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2020 in review

Wish you all a happy and a prosperous new year 2021. I want to review the events of the past year 2020. I jot the events down as the year is progressing. I might have missed some events and consider some events more important than others. Most would say that 2020 was the most forgettable year in recent times. Mainly due to the immobilization of humanity arising out of the Covid 19 pandemic, and the consequent tanking of the economies all over the world. With the dawn of the vaccine, 2021 promises to be the antithesis of 2020.

In politics, Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump for the US Presidency. Trump was denied a second term but performed strongly among his base, which fell short of a wider national base.  He refused to concede.  His wild allegations of voter fraud were stuck down strongly by the courts. Biden and Vice President elect Kamala Harris made it to the cover of the Time magazine as the persons of the year. In Bihar, Prime Minister Modi turned in a strong performance to capture power. Teenage whiz kid Gitanjali Rao became the Time magazine’s kid of the year. An inventor who coaches and inspires thousands of other kids.  My salute to this wonder kid.

Some exciting news from the world of science and technology. As much as Covid 19 caused havoc, the scientists world over raced to produce a vaccine in record setting time using a brand new technology called mRNA (let us not worry about its technical name). The Nobel prize in medicine was awarded for the discovery of a genetic scissor called CRISPR (again, let us not worry about the technical name) which leads to editing of genes  using cut, copy and paste functions. One day, it will be curing the most deadly diseases in the world. Chinese spacecraft  Chang’e 5 went to the moon and scooped up some soil and rocks came back to Earth. Similarly, a Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 in a multi-year mission, traveled millions of miles to the asteroid Ryugu and returned back with samples from its surface. Private sector aerospace company SpaceX flew its spacecraft “Crew Dragon” taking 2 astronauts to the International Space Station, a first from the American soil after shuttles were retired in 2011. They splashed down safely after 2 months in space. Ed Catmull and Pat Hanrahan won the Turing award  (given for achievements in computer science) for the invention of computer graphics which led to totally digital movies like “Toy Story”. All the special effects we have in the movies are a result. Arvind Krishna became CEO of IBM. He joins Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google as persons of Indian origin to head major global technology companies. My salute to these tech heads.

Israel normalized relations with UAE, Morocco and Bahrain aided by President Trump. Saudi Arabia abolished flogging as punishment, although stoning to death and cutting of the limbs, used very sparingly, are still on the books.

India opened up space business to the private sector, freeing up ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) to do research and execute manned space flights.  Agricultural reforms have been passed to create a national market for the produce, cutting out the middleman, and help Corporations get into consolidating farms to achieve economies of scale. The politically motivated farmers agitation, inspired by vested interests,  is still going on. Andaman and Nicobar islands  got a submarine optical cable and internet connectivity as a result. The islands are expected to serve as a transhipment hub and also promote tourism. Labor laws have been reduced to just four, to enable hiring and firing. The unorganized sector is being brought into the mainstream. Reliance Jio is turning out to be a major internet platform like WeChat in China.

Identity politics notwithstanding, a lot of progress has been made on the infrastructure front in India. And a long way to go but nevertheless promising. Railways did a lot of maintenance during the pandemic downtime of near zero traffic. Dedicated rail freight corridors along major routes are coming up well. Expressways are getting built at a record pace, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. North East once isolated is now getting connected to rest of the country. Gigawatts of solar and wind energy have been added to the power grid. While the US is like a grown up man, matured in some ways, errant in some others, it is good to see the teenager called India growing up really well. I am a well wisher of both the countries.

The world of sports was majorly disrupted. Many major events like the Tokyo Olympics and the T20 world cup cricket in Australia were postponed. Just before the lock down, the under 19 world cup cricket was held, which Bangladesh won defeating India. It was a disappointment for me, but is good news for this Asian nation which has been making rapid strides in the game.

While in the prior years Pakistan was in the news trying to infilter terrorists into India, this year it was the turn of China. They played dirty wargames in the standoff in Eastern Ladakh. The intense activity of road building by China in the border areas, was matched by India. The French fighter jets Rafale joined India’s defenses. They will be a formidable weapon against the combative neighbors to the North.

US drug company Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy due to its involvement in the Opioid crisis in which tons of painkiller Oxycontin were prescribed by complicit doctors in a saga of corporate greed. Resulting in deaths of thousands of people. They just got buried in lawsuits, a result of bad karma.

Three thousand tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded in Beirut harbor causing extensive damage to the port of a very ravaged country. Wildfires in Australia were another major disaster during the year. George Floyd’s death by Minneapolis police caused intense reactions worldwide against racism and usage of excessive police force.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, longest serving Arab leader of Oman, used the oil wealth effectively towards the country’s development, worked with diverse countries such as Iran, Israel, US and Syria to do a political balancing act, died. Ace basketball player Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash. Also passed away Hindustani classical virtuoso Pandit Jasraj, playback singer SP Balasubramaniam, thespians Rishi Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput, Sean Connery, and Irfan Khan, ex Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, and Argentinian soccer star Maradona.

In 2021, I foresee vaccination of a major chunk of the global population against covid 19, recovery of the economies, return of some normalcy in the form of human mobility. But we need to pay heed to the lessons learnt and cannot pretend that nothing happened. Be on the lookout for viruses, keep the research into vaccines going, diversify manufacturing and supply chains away from China. Above all, have a sense of gratitude for whatever we have in life.

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Prasad Ganti

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Suresh Rao
Suresh Rao
1 year ago

Good coverage of key news of 2020 around the world. Happy New Year Prasadji.

Navneet Bakshi
Navneet Bakshi
1 year ago

Excellent summing up. They say brevity is the soul of wit and it shows remarkably on some 🙂 I started writing my own summing up of the year round news without knowing nothing and started filling up the article with platitudes and a sort of jamboree of nonsense, but I got lost as always in my harangues. It is still there lying somewhere in my files- forgotten and incomplete like many of its brethren. Maybe someday, it will get completed and posted here or maybe it will be dumped for good.

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