The year 2020 will go down in the pages of history as a bad year of bad times. It was bad for the entire mankind across the world. The year 2021 has entered with great expectations; it is going to be the year of hot elections with political temperatures rising high as the states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam will be going to polls with neck to neck fight.
Time will tell whether BJP will be able to make Mamata Banerjee’s exit possible in West Bengal. In Tamil Nadu also, DMK and AIADMK are going to have stiff competition as DMK remained out of power for 10 years and ambitious BJP is also struggling hard to make its inroads in Tamil Nadu.
Kerala is the only state which is being run by Marxist and Congress can have some hope there as it may join hands with Marxists. Assam is the state which is still fighting the highly contentious issue of the Citizenship Amendment Act and it is not going to be smooth sailing for BJP.
Even farmers’ protest is also hanging fire in the new year and there is hardly any compromise to be seen on both the sides that is Government of India and farm unions which are demanding the repeal of new farm laws. This is a real herculean task for the Central government on its reform spree to resolve the issue as protesting farmers are gaining support not only from Punjab, Haryana and other corners of India but also from Indian diaspora, settled abroad.
For the time being, Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of the farm laws and constituted a four-member committee (Ashok Gulati, Anil Ghanwat, PK Joshi and Bhupinder Singh Maan), out of which, one (Bhupinder Singh Maan) has recused to be the member of the panel. This committee is also not acceptable to the farmers as some of the members have been allegedly instrumental in supporting the farm laws.
In 2021, Coronavirus seems to be abating and the vaccination drive launched by Modi government has given a shot in the arm. Vaccination will develop herd immunity and it needs the joint cooperation of the Centre and the State to make this drive successful.
As per the circumstances, we are quite hopeful that situation will become normal in country during the second half of the year. India has paid a heavy price during COVID-19 as the economy was shattered. Punjab’s economy has incurred a loss of Rs 4,500 crore due to the non-resolution of the farmers’ agitation.
The large scale production of corona vaccine will surely give a boost not only to the people’s fight against COVID-19 but also push the economy, enabling the people to work round the clock. Mass scale vaccination will give a ray of hope to the hospitality and travel and tourism industry which suffered a huge setback in 2020. They are all waiting for the boom which they used to experience during pre-COVID days.
The biggest challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi will remain economy as PM is chalking out a number of plans to make India a part of global supply chains and all-out efforts are being made to make India an alternative market to China. Prime Minister has comfortable majority in the house and whatever the plans and reforms of the government are, they can be executed without any hurdle.
The Union Budget, which is going to be the first budget after pandemic, will be highly scrutinized, well-researched and well-amended. People do expect that this budget will be a mood changer of the common man and the underprivileged people as the government has realised the hard times suffered by the migrant labourers during their on-foot travel to their villages. The country is looking forward to celebrating the 71st Republic Day and it is saddening to see the imbalance of prices of essential commodities. The system has not been stabilized so far; it needs stability.
It is the moral duty of the Central as well as the State governments to look after genuine interest of citizens and redress the grievances of the people. If the budget comes up to the expectations of the common man, people will forget the losses and government’s image will be refurbished.
TS Chawla is a senior journalist based at Ludhiana.
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