2020 closed we dreamt many dreams,
We dreamt some nightmares too
The dreams didn’t work though they went on stream
But the nightmares soon came true.
When 2021 began we thought we’d won
Our long battle with Covid-19
We patted our genes for the job they’d done
The vanquished virus was now on the run
Oh, what a wondrous web our genes had spun
To trap the monster that stalks unseen.
Now it’s time to get back to where we’d been.
Recent tears in our eyes were all wiped clean.
We felt we were blessed by divinity
To so quickly acquire herd immunity.
Forgetting those who are human born
With neither hoof nor horn
Had better vaccinate the community
When January brought AstraZeneca
In unison we chorused Eureka.
The way science pulled it off
Shamed some to gulp their scoff.
They had earlier said it wasn’t sincere
To promise a vaccine within a year.
Now Poonawalla of Serum Institute
In a move both wise and very astute,
Started producing the vaccine here.
He catchily branded it “Covishield”
Assuring all there was nothing to fear
At first people doubted, still not sure,
Whether to line up and take their shots.
What was the hurry? Do we need a cure?
Could this be one of those vicious plots
To make money by creating a global scare?
As cases were few, we really didn’t care.
We junked Covid appropriate ways to meet,
How to keep distance when we greet.
Now nose and mouth are private parts
Even if it breaks a hundred hearts
We must cover them when on the street.
We started slacking from late 2020,
The IPL matches brought crowds in plenty.
Both Diwali and Christmas were party time
Weddings overflowed with guests and wine
Social distancing? Masks? What’s the use?
When Covid-19 is yesterday’s news.
Come open our doors, long been battened
What went wrong have since been straightened
The images of migrant workers blurred
Blows to the economy were not as feared
Our genes stayed true though our policies erred.
We can rise from adversities however rotten.
It’s pure good fortune to be thus begotten.
India we thought was well into healing
While Covid-19 has the whole world reeling.
With such good cheer we began this year,
Mirthful times went on non-stop
As Covid cases continued to drop.
We joyfully hugged and backslapped all,
And warmly held close those dear
Covid was gone, why should we stall,
Good times were back, we were having a ball.
Farmers held the largest rally ever
In this upbeat frame, in Fall last year.
They were united by the common fear,
That the three new laws would finally sever
Their mandities and put to test
What for years had served them best.
The Minimum Support Price would soon be gone
Making all farmers capitalists’ pawns.
If these laws remain, so will their protest.
The winter chill didn’t check their numbers
Their siege stayed on by Delhi’s borders.
Huddled in quilts, defying government orders.
They even planned their own Republic Day,
Which went horribly ugly as the wrong sort
Went berserk and reckless around Red Fort.
The farmers stalled and then pulled back
Regrouping soon to continue the attack.
Ministers all tried hard to placate
Yet the striking farmers refused to vacate.
The Capital is still ringed by them
Little townships skirting Delhi’s hem.
Farmers came from village after village
As if reaching Delhi was a pilgrimage.
The government finally offered to suspend
The laws that farmers felt were wrong.
That didn’t spur the masses to amend
Their stand, for they were on a crest.
Fully stocked, they could sit for long
Without ever easing their pressure, lest
It gave the feeling they’d withdraw
Before Minimum Support Price became a law.
Covid waited and then in March it struck,
But we kept believing our impregnable luck
And found no reason to change course, or duck.
IPL even flashed a brand new stadium
Once named Motera, now after our PM.
The stands were full and every boisterous fan
Was cheering and howling as loud as they can.
Whether in humble villages or bustling cities
Nobody eased up on festivities.
Meanwhile the virus morphed wickedly again
More lethal now and called the Delta strain.
But we still refused to change our intent
Plunging head-on, event after event.
The IPL, Kumbh, then elections in Bengal
We just could not stop, we were having a ball.
The Kumbh Mela drew millions to Hardwar
A holy dip to cleanse every spiritual scar
All sins, all errors, all moral taints,
It was also a time to meet sadhus and saints.
Many feared the virus and advised more caution
But the state feared this might offend devotion.
It would also send out a negative message,
Of authorities stifling our hoary heritage.
Simple advisories on how people must behave
Were enough to quell a Covid wave.
The ghats were so full of religious bliss
If the virus was around it would hit and miss.
There were no signs of worry, however faint
Faith is profound, even if some think it’s quaint.
The Bengal elections were rough and they were tough,
Guns and muscles and vitriol enough.
Both sides battled with all their might
No holds barred, like a cage fight.
The elections dragged for weeks on end
With rods and guns at every bend.
Mamata finally won, the margin vast,
Her hair on fire, she just shot past.
Mamata trouped alone, her leg in plaster,
Wheelchairing her way from cluster to cluster.
BJP rallies, contrarily, were multi-starred
And Mamata used that to vault at the poll,
Saying a BJP win meant alien control.
Bengali culture would then be so badly marred
That Tagore from heaven would cry in shame
At the rapacious plunder of Bengal’s fair name.
Vidyasagar, Bankim and even Satyajit Ray
Would mourn their culture withering away.
Through all of this the virus kept growing,
Stronger and bolder, its spikes all showing.
But electoral jousts moved politicians most,
Immune to reason and deaf as a post.
Did Kumbh superspread, as some contend?
Or were Bengal elections a grim portend
Of how Delta from now on would grow at will,
Morphing dangerously with a view to kill.
It did just that from March to May
Forcing humans in thousands to dust from clay.
In June, Northeast again aroused our fears
In 2020, Galwan clashes were the worst in years.
Compelling our army to let the Chinese know
It could dismantle bunkers in Pangong Tso.
All autumn it took to disengage
Forces that were poised on either side.
From Tawang near Tibet stretched the battle stage
With mountain crannies, deep and wide
(Offering) enough shelter for foes to hide.
Xinjiang sprung airports, all on the sly,
The fighter jets in there began to multiply
China’s long-range bombers were on our borders too,
Hoping India would shake and drop the other shoe.
That did not happen, though we were ready for talks
Yet when a settlement is near, China routinely balks.
Good fences make good neighbours for sure,
But this pain on the side we’ve got to endure.
The monsoons were happily greeted in July
For that’s when the crops need their annual feed.
Those dark clouds were welcome, but often belie
An angry nature upset by our greed.
At so many places the skies howled and wept,
Landslides were common, embankments swept.
Cities were flooded with gurgling drains,
Such was the fury of incessant rains.
The Olympics also brought joy in July
Neeraj won a gold with his javelin throw
On TV we saw his lithe spear fly,
And stick its sharp end to steal the show.
There were bronzes and silvers also in tow.
Our hockey team too rose like the Phoenix
But July wouldn’t leave our joys unalloyed
It also brought bad news into the mix.
It exposed Pegasus that states employed
To spy on people they wanted to fix.
With this malware Pegasus could invade
Computers at will and easily frisk,
Private data, yet calmly evade
Their owners’ notice, placing them at risk.
Parliament went into ruckus mode,
Charges flung freely across the floor.
To the well of the House many MPs strode
Heaping blame on our government’s door.
Did it use this spyware? Yes or No!
Both sides fought hard, blow for blow.
At last the Supreme Court did step in
To bring orderly process, shutting out the din.
Is there even a sinner, or there is just the sin?
We will soon know, but let inquiries begin.
In the meantime the GDP drew an upward arc,
Growing 8.4 per cent in the second quarter this year.
Though still a shade under the pre-pandemic mark
A jump from negative trends was clear.
Through the last three quarters have we found our feet?
Or do government investments still hold the key?
Clearly private consumption is not ready to meet
The demands of growth, inflationary and risky.
The losses we suffered in the past year and more
Have kept us yet from a sheltered shore.
So, in August the government decided to sell
Rs 6 trillion, or more, of its own assets,
In Railways, highways, oil and gas as well
Hoping to spur growth without amassing debts.
Then in October came the much awaited news
That ailing Air India would be sold at last.
The Tatas won the bid it had little to lose
As the state would pay most debts from the past.
The fine print didn’t matter, there was much relief
That Air India had found its way back home.
Now it need no longer writhe in constant grief,
For Tatas would ensure its planes would roam
The wide blue skies with an efficient guide
Reliving its old, much vaunted pride.
The Global Climate Meet was in Glasgow this year
Some leaders sermonised; some broke down in tears
Some prevaricated, some expressed their fears.
Amidst all this, India stood steadfastly tall
Not a word of recrimination, guilt or shame
India spelt out its goals without apportioning blame,
And actually sounded the bugle call.
Showing confidence which some others lacked
India put its cards face-up on the table
For forward planning, keeping to the pact,
Of controlling temperature and showed it was able
To chart each step with extreme precision.
This forced others to review decisions
And do much more to mend the world
That has long been mired in a toxic swirl.
Promises abroad sound wonderfully thrilling
But at home our air is wantonly killing.
India stunned all by raising the bar
Exceeding all expectations by far.
We committed that by the year 2030
Half of India’s energy will be renewable
By 45 per cent we’d cut carbon intensity.
Making corporate life far from usual
Railways will soon have zero emission
India finally promised in its grand admission
By 2070 we will have zero emission.
Still in Glasgow, but after the event,
India and UK in shared sentiment
Pledged solar grids spanning continents
To transmit clean energy at very high speed
A good thought, it’s true, but we await the deed.
Words rang out in hope those days in Glasgow,
Will they ever come real, we are yet to know.
Suddenly, 20th November saw the PM declare,
The unilateral repeal of the farm laws passed.
Hoping this gesture would somewhat repair
The near-one-year animus the farmers amassed.
He even surprised all by saying he repents,
Yet farmers remained in their makeshift tents.
Unless Minimum Support Price became a law
They’d stay put and not let the movement thaw.
After a week, or so, of angry, adamant show,
Thick with rejections and sullen derision,
Though it was hard to overturn their vision,
Farmers too were tiring of the status quo.
The PM’s gesture had loosened some parts
And, maybe not all, but it changed some hearts.
Talks now took off in a changed situation
A stalemate, after all, is not a solution.
Then on December 9th, by popular consent,
Farmers pulled back when Parliament
Agreed to revoke earlier laws,
And review Minimum Support Price clause.
Things are happening, yes, we will survive
The pandemic might soon get up and go
Yet while we are living are we really alive
When tomatoes cost Rs 120 a kilo?
And the price of petrol is more than booze
So rise with the tide, swing with the flow
Live for the moment as you’ve nothing to lose.
2021 is now left with only its wick to burn
Sadness outweighs whatever joys it brought
Who knows if Omicron is the next in turn
But be ready to give it your very best shot
So many have gone in needless pain
Leaving dark voids behind
Looking back in anger would be in vain
We have no option but to clean up our mind
So we can forge ahead, resolute and strong
Stand for what’s right, and right what’s wrong.