Nicholas Kristof stunned most people who read his counterintuitive, even seemingly contrarian, piece in The New York Times, headlined, “This Has Been the Best Year Ever”, with a tagline — “For humanity over all, life just keeps getting better”.
Did we just have a great year but missed feeling it because we spent too much time on the social media? Did the howling and yelling during the television debates so completely swamp us that we missed the sweet humming of life, even as it got better on all fronts? The Indian economy is in a mess, and we seem nowhere close to even sighting its root cause. The nation, society and people themselves are in a grip of palpable fear, some stoked, some visceral, and some very real. What good therefore can be crystal ball gaze ahead? Or is it just the diehard lotus-eater singing the tunes of optimism on the foundation of a flawed belief that bad news has peaked and can only give away to a better everything.
2019 was supposed to have been the year when technology should have completely transformed governance for the better, harnessed power to connect people to also bring them together, so much that everyone would be part of a co-linked community, and removed misunderstandings by enabling conversations. Instead, technology has become our best instrument to divide people, and its information dissemination powers eclipsed by the takeover of fake counters and falsities driving divisive narratives, successfully.
Globalisation, liberalisation and smartphones have not become the troika of deliverance, or redemption, but are firmly perched to drive the world into the future. What we need is to wake up. 2020 won't be the year we envisioned two decades ago, but it can still be great, and ours. If only we can make just that little difference ourselves.