The good, the bad and the ugly about 2020

At the end of each year, I follow a kind of a ritual – I scan through all the major newspapers to see the ‘year gone by’ in pictures. Closing my eyes, I transport myself to that time, that month, to that particular event as I devour the major happenings. I catch myself asking, ‘Oh, did this really happen?’ Or, ‘How did I forget this?’ Then there are those images that bring a smile…great cinema, the best restaurant and the best dish that I made a point to visit and relish. And of course, fashion and the emerging styles and colours…the swirling tunics, the vibrant yellows, the unisex designs, glittery jewelry…My favorite – the top 10 travel destinations in that year, what new destinations do I earmark for the upcoming year…the mystic wonder of nature, smoky mountains, slopping hills, wavy oceans that beckon… as each image replays in my mind, I allow myself to get transported to that place, time, location, I relive the famous movie snippets that had me rolling in laughter or had me crying, the books that took me to the author’s world, the high and lows of relationships that rocked my world…

Today, as I follow my annual ritual, the visuals that come in are very different…with almost all countries in a lockdown phase with varying degrees and every country ravaged by the pandemic, I seek spikes that relate to sorrow, unhappiness, despair, loss of jobs, the sudden going away of loved ones, the burgeoning mental trauma, no hugs, loneliness, abusive relationships, shrinking economies,…I mean, what is there to cheer about in 2020? 

Then, I shift my focus – remember, our mind is like a kaleidoscope. Shift the focus and new patterns and new colors emerge. You are bound to see the silver linings even in this decade of doom. I did that and here is what the colourful kaleidoscopic patterns of 2020 tell me:

  • Humanity unparallel

Sure, there was misery all over. Who can forget images of migrants having to walk for hours and hours because they no longer had jobs? But my refocus bought back the helping hands – people chipping in with whatever they could, in whatever way they could. Sonu Sood and his support for transporting millions of migrants back. Chef Vikas Khanna with his team providing free meals. Many of us continuing to support our extended family of drivers, helps, babysitters, …

We all dipped into the deep recesses of our humanity to make sure that the light of kindness shone long and bright.

  • The regaining of trust in science and research & development

The kind of partnerships forged across pharmaceutical companies, the push to work together, the COVAX coalition working for global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and the inventiveness and agility shown by many Indian vaccine makers – one cause bond this community strongly and there is a sense of commitment to save the world. Developing a new vaccine within a short time frame of less than a year and with a renewed, deeper sense of purpose is something that the scientific community will cherish for eternity. 

  • The acceleration of the digital

Whether you are someone who is associated with the pharmaceuticals organisation or whether you belong to the service industry or you are part of the PR firm – digital has been the undisputed kind/queen in this pandemic. It was as though the pandemic was cataclysmic, a tsunami force pushing organisations to change, do digital and connect through different platforms. What was planned for three years down the line, had to be reworked and acted upon within a month’s time frame!

  • Window to new learnings

Take a pause and reflect on the number of webinars, events, virtual conferences you attended this year. How many new people you connected with? Count the leaders whom you were always in awe of and who you got the opportunity to listen to sitting from the comfort of your home! The year 2020 has played a monumental role in enhancing skills and providing new opportunities to listen to experts from across the globe. Many of these sessions have been pro bono and all that they asked was our attention and passion to the subject/cause.

Yes, 2020 has been a horrible year. Yes, there have been millions who have lost the battled against the virus. There is no denying any of that. But the end of the year calls for a reflection of the goodness that was born and be in gratitude for the changes it has heralded. 

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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