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Home / News / India /  2022 preview: India at 75, state polls, climate change

The new year is here, and we have plenty of events, trends and numbers to look forward to in 2022. In the second of our two-part series, we look at India’s 75th year of Independence, upcoming state polls, and the Commonwealth Games among others. Read the first part of this series here. We will resume our weekly data preview next Monday.

1. India at 75

Later this year, India completes the 75th year of its independence from British rule. Written off by many at the time of its birth, the country has made slow but steady strides towards development and poverty alleviation. If the 1950s and 1960s were the decades of green revolution, the 1980s saw the birth of India’s famed information technology sector. Economic reforms in 1991 changed the country’s destiny and put it on a high-growth track for a long time.

But India’s story is far from complete. If the 1991 reforms addressed the supply side, the country must focus the next few decades on addressing demand-side issues. Despite massive poverty reduction, India also faces income inequities and persistent corruption, along with slowing growth and lax action on land, agriculture, health and education reforms. As these facets improve, India must also protect itself from the social consequences of an increasingly communal politics so that its reputation as a diverse, harmonious democracy stays intact.

2. State elections

This year’s round of Assembly elections—due in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur—holds special significance coming halfway through Narendra Modi’s second term. Uttar Pradesh in particular, being the state that sends the most Lok Sabha MPs, will be key in shaping the outlook for the 2024 general elections. No wonder then, the political mercury is already on the rise, with politicians changing party cards and schemes and promises being announced in poll-bound states.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is the incumbent in four of these states, but is no longer as invincible in Assembly elections as it has been in general elections. Yet, its shrewd post-election strategy has kept it in power in most states, Goa and Manipur being cases in point. How well other parties succeed in countering the BJP’s force will set the tone for 2024. There will be particular interest in the Aam Aadmi Party, which is hoping to make a debut in Punjab and Goa.

3. Unicorn boom

2021 proved to be a stellar year for startups in India. Unicorns, or unlisted companies with a valuation of $1 billion or more, are no longer elusive. As of mid-December, 44 startups achieved unicorn status in 2021, higher than the total number of unicorns seen during 2011-20. India now has the third highest number of unicorns, only behind that in the US and China.

For the last few years, India’s digital startup ecosystem has been largely fuelled by three factors: wider and cheaper access to smartphones and data, arrival of young and confident entrepreneurs willing to take more risks, and easier access to global private capital. The last factor was even more pronounced in 2021 owing to loose monetary policies in the US and Europe. India may witness some capital pullback in 2022 if the US Federal Reserve hikes key interest rates. However, the other two factors may still be dominant enough to limit any such adverse impact for Indian startups, analysts said.

4. Climate change

After stepping up their climate ambitions at COP26, world leaders will assemble again this year for COP27 in Egypt to mobilize climate action. But fast-incoming research data shows the world has a long way to go to mitigate the effects of climate change. One of the most recent studies is from the Met Office in the UK which predicts that 2022 will be one of the warmest years on record. The average global temperature is predicted to be 1.09 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels, the report said. While temperatures are projected to be slightly lower than in some previous years, it will be the eighth year in a row that they will be more than one degree above pre-industrial levels. Another study in the journal Scientific Reports found that Himalayan glaciers have shrunk 10 times faster in the last four decades than they did in the previous seven centuries. If climate change mitigation stays sloppy, the consequences could be disastrous.

5. Commonwealth Games

After an impressive performance at the Tokyo Olympics, India is set to participate in the next big event: 2022 Commonwealth Games from 28 July to 8 August in Birmingham, England. India has had a successful run at the Commonwealth Games, reaching a peak of 101 medals in 2010 when it was held in Delhi. While India failed to keep up the performance in the subsequent tournaments, the country still managed to secure the fifth and third rank in 2014 and 2018, respectively.

All eyes will especially be on the Indian hockey team, which scripted history at the Tokyo Olympics last year. The men’s hockey team brought the bronze medal, while the women’s team finished fourth. At past Commonwealth Games, the men’s team has won two silver medals, while the women have won one gold and one silver. Apart from hockey, hopes are also high from shooting, weightlifting, and wrestling, where India had clutched several medals in the past games.

 

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