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It was a long year. A year that caught us and many by surprise, a year many are feeling glad it is over.  Yes, 2020 is finally over.

Welcome 2021!

There were no celebrations to welcome the new year. We stayed home on the eve, and for once, for many, with families as they waited for the clock to strike midnight. We are in 2021 looking forward to a new beginning, hoping for the best.

When we look back, what comes first to mind is the disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Children saw schools close on the second day, adults had their professional life disrupted, the economy was hit hard, and therefore,  loss of income and livelihood for many. It was a year of having to stay away from families, spending weeks in quarantine and bearing lockdowns.

While the general feeling is that the year gone by was good riddance, there were so many lessons 2020 taught us that we could take into the new year and beyond.

Covid-19 was a pandemic that threatened the human race. We were better at fighting it. It taught us about leadership in times of crisis. It taught us about the strength of our collective effort, about the advantages of our smallness and togetherness.

We saw how we can control a pandemic with the right leadership,  right strategy and the right mindset of the people. We are more prepared and ready to face a third or a fourth lockdown and future crisis, health or otherwise.

2020 made us better.

If the year gone by is remembered for the pandemic, we should not forget the opportunities it presented to us. While we prevented a catastrophe, it opened our eyes and reminded us of our priorities.

As the border gates closed and the economy came to a standstill, we were seriously looking at diversification of our economy, we relooked at the tourism policy, the labour market, streamlining of governance and adopting technology that many always thought was too difficult to adapt. The agriculture sector received much-deserved attention as the pandemic exposed our dependence on imported food.

2020, in many ways, was the turning point. It forced many of us to change our outlook. As many were forced to work remotely, we leveraged technology. We are conducting important meetings and conferences from homes, which once was impossible without a star-rated hotel or travelling to a different dzongkhag or country.

The rhetoric of e-services and e-governance suddenly became a reality and is improving every time there is a lockdown. We should keep up the momentum in the new year and beyond, with or without a pandemic.

Meanwhile, what we have to be mindful of as we welcome the new year is that it is only the digit that changed. The problems will remain. There is a new variant of the virus spreading and spreading fast. But we know the way ahead.

2020 showed us our potential. We learnt our lessons, grown and sailed together through the year just gone by. Collectively we can fight a second or third wave, as we wait for a vaccine to protect all Bhutanese from the global pandemic.

If we are to make a resolution for the new year, staying in the fight together would be the most fruitful one. We can start with wearing face masks, keeping distance and cooperating with authorities and those on the frontlines.

This day next year, we will celebrate a successful year.

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