I’ve been asked about my New Year resolutions… I don’t have any. I like to go with the flow… One day at a time. But yes, the dawn that breaks over the roof slates on the 1st morning, always gives me a sense of exhilaration. Hope hangs in the air as the burst of sunshine creeps over the houses.

Hope is an old friend of mine. Every time I thought she had given up on me, she would surprise me and show her friendly face again. She often reminds me that having her in my life is far better than giving up on her. I have nothing to lose by allowing hope to stay in my life even when it seems she has deserted me forever. It’s easy to lose hope when life grinds you down. I think we have all been there at some time in our lives. That dark place where it looks like life has got it in for you and is laughing at all your misfortune. Looking back though, I have the added insight of knowing that life eases up on you eventually, it always does.

This year, I have a lot of hopes for my country… I hope we vote wisely and I hope that those voted in power don’t misuse their office and responsibilities for their own political gains but work towards the betterment of the country as they should. India is in a constant state of flux with itself over what problems we have. In truth, our nation’s problems will probably never be solved in my life-time. However, that doesn’t mean that I can give up hope for the future. My children will someday inherit my possessions, my legacy, and in the grand scheme of things, the world I live in and share.

My hope for this country is that its people (citizens or not) realize that only by working together to solve problems can we improve our future. Following segregated agendas only segregates the community. Of the long list of hopes that I have for India, my most important is for people to respect themselves. If we learn to respect ourselves, we will respect our peers, neighbours, and the people around us. External appreciation begins with an internal appreciation of oneself.

I hope India will become a safer, more respectful and friendly country again. We’ve lost the sense of community in this ultra-independent era. If people were more connected and caring, if families were stronger, if we all valued people, we would see so many current problems disappear. That we must also remember that our freedom is precious; it is what our soldiers fight for and die protecting. It should never easily or willingly be surrendered for an illusion of safety.

I hope that more people take accountability for their choices in life and stop relying on others to solve their problems. This country is still the land of opportunity, but you may have to get out of your comfort zone to make a better life for yourself. I would love to see an end to the inequality between the haves and the have-nots. Too many have so little, while there are others who have enough to share. We need better health care for middle and lower class families. I think our current poor economy and health-care issues are going to take a negative toll on our children. I hope we don’t give up emotionally as a nation and we continue to work towards making things better for everyone.

While I realize this is a word that’s being thrown around a lot these days, I hope for change. That the elections will herald the start of a new era for us.

I long to see improvement in many aspects — there is corruption, unemployment, poor health facilities and a very low literacy rate! But I have not given up hope.

Education is the key to success. But our country lacks educated people — one major reason why we lag behind in many fields. Illiteracy eventually leads to unemployment and thus crime in society; of course when people will not get their basic needs fulfilled, they will try to get it the ‘wrong way’! In order to solve all these problems, we need to work together to build our country and for that the foremost requirement is to get rid of corrupt people. Once eligible and honest people replace the corrupt ones, the system of our country will automatically be on the right track.

Many of the greatest accomplishments of humankind have been achieved despite widespread scepticism. People have overcome the most pressing challenges with grit and determination. In most cases, it took someone — and in many cases, lots of people — believing there was another way and who kept trying until he or she or they made it happen.

I believe that each of us has the strength and courage within us to face challenges head-on and to create new opportunities, for ourselves and others. My hope is that you can see those qualities within yourself — and that your sense of possibility and your ability to persevere allow you to build the life of your dreams.

January brings with it much excitement. Pristine expectations and enthusiasm. The hard reality of expectation now lies across the threshold of each day. It is interesting how much we treasure beginnings. Those moments are full of potential, shiny with hope, and dressed in the clothes of great opportunities for the future. But there is a shadow.

The language of ‘new’ beginnings, or ‘fresh’ starts is used when expectations are unmet. Embedded in the language and experience is a tug of war between failure and success. Curiously, core expectations which are rarely named, never change. I have watched unnamed expectations defeat people as ‘new’ beginnings become deep disappointment.

To remain hopeful, to not become cynical and jaded, is fundamental to becoming a different story. And the world needs different stories; those that are radical, transformative, challenging and nurturing. To evolve the stories, we have to foster hope and expect great things. But we should also be open to outcomes we didn’t expect, may not have desired. We have to be willing to learn, regroup and hope again.