The world shall remember the year 2020 as the year of Pandemic in the centuries to come. It made a bold time-marker in the history of civilization.
The escape of Coronavirus from a research laboratory in Wuhan Province of China was the subtle story when 2020 began. Within a few months into 2020, the highly contagious virus spread to all people-inhabited places, without an exception.
The disease also tested the effectiveness of the political system. Countries with the totalitarian type of government system were more effective in preventing and controlling the spread of the virus than the liberal democratic governments.
There was a rush in the study of biology and genetics of the virus to develop vaccines against it. By the end of the year, several biotech companies declared the invention of vaccines against Coronavirus. They brought the vaccines to use with little resistance from the people. All companies kept the test result and active-ingredient of the vaccine secret, even then the acceptance was high. It was because of the strategy adopted. The immunization started from the front-line workers and officers in high portfolios.
In February, I was in Jhapa to attend a program at Nepal-Bhutan Foundation. I also had worked on the conservation of historical documents.
Teknath Rizal, Dr. DNS Dhakal, Dr. Dinesh Bhattarai (former ambassador), Balaram Paudyal, President of Bhutan Peoples’ Party (BPP), Shailendra Arora, etc.
In a team of Nepalese scientists, we met the Chief Minister and ministers and officers of Province 1. The CM welcomed us with Rudraksha mala. There was a plan to establish a multi-disciplinary research center in the province. Months later, I had had the privilege to meet the Chief Minister of Gandaki Province and had a discussion over lunch.
I took part in a series of discussions that led to the publication of a journal by Youth Advocacy Nepal. I have an article on ‘Green revolution’ in the journal.
The PDF of the journal is HERE
I had opportunities to take part in social research, one for Gandaki Provincial Planning and Policy, and Two, for Good Neighbor International. In course of research I visited, Kaski, Tanahuan, Nawalparasai (East and west), and Lamjung. Sadly, no new district was added to my list of districts visited during the research. However, I had visited Palpa and Gulmi at the beginning of the year.
I had the honor of being affiliated with Nepal Environment and Sustainable Agriculture Foundation, and MUNAA Market Limited.
Lockdown enforced to control the spread of coronavirus brought most activities to rest. Closure of schools and academic institutions kept the students at home. Examinations of all levels were postponed indefinitely. People celebrated the festivals indoors, if at all.
All places of gathering like temples, cinema halls, restaurants, vehicles of mass transportation were closed. While other facilities opened gradually, cinema halls remained closed till the end of the year with no sign of reopening soon.
The online business became a prominent medium of exchange in markets. The online order followed by the home delivery system became common practices in capita and other major cities. Globally, online media like ZOOM, Google Meet, Believe flourished. The vaccine business soon followed it.
In 2020, I read about 25 books, 400+ articles, and 1000+ abstracts. I could publish 4 research articles in national journals and two articles got rejected.
Our team of IAAS people started an online discussion on Agriculture. It was conceptualized as a platform for college friends to meet and exchange updates and progress of life. However, the program became formal and academic to the extent that we had to abort the plan after 20 episodes.
I also had the privilege to teach technical writing courses to Master level students of Tribhuvan University. I had the privilege to author academic articles and edit The Bhutan Watch Journal.
World War III
All the countries suffered from resource drain-out because of the pandemic. China became the only country that benefited from the spread of the Coronavirus. The Chinese government was fast and efficient to control, cure, and prevent the spread of Coronavirus. It could control the movement of the people, track the carrier people, and sanitize the entire area. Large Chinese companies took advantage of the crisis by selling sanitizer, masks, incubators, and PCR and diagnostic test kits. The resources drained out from other countries enriched China making it the richest country in the world. Critiques accuse China of intentional design and release of the virus. The preparedness to handle and take the opportunity of the situation added value to the suspicion. If true, it is the third world war with China as the winner. Even if it is false and the escape was accidental the mode of future wars will be more biological than physical or chemical.
We have to expect the number of human-designed catastrophes and outbreaks of diseases and pests. As skills become more sophisticated, inventions will be more selective, specific, and effective.
East meets west
The 2020 Pandemic also mixed eastern and western cultures. The eastern values like Namaste, avoiding physical touch, regular washing, physical distancing, and western values such as individualism, independence in personal dealing were mixed up and became global. There was a loss of value of life with funeral rituals. Both the eastern and the western values respect funeral rituals that bring relatives and friends of the dead to a fraternity. The Coronavirus fear jeopardized this fraternity. Dead had no respect for the pandemic. Security personnel take away the dead bodies and disposed of them legally than religiously. In a long run, this practice will further break down family ties and intimacies.
As the year 2020 transits to 2021, the development of science and technology rise and respect for humanities fall.