To many, the year gone by was a bad year. Natural disasters took their toll - the earthquakes in Japan & New Zealand, the floods in Thailand, Brazil and the Philippines, Irene slapped the US earlier in the year, and just as the year was slipping by, Thane kicked Tamil Nadu. Unemployment remained rampant in the developed world ; there is nothing more demoralising than losing your job and not having a hope of getting another one. Large parts of Europe are in crisis. Austerity measures are hurting badly, especially in Greece, and now Italy. Inflation has hurt people in China and India and growth slowing down in both countries is ominous. The Arab world had a new spring, but winter seems to have set in somewhat prematurely. You could be forgiven for ushering in the new year in a somewhat sombre mood.
But there is every reason to look forward with hope. Adversity often brings the best in man. We can find strength that we did not even know we possessed. The Euro zone will hold together and the crisis will pass. Belt tightening will be required, but with courage and fortitude, there will be less suffering. Joblessness in the developed world will start to reduce as a slow recovery happens . There is no better a mood lifter than getting and holding a job. Inflation will ease in India and China - signs are there already and more and more people can lift themselves out of poverty. An encouraging part of the world is Africa. Long abandoned as a basket case, many countries are showing good growth and the Asian achievement of lifting people out of poverty is slowly, but surely, being replicated in Africa.
The year ahead is going to see significant elections in France and the US and a generation change in leadership in China. Each one of these is going to be momentous - none more so than the change looming in China where for the first time, such a change is going to happen without a strongman like Mao or Deng lording over it. Perhaps a leadership change might happen in India too.
We can look forward to 2012 with hope. I am surmising that the worst is over economically. The upturn might be slow, but upturn it is going to be. We can do much better this year and when the time comes to ring out the year, we can be in a much more cherful mood than we are today. Yes , we can.