Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Year 2021? Year of the Breath


Amidst the severe impact of the Coronavirus pandemic that has been ravaging humankind from various aspects for the last two years, if one thing that was making a buzz in our lives in the year 2021, it was the breathing. How? Read on…

The Chinese have something for every year. Dog, Monkey, Ox…whatever. As the year 2020 was the year of the Rat! Apropos, if were to designate something for India, what if in retrospect, for the year 2021? It could most likely be that the Year 2021, will be the Year of the Breath!

We started the year in India, as we start all new years, with resolutions and promises. Importantly with a sense that Coronavirus is well past us. However, the Coronavirus was lurking round the corner and at the top end of the year 2021 itself, millions were left literally gasping for Breath! Compared to the first wave of the Coronavirus, the second wave which hit India sometime in February 2021 itself, the gap between the need for Oxygen and the availability of Oxygen, was grievous. Amongst other requirements to take care of the dangerously galloping patients, the requirement and need for Oxygen was the most and Oxygen was the one most elusive. Breath, the humble Breath just wasn’t there.

The Year 2021 in fact, seems to have been the most productive year for Coronavirus, the virus of breathlessness, in a manner of speaking. The year saw Coronavirus give birth to its son, Delta in May 2021; who in turn gave birth to its son, Omnicron born on November 26th, 2021!

The Year 2021, truly the Year of the Breath centred truly around the Breath.



As the Coronavirus attacked our Breath, Yoga which could be termed simplistically as a wonderful set of Breathing Exercises, gained momentum. The 7th International Yoga Day on June 21st, 2021 saw a massive eighty-four Nations participating together, led by India. Yoga seems to have truly come of age. The connection between breathlessness, i.e., Coronavirus and Deep-Breathing, i.e., Yoga is yet to be established. Nevertheless. The second wave of the Pandemic that attacked our ability to breath and live, saw increased buzz around Yoga, which if nothing else, does help in strengthening our Respiratory Organs/System.

As we are forced to stay indoors, Yoga hardly needs any space or any equipment, is rapidly becoming the Fitness regimen of choice. Moreover, Stress and other Mental Health issues have been on the rise and Yoga with its proven healing powers for the Mind, has gained remarkable respect in the Year 2021.

electric vehicle coronavirus

Electric vehicles

Coronavirus has come ofage. In fact, 2021 saw it becoming a grandfather with the birth of its grandson, Omicron. Yoga too, came of age. Again, while the chatter around Electric Vehicles has been around for a long time now, the concept of Electric Vehicles – the mobile device for healthy breathing, as it were – too came of age in the year 2021. India now has well over twenty-five ElectricTwo-Wheeler Makers in the market.

In the first eleven months itself, the sales of electric two-wheelers crossed the magical 100,000 units mark! Commercial Vehicles Maker Ashok Leyland transferred its electric vehicles business to a new company, Switch Mobility, in a way signalling the world truly switching over to Electric Mobility! Arguably, the year 2021 has been the Year of the Electric Vehicles and so the Year of the Breath, too!

Apart from various measures to boost sales & adoption of Electric Vehicles, India saw three distinct Policy-level initiatives. Apart from the amendment of FAME II. Govt brought in PLI Scheme for Auto Sector and also the much-delayed-but-much-detailed Scrappage Policy.

Auto Industry, struck-marked by the exit of Ford, is still gasping for breath; thanks to Coronavirus and thanks to the severe shortage of chips. As the year 2021 ended, some whiff of fresh air wafted in with Govt’s serious attempt at giving a fillip to Chip manufacturing in India. Long way to go. But, something to breathe, nevertheless!

Emission Covid-19 Coronavirus

Air pollution

Efforts around Climate Change have been gaining momentum. Great Thunberg missed the Nobel Peace Prize 2021, by a whisker. However, United Nations and various other Entities have been rallying around efforts to have our Mother Earth breathe better Air! COP (Conference of the Parties) 26 along with the thrust on renewable energies and on Electric Vehicles has been striving to manage greenhouse gases emission or let us say, the Air we breathe. Along with Credit Cards, Credit Score Carbon Credits also became a buzzword in the Year 2021.

On the other hand, rampaging Air Pollution in Delhi-NCR and many other cities, which constitute a substantial part of India, size and population-wise, scaled new record highs. The last quarter of the Year 2021, truly stood by its title, as the Year of the Breath.

The November 2021 Air was the most polluted in the last six years! AQI levels in and around Delhi for November 2021 for instance averaged 377, versus 327 in the year 2020 and 312 in the year 2019! 18 monitoring stations in Delhi in fact, reported AQI of 500, the highest value of pollution measuring metric; with several private stations reporting an AQI of 999, indicating that pollution values had maxed out! Year of the ‘elusive’ Breath, indeed!

 In fact, as we entered the last week of the Year 2021, AQI brazenly entered the highest level, ‘Severe’ of the Air Quality Index for India!


The Year 2021 started with the second wave of Coronavirus literally snatching our breath away. The Year then saw the birth of Delta. The year 2021 has ended with the Virus of the non-breath welcoming its third generation to the world…the Omni-cron.

We do hope it is Omni only by name. That, we would have our Breath, fresh & pure, with us in the Year 2022.

Breath is almost like we even know if we are doing something. We take breath and such humble gifts of Life & Nature, for granted. A few minutes of breathlessness however and we are on the verge of losing life itself. The Year 2021, the Year of the Breath, must make us realise the importance, nay criticality, of a healthy respiratory system, of climate change, of technologies that are not just life-saving, but life-nurturing and simple & humble, fresh air.

Also Read: #hypevalue: Unreal valuation. Real hype.

(Sanjeev Shukla is a corporate strategy and marketing leader with three decades of experience with Hyundai, Hero MotoCorp, Ford and the advertising world.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Autofintechs.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)


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