Wishing everyone a happy new year 2022 while reviewing the events of the year 2021. It started with President Trump’s supporters storming the citadel of American democracy. And the very slow pace of Covid vaccinations all over the world. The world is certainly in a better shape than it was at the beginning of the year.
Elon Musk is Time magazine’s person of the year. Founder of the electric car maker Tesla, Space X the private venture to send cargo and astronauts into space and reuse the first stage of the rocket, and Solar City which installs solar panels. Three successful businesses in three different technology spheres, I have immense respect for him.
Angela Merkel stepped down after 16 years as Chancellor of Germany. Regardless of some bad steps, she governed well and put Germany in a stronger position in Europe. Joe Biden took office as President in the US. Benjamin Nethanyahu lost his office after several close elections resulted in a hung parliament in Israel. Ebrahim Raisi became the President in Iran, he is widely considered to be a yes man to the hardliners. The US had a messy pull out of its troops from Afghanistan. The Taliban took over immediately and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
Supply chain bottlenecks and energy shortages have made recovering economies struggle. Leading to inflation all around. The cargo ship Ever Given blocked the Suez Canal for a week due to running aground. India managed to sell its troubled airline Air India to the Tata group, who started the airline in the early part of the twentieth century. In the midst of all the political bickering, the US congress managed to pass the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
Global warming played a spoiler sending serious warnings to the energy addicted humanity. A winter storm in Texas disrupted utilities leading to power and water shortage for several days.Flash floods in Europe and China and forest fires in Europe occurring with more frequency and intensity. On a positive note, carbon trading has started in China. Escooters are picking up in India with massive investments pouring in to creating the infrastructure for charging stations all across the country. The Glasgow summit to curb carbon emissions ended on an optimistic note.
UAE and China had sent in a spacecraft to orbit around Mars, while the US landed the Perseverance rover and a helicopter on Mars. The helicopter flew for the first time outside of Earth’s atmosphere. China landed a rover as well. Billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos went into space demonstrating private efforts to create space based tourism.
Parag Agrawal became the CEO of Twitter. Following the trail of Indian origin tech CEOs – Arvind Krishna at IBM, Satya Nadella at Microsoft, Sundar Pichai at Google. Is Amazon or Facebook next ? Indian lady Harnaaz Sandhu was crowned as Miss Universe. The tech giant Facebook went down for six hours and had an impact on global internet connectivity – particularly whatsapp for messages and phone calls which India is so much dependent on.
The leakage of Pandora papers revealed gory details of hidden money attributed to the likes of Vladimir Putin of Russia, King Hussein of Jordan and highlighted the role of South Dakota state in the US as a creator of infamous tax-avoidance trusts. The G20 nations came to an agreement on a minimum tax of 15% on big companies with a revenue of 750 million Euros or higher. And tax has to be paid where the income is earned, regardless of where the head office is located. At least some progress in casting the tax net wider effective 2023.
China has continued its belligerent ways, engaging India in Ladakh and Assam for months. While Russia is playing brinkmanship in Ukraine trying to prevent it from joining NATO by threatening to invade. The Quad alignment of Australia, India, US, and Japan is making progress to blunt the onslaught of China. The Russian cyber mafia is engaged in ransomware to extract payments in bitcoins from several western organizations. Colonial pipeline, a major company being one of its victims. US law enforcement was able to recover most of the ransom bitcoins which Colonial paid.
The Tokyo Olympics went well considering the pandemic times. The US won the largest number of medals. India came home with a record of 7 medals including a Gold for Neeraj Chopra for Javelin throw. This event was followed by the paralympics for the handicapped people. India came home with 19 medals. The first ever world cup test cricket was held and India lost to New Zealand in the final. The T20 world cup cricket postponed from 2020 went smoothly. India did not make it to the semi-final stage and Australia was the first time winner.
India’s highest award for movies, the Dadasaheb Phalke award was awarded to the southern superstar Rajnikant. India got hit badly by the second wave of covid 19 virus. But recovered with a renewed wave of vaccinations. Dholavira, a site of the ancient Indus valley civilization and Ramappa temple have been added to the list of World UNESCO heritage sites.
India’s ace veteran athlete Milkha Singh and veteran thespian Dilip Kumar died. Archbishop Desmond Tutu who fought apartheid and later headed the Truth and reconciliation commission, a friend of Nelson Mandela and Dalai Lama, a Nobel prize winner, died. Edward Wilson, an American naturalist who studied ants and espoused conservation, died.
There is still some way to go in terms of taming the pandemic, economies continue to limp back to normalcy, and American democracy continues to be in peril. Regardless, optimism is the magic word propelling us into 2022 and beyond.
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