We all tend to know what the coming year has in store for us and even rely on astrology and tarot to forecast the year ahead.
However, politics and international relations don’t work that way.
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The most important thing this year for India will be vaccine manufacturing and the world will be relying on the country for large-scale production and supply.
The Serum Institute of India is producing Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Hyderabad-based Biological E has struck a deal for the shot being developed by Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary.
Reports say Biological E may also manufacture the vaccine being developed by Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine.
Indian Immunologicals Ltd has entered into a partnership with Australia’s Griffith University.
Dr Reddy’s has a deal to produce 100 million doses of the Sputnik V.
India’s vaccine makers are known for their safety measures and effectiveness. But, going forward, India’s role will be beyond large-scale vaccine supply and in 2021, the country will also be looking for equitable distribution of vaccines.
To ensure that distribution is not skewed towards wealthy countries, India will be supplying 100 million doses of vaccines to middle-income countries.
It has promised 30 million shots to Bangladesh. Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lotay Tshering has said that India’s lead to develop vaccines “is a source of hope for all of us”.
In 2021, India will be the world’s hope for global vaccination.
Reviving the economy
This year, another big task for India will be getting its economy back on track.
In 2020, India entered its first recession since Independence.
The country needs to restructure its balance sheets, improve monetary policy transmission.
The IMF predicts that it will take India at least three years to recover from the pandemic blow to get its per capita GDP back to pre-pandemic levels.
As the Indian economy gets back on its feet, it can try to use the opportunity to include more digital technology.
The China challenge
China is another big challenge for India in 2021 and this hurdle is multi-fold.
First, India will have to look at ways to restructure the supply China, weed out Chinese products.
Secondly, India will have to get the dragon off its back at Ladakh.
It should work towards defining the Line of Actual Control or find alternatives, maybe military options.
India has a headway here as it controls the heights at the LAC.
The third challenge from China is autocracy. It will be up to India, the world’s biggest democracy to stop China from spreading its aggressive and autocratic wings.
A 5G alliance
In 2021, a 5G alliance also awaits India, a group that will stand opposed to reliance on Chinese technology.
The grouping is expected to include the world’s biggest democracies, India, Australia, South Korea, France, Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, the US and the UK.
Along with these countries, India will try to create an alternative pool of 5G equipment and technologies so that the world can boycott Chinese technology.
Regional stability and terrorism
Finally, India will also continue to work towards regional stability and anti-terrorism in 2021. New Delhi will also have to find a balance between putting its neighbourhood first and at the same time forming strategic alliances.
The vaccines might be here, but most of the world will not get it next year. Rich countries have secured 51 per cent of the supplies. The poor countries have fallen behind.
As per an estimate, the world needs 15 million doses, but COVAX, the global initiative for equitable access to immunisation has agreements in place to secure just around two billion doses.
Low-income countries might have to wait until 2023 or 2024 for vaccination and with the new strains and shortage of vaccine supplies, the world still needs lockdowns.