Guest column | Here is 2022, the year of hope
The United Nations has declared the New Year as the International Year of Small-Scale Fisheries and Aquaculture, but truly 2022 should be celebrated as the Year of Hope, after two years of Covid-induced hardship.
In the New Year, all nations will continue their bitter fight against this invisible and almost invincible enemy, the coronavirus, and the many variations it has spawned. With only 46% of the world’s population fully vaccinated against Covid, the battle is far from won. Until about 80% of the world is completely inoculated, we are not safe. Convincing non-believers, anti-vaccines, will be the biggest hurdle to overcome in the New Year.
At the same time, developed countries must also help developing countries which have only vaccinated 3-4% of their population.
The political standoff
On the global political stage, US President Joe Biden will remain the pivotal world leader. Despite the temporary hiccups his party faces, he will stand tall. Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin will dig a lonely furrow, unnecessarily stinging Ukraine. Putin’s people adore him, his dolls are sold on the streets of Moscow.
The real conflict will pass through the translucent “bamboo curtain” between the United States and China. China will continue to expand, especially in Asia and Africa, by financing infrastructure projects, annoying America with its expansionist policies. However, the Chinese have big wallets and they will continue to spend.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will continue to obscure his people, but will prosper. The new German leadership could struggle without Angela Merkel as chancellor. Polls will be conducted in India, while Afghanistan will struggle to find the money.
Hopefully there will be no wars. We must fight against hunger and poverty, which have increased over the past two years.
The IMF has predicted a growth rate of 4.9% in 2022. With variants of Covid harassing the world, its effects on the global economy remain to be seen. While the US economy could grow by around 3%, China with its zero Covid policy could grow by around 5%. Overall, the world economy could experience a decline of around 3%. Developing countries will be left behind.
Economic disparities are sure to widen. According to Oxfam, the richest 1% of the world’s population is more than twice the wealth with 6.9 billion people. About 811 million people sleep hungry every night and 2 billion people suffer from malnutrition. The agony and poverty suffered by citizens cannot be gleaned through the numbers. People have lost their faith, their families, their homes, their livelihoods, their savings over the past two years. Migrant workers who fled to their country have not yet returned.
The world needs at least three years to shave off the ghosts of the coronavirus. Real estate prices will remain low. The stock markets will oscillate anxiously, depending on new coronavirus mutants. Gold prices will hover between $ 1,875 and $ 1,900 per ounce, although its future is uncertain. Oil prices will dance, but will remain around 60 to 70 USD per barrel.
Inflation will give the world sleepless nights. Expect to pay more for food in 2022. Climate change will dominate the conclaves, with little action, while Greta Thunberg fulminates. International travel can lubricate the global economy, with quarantines and Covid passes.
Nations should undertake rigorous reviews of their health resources. Around the world, people have died while waiting for hospital beds, drugs, vaccines and oxygen. Priority should be given to the establishment of hospitals, beds, intensive care, medical schools and nursing institutes. Global growth does not make sense to the 124 million people living below the poverty line of $ 2 a day, during the pandemic. 2022 should be the year of the human economy, where the poor trump controversy.
Football and James Bond
The world will enjoy the FIFA football matches in Qatar. However, Latino fans will have to forgo their beers, shorts and dresses with spaghetti straps. Qatar frowns on alcohol and revealing clothing. The new thirst for medals in developing countries will be met at the Commonwealth Games. Novak Djokovic will break new records. India will once again seek the glory of cricket in the ICC championship.
The world will be looking for a new James Bond, as Daniel Craig has bowed out. Hungry movie fans will come to theaters.
Hope in 2022 depends on conquering Covid, repairing barriers between America and China, managing climate change, stimulating economic growth and reducing disparities. Hopefully the leaders will listen.
My soul mate, Patricia and I hope for a world without Corona. Then we can take long walks among the pine forests in the mountains. We are happy with the cold air, the silences and the white clouds that surround us. It had been a long time since Patricia and I held hands and walked endlessly, as soft, white snowflakes floated in the air. It is heavenly.
(The author is a freelance writer based in Mumbai)