Editorial: The year of magical thinking

To get through this new year, we might need a little bit of luck and a lot of magical thinking. So to all those involved, put on your thinking caps, and get cracking.
Editorial: The year of magical thinking
Representative Image

Chennai

We entered 2022 knowing fully well the fallout of the Anthropocene Epoch. The new-age term unofficially describes a geologic unit of time that marked the most recent period in Earth’s history when human activity began having a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems. We are seeing examples of it in unprecedented episodes of natural calamities such as flash floods a day before New Year’s eve in Chennai, forest fires, droughts, the melting of ice caps and more. Last year’s CoP-26 mandated commitments from all nations to comply with the net zero carbon emission requirements. It demanded that India also reassess its policies vis-a-vis highly polluting fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal. Our Road Transport and Highway Ministry is working to make the dream of a flex-engine and EV led green revolution a reality in India.
The dichotomy of our quest for sustainability was also offset by some of the world’s billionaires spending billions on rocket fuel to turn outer space into personal sandboxes for interstellar tourism. The final frontier has turned into a battleground with Beijing reprimanding the US for not putting a leash on SpaceX whose satellites stopped short of crashing into a Chinese space station. But Beijing calling out the West, while continuing with its expansionist regime, is a running joke. Our estranged neighbour has already begun converting villages meant for civilian settlements into military infrastructure near the contentious LAC. Our other problematic neighbour Pakistan was buoyed by the US military pulling out of Afghanistan after over two decades, literally handing over the nation to the Taliban on a platter. India’s approach to national security in the next few years will be defined by its relationship to prickly, nuclear-armed neighbours, with not a friend in sight, save the recently formed Quad alliance.
Within our boundaries, the opportunities and threats are dime-a-dozen. The spectre of militant nationalism is now overshadowing many parts of India, as members of minority communities face persecution of an altogether different magnitude. From the choice of worship, to the choice of food, and spouse, the impact is all pervasive. The Prime Minister has chosen to maintain a studied silence, whenever such aspects of the ruling party’s excesses are called into question, even as he lends his full-bodied support for the consecration of religious sites aimed at amplifying the Hindutva agenda. And with good reason — there’s an upcoming assembly election in UP, Punjab, Gujarat and Goa. Politics aside, India has a bit of answering to do in both the business and sporting fronts. Cryptocurrency, which took up quite a bit of print and airspace last year, does not show any signs of slowing down in 2022, unless the government knocks it down with a legislation. Stakeholders believe it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that India should not dismiss on account of short-sightedness. On the subject of myopia, India’s favourite pastime, and our surrogate national sport is also in need of some TLC in 2022. The BCCI president and a key player are not on talking terms. And this certainly does not bode well for Team India.
Finally, on the subject of COVID, most experts have been telling us for a while now, we must learn to live with the coronavirus as it will eventually turn into an endemic malady that will require us to take booster shots on a periodic basis. If anything, 2021 was a bellwether of how science and technology would not just save our lives, but change it for the better. And it’s essential we harness this power of human ingenuity to turn back time in a few departments.
To get through this new year, we might need a little bit of luck and a lot of magical thinking. So to all those involved, put on your thinking caps, and get cracking.

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