Is the world celebrating the new year in a vacuum?

The pre-conditions for the wishes on the eve of 2023  for peace and harmony to be realized is that the battle for the future has to be fought and won in the minds and hearts of the people.

N S Venkataraman Dec 30, 2022
Representational Photo

The dawn of the year 2023  will be celebrated by people all over the world welcoming the year with bright illumination, bursting of firecrackers and exchange of good wishes, with soothsayers and astrologers predicting the events in the forthcoming year and leaders of various governments across the world  greeting the people promising an era of peace and prosperity. Of course, prayers are also offered in religious centres seeking prosperity and happy conditions.

Events in the past several years show that such celebrations and wishes on new year's eve have not been followed by the dawb of an era of peace and harmony, but the world continued to be strife-torn with conflicts and animosity between nations and individuals remaining undiminished.

Of course, in the year 2023, there would continue to be spectacular achievements in the field of science and technology with a greater reach in communication facilities and in a variety of other fields. However, what is unlikely to change is the mindset of people.  It appears that violence and self-centredness in the hearts of men and women all over the world would remain at the same level.  This is the experience of mankind over several past decades.

The year 2023 will continue to be confronted, like the previous years,  with several challenges and issues like global warming and climate change, terrorist attacks, conflicts between nations,  atrocities against women, and so on.

Climate challenge 

COP 27, a global meeting to discuss and deliberate on the global climate threat has concluded in Egypt,  after animated discussions and after passing paper resolutions, with   COP 27  ending no better than COP 26 earlier.

The fundamental issues posing climate challenges like the need to eliminate fossil fuels do not look like happening any time soon. Oil-rich countries do not want to stop the production of crude oil and natural gas and coal-rich countries do not want to reduce the production of coal.  All promises made in COP 27 look like going for a toss.

Russia-Ukraine war

Russia Ukraine war is now going on for nearly ten months now, with Russia attacking Ukraine, destroying infrastructure, killing innocent people in Ukraine mercilessly, and forcing millions of citizens of Ukraine to run out of Ukraine as refugees.

It is a war taking place on Ukraine's territory and not on the territory of Russia, leaving no one in doubt that Russia is the aggressor and Ukraine is only a defender.

With USA and NATO countries supplying arms and ammunition to Ukraine to defend itself and making no real efforts to end the war, and  Russia absolutely not concerned about the world opinion against its aggression, and the United Nations simply discussing and watching the scenario helplessly, it is obvious that the objective of world peace remains a far cry.

Certainly, the year 2023 would continue to be war-torn in one part of the world or the other.

Terrorist and violence

Terrorist attacks are continuing to take place in different countries, almost every day due to one reason or the other.

Apart from terrorist attacks due to political reasons, what is known as Islamist terrorism is a grave concern, with people being killed by terrorists due to religious fanaticism.  As yet, it appears that terrorists across the world continue to have a field day.

The frequent shooting down of innocent people in public places in the USA and other countries,  for no apparent reason except due to blind hatred of the shooter, only highlights the fact that violence is firmly rooted in the mindset of several individuals and there is no indication that such mindset would be reformed.

Atrocities against women 

While it is claimed that the world is forging ahead due to technological developments, such developments seem to have no impact in modernizing the thoughts of certain religious heads and extremists in some countries.

The suppression of women and denial of rights of women,  as a matter of policy,  particularly by governments in Iran and Afghanistan, and a few Islamic countries, clearly point to the fact that prejudice of men against women continues to prevail in some parts of the world.

 While the atrocities against women and restrictions imposed on the lives of women have shocked many people, nothing could be done to stop such atrocities.  The women in such countries continue to suffer,  with people in other parts of the world watching the scenario helplessly.

Poverty issue

Deep poverty continues to prevail in several African and Asian countries, with no hope that the conditions there would improve anytime soon. Developed countries which are in much better positions and have adequate resources, have not come forward to help the poor countries to overcome these poverty conditions in a significant way.

On the other hand, it is often alleged that advanced countries and multinational companies based in developed countries exploit these poor African nations by exploiting their vast mineral and natural resources.

There have been deep atrocities committed by one nation - like China against Tibetans and against its Uighur minority - but they are not held to account. 

This indicates that might is right philosophy has been prevailing in the world for several decades. There is no indication that this outlook will change in the foreseeable future.

Small groups of good people 

The fact is that there are still small and isolated groups of people in the world who want to promote compassion, peace, and love but these groups are too few and far between and really have no significant impact on world conditions.

There are great philosophers who try to explain the essence of life and the futility of war and hate feelings. But, their preachings also seem to be ending up as mere listening posts.

Is the world celebrating the new year in a vacuum?

Now, what is the hope and where does the world go from here?

With the thought process and mindset of people in the world not having changed over several decades and wars and conflicts and self-centredness becoming part of the global norm among countries and people, should one conclude that the wishes and greetings for the new year hold little significance?

The pre-conditions for the wishes on the eve of 2023  for peace and harmony to be realized is that the battle for the future has to be fought and won in the minds and hearts of the people.  

(The writer is a Trustee, of NGO Nandini Voice for the Deprived, Chennai and a policy commentator. Views are personal. He can be reached at

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