2020 flowed into 2021 with a continued air of uncertainty due to the unrelenting spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The third wave saw cases and deaths rise exponentially, taking the country’s healthcare sector to the brink of collapse. The army administered vaccine drive began in earnest during the latter part of the year, with vaccinations for those below 30 beginning in September. 2021 also saw the culture of militarisation, impunity and authoritarianism being firmly entrenched in the post 20th Amendment political system. Another highly questionable Presidential pardon was granted to a political ally while crackdown on dissent in both the online and offline environments intensified. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ill-advised, overnight ban on chemical fertilizers severely affected the country’s harvesting seasons and patterns, pushing the country into a food crisis. The Central Bank, struggling with the looming foreign exchange crisis, printed a record Rs. 213 billion in a single day. The burning of the X-Press Pearl off the coast of Colombo, continued deforestation around the Sinharaja rainforest and the re-enabling of the elephant slave trade accelerated environmental and climate concerns.
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