Flights Of Fantasy
[ Monty Panging ]
With New Year 2022 approaching, the world bid farewell to 2021, maybe one of the worst years of our times after 2020 when Covid-19 originated and locked down the entire world.
The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic peaked during mid-2021 with thousands being infected and hospitalized and many hospitals facing shortage of lifesaving oxygen. The coronavirus mutated and wreaked havoc in all parts of the world. However, 2021 also ushered in good news with the successful launch of the Covid-19 vaccine. The advent of the vaccines, including made-in-India vaccines, gave hope to humanity, and the onerous task of vaccinating huge population to achieve herd immunity was started on a war footing. As on date, India has surpassed 140 crore vaccination doses, achieving 80 percent of eligible population with the first dose vaccination and 42 percent people fully vaccinated.
2021 was marked by some major global events, including Joe Biden taking over as the president of the United States, the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, civil war in Ethiopia, etc. Increasing global warming caused extreme weather like heat waves, cyclones, cold waves, forest fires and flooding in many parts of the world. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Summer Olympics was held without spectators, where India won the highest ever medals tally, including a gold medal in athletics by Neeraj Chopra and a medal in hockey after 41 years.
In India, major events included the massive farmers’ protest, which was called off just a few weeks back. Air India was disinvested and was returned to the Tata Group, which had originally raised the airline, after 70 years.
Two major events shook Northeast India. Violent clashes broke out between Assam and Mizoram over the boundary dispute, leading to loss of lives and property. The situation cooled down only after the intervention by the central government. The other was the mistaken killing of 14 civilians in Mon district of Nagaland by security forces. The killings led to widespread violence in the area with vociferous calls by the locals to repeal the contentious Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
In Arunachal, events included an unusual programme called ‘Airgun Surrender Abhiyan’, which led to hundreds of airguns being surrendered by local villagers. To mark the 75th year of independence, Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav was also launched with various functions. A rampaging Siang river devastated large areas of the left bank areas of Mebo subdivision in East Siang district and many roads were washed away due to landslides and river erosion.
Although a third wave is expected with the mutated Omicron version of Covid-19, India is expected to reach the herd immunity figure of 70 percent by the next few months and vaccine for children is also expected soon. The year 2022 may bring hope to humankind to overcome fear and start living normal lives. Readers, we all have grown one year older.
To paraphrase Robert Frost: The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)