New Year 2022: Where idealism meets inevitability

happy new year 2022
New Year 2022 will be one of large upheavals and inequality. But it will also see collective efforts to ensure that no one is left behind.

The year 2021 witnessed unprecedented human suffering. The Covid-19 pandemic unleashed death and destruction unseen in the post World War II period. Humanity is approaching New Year 2022 with hope and fear. The climate change debate seems to have done the unthinkable — a convergence of economic and ethical concepts of an ideal future. The year 2022 will have multiple pivots — economic, environmental, political, social, and personal. Many surprises await an already confused world. Let us prepare for the exhilarating ride.

Economic pivot

The Union Budget will redirect resources to education and health. Focus will shift to rural areas in these interventions as vaccinations at scale, hospitalisations and the enhancement of innate immunity take centre stage. Enabling every child to receive digital education through an available device will become a priority for the Union and state governments. NGO efforts in this direction will also scale to unprecedented levels. Plans are already afoot to encourage giving at scale as the community realises that no one can be left behind.

Resources will be garnered from voluntary tax compliance, strict sanctions for evasion, corporatisation and selective disinvestment, information leverage and sharing, digitalisation, and smart arrears collection as litigation is resolved at speed. Encouragement for private investment and a commitment to state capital investment at a much larger scale will be visible. Global investment will be encouraged and ease of doing business will improve.

Three thrust areas will be energy transition, electric vehicles, and circular economy constructs.

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Environmental pivot

Focus will be on better management of climate change and extreme climate events like forest fires, floods, cyclones, super melts, heat waves, and cold waves. The impact of decarbonisation will be better measured and the world will become acutely aware of the dangers of overheating the planet. We expect a sincere strategic effort to build carbon footprint reduction into plans at country, corporate, and individual levels in New Year 2022.

The consciousness about responsible consumption will rise and we will see many corporates pivoting to this notion in public statements and tangible action. Digitalisation will continue at a furious pace to deliver visible and reportable results. Frameworks and standards will emerge at a rapid pace and adoption will gallop as many cleantech and consulting firms get their act together. This will be a year of massive innovation and gearing up to getting rated on ESG criteria.

Thrust areas will be rapid adoption of ESG pathways, rush for enhancing ratings, and serious investments in cleantech.

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Political pivots

Election results in 2022 will throw up many surprises. Our prediction is that majorities will get established allowing for a strong opposition to coexist. Leadership of a bold and energetic character will emerge as the biggest surprise. Candidate selection will be informed by data transparency and analytics, which are gaining great relevance. A power shift will arise as transparency and e-governance get established at scale.

The example set by UAE will be replicated rapidly as the citizen benefits become apparent. India will have a fresh health and education stack as investments in these areas will scale up. Land record digitisation will take off in India. Accountability will be demanded at an increasing rate which will transform citizen-centred reporting. Agencies to track outcomes will be active like never before. Comparative performance analytics will rule the roost.

Thrust areas will be e-governance, outcome analytics, and thin, accountable majorities.

Social pivots

Collaboration will increase suddenly and dramatically. The community will realise that unless we are all in this together, the big changes we need will not happen. The human race has to plan together to get out of the Anthropocene era and pivot to a carbon-free, water-positive and methane-free era of clean manufacture and responsible consumption. This will require a true sensitivity to diversity, inclusion and equity issues with a deep respect for human rights.

The shareholder value enhancement objective will give way to harmonising the interests of all stakeholders, leading to genuine purposeful governance. As interconnectedness is experienced at a deeper level, the very definition of appropriate democratic governance will change. We will learn to deeply respect safety and develop a culture of respect for all humans without any power games or discrimination and ensure that a new culture emerges in the work place.

As jobs give way to decent, entrepreneurial work, cooperation and consideration for the entire value chain will emerge. Monumental change in mindsets and behaviour will happen with the social pivots that will begin next year. The background has been created; change will follow.

Thrust areas will be cohesion, mindset change, and altered culture of respect and gratitude.

Personal pivots in New Year 2022

Individuals will realise the need for self-discipline and a conservative approach to savings. The pandemic has warned us that change is likely to be sudden and dramatic and that consequences are unpredictable. Self-help by way of masking, distancing, hygiene, telemedicine, diagnostics, continuous monitoring, enhancing innate immunity, better eating and sleeping habits and regular yoga or other regimen will emerge at scale.

New Year 2022 will experience a larger emphasis on fitness, sports and entertainment of a healthy variety. The large changes that an entrepreneurial set of activities demand will drive new habits and cultural interfaces. The institutions we are familiar with will take on fresh and subtle form changes and transform. Particularly massive change will emerge in global institutions like the UN, WHO and WTO.

Thrust areas will be focus on habit and behaviour change, wearables and experimentation with new technologies.

We see exponential technologies converging at a never-before pace. As information, nano and bio technologies merge and interact, the first glimpses of a new singularity will become visible. Those who embrace these changes will pivot and brace for the changed direction.

Relearning, unlearning and transformation will be essential to cope. The more aggressive change agents will win. Inevitably, there will be a large upheaval that may leave some behind. Our collective effort should be to build the new era together, leaving no one behind.

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Shailesh Haribhakti is a Chartered and Cost Accountant, an internal auditor and a certified financial planner. He is a board chairman, audit committee chair and independent director at some of the country's most preeminent organisations. He is a thought leader on the Indian economy and public policy.