkest days, there will always be a ray of hope waiting to be looked up for. No matter how severe the COVID-19 pandemic (or any other epidemic or pandemic) may be, we will get to a solution. As we step into 2021, the the news of potential vaccines to be approved by the governments all across the world gives us a ray of hope. The best way to survive a problem is to face it with our loved ones and stand united as one single global community as we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

-Priyanshi Mishra (Freelancer)

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