Happy New Year! Let's hope that 2021 brings us back what we lost through 2020 -- the spirit of feeling free instead of having a constant shadow killing spontaneity, hovering over us to circumscribe our actions.
Of course given the COVID-19 pandemic and the fertile ground that is the internet, the seeds sown by conspiracy seekers yielded plenty to harvest. Add to it a 19th-century German scientist named Robert Koch who postulated rules to establish an infectious organism and there was a rush of COVID-19 denial, at least on the internet.
Koch's third postulate requires that a healthy individual be infected with the organism to prove it actually causes the disease. Medical and research ethics now have fortunately restricted scientists in such endeavors and 'doing no harm' takes precedence. So scientists use alternatives like interviews and epidemiology and conspiracy theorists yell COVID denial.
Given that people are lining up to receive the vaccine, one can assume the vast majority are sensible people and COVID-19 will soon be under control although a constant shadow for some time.
It has been costly for India already. A slightly sick economy ended up in intensive care when the 2020 GDP shrank almost 25 percent. Hopes are high for some of the beginnings of a recovery in 2021.
Across the northern border lies the other population giant where the China Communist Party celebrates its centenary on July 1. Fireworks? Yes. Any serious retrospectives? No. Mr. Xi Jinping is unlikely to invite comparisons to Mao as he tightens his grip on power. Most observers expect him to remain beyond 2022 when he should be relinquishing his position to a successor as has been the custom following a term of office.
There is no Red Book yet but an app called "Study the Great Nation" where Xi Jinping Thought is available to help keep officials on track and answer queries -- all in keeping with the 21st century.
If the Chinese are looking for a free pass under Biden, that era is over. Biden might be more selective than Trump's broad brush but the latter has shown the way. The US is unlikely to be taken for a ride by tariff-free exports, manufactured sometimes by what is tantamount to free labor, namely unfair competition.
The US economy itself is set for an expansion, COVID having served as a proxy for a recession. Markets anticipate the economy's future and stocks are booming. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics non-farm payroll rose by 245,000 in November and the unemployment rate edged down to 6.7 percent, all attributed to a continued resumption of economic activity.
Again a Happy 2021 and, as people are bound to, if among us we have differences of opinion, let us hope we learn to remain one in spirit. To paraphrase the Bible, we are after all our brothers' keepers.