The century will be infamously remembered for the 2 devastating wars….Russia-Ukraine & Israel– Hamas. Their ripple effects have been game changing for the world both geopolitically & geoeconomically. Energy & food security and its weaponization, dedollarization, terrorism, wars are factors that have reshaped the world dynamics in the last 2 years.
Time is all powerful. It is said to be a healer, and so I believe. It’s never possible to talk of all what happened in the fleeting year in this small space but amplifying what have become memories will surely play some small role in glorifying them in the pages of history.
As I pen down my year roundup, everything blurs in before the humanitarian crisis unfolding with the war in West Asia. On the very Christmas eve Israel carried out the deadliest of attacks on the refugee camps killing 100 people. It’s nothing but a massacre carrying on for the last 3 months. As the world celebrates the new year this part of humanity is crying, weeping over the loss of their loved ones, running to save their lives amidst the disaster and destruction spread around them. It’s hell broken loose there. With the rest of the world reduced to spectators, with a few failed efforts against the adamancy of the Israeli PM Netanyahu, the conflict is dangerously engulfing the entire West Asian region. Every day is an evolving condition, each day the conflict has a new development.
The century will be infamously remembered for the 2 devastating wars….Russia-Ukraine & Israel- Hamas. Their ripple effects have been game changing for the world both geopolitically & geoeconomically. Energy & food security and its weaponization, dedollarization, terrorism, wars are factors that have reshaped the world dynamics in the last 2 years.
Domestically, Indians had their share of moments of pride and also of misfortunes. I am not a pessimist but human sufferings do tend to disturb and take precedence. Manipur was in flames and human rights were violated, on the other hand India successfully landed on the Moon. Sadly, our women wrestlers protested for days against a predator public representative to finally see themselves only resigning from a bright career which any sportsperson takes years and endless hard work to build. They were so helpless that they decided to give up their medals and awards. That for ‘respect of women’ and games.
The recently concluded assembly elections in 4 states were an equal shocker. Much to the surprise of Congress and psephologists BJP won the 3 main Hindi belt states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh having only lost in Telangana in the South. These 3 states hold the key to 2024 general elections that have now sealed BJP’s incumbency at the national level next year as India goes to polls.
Delhi had its fair share of limelight as pollution like every season broke a record high with AQI touching 400+. Living a healthy life is a huge ask in these modern times when with all the technological advances stubble burning the conventional way isn’t going anywhere. Sprinklers or no sprinklers.
Speaking of tech, ChatGPT and AI were the new discovery and challenges too. AI is a two-edged sword that stands to benefit as well as put mankind to severe threats and disadvantages. Humans can be replaced with AI involving much lesser cost. As the threats are equally serious in nature the world is finding ways and laws to regulate its free and uncontrolled effects.
What we need to seriously worry is Climate Change. Much touted at various international fora and matter of global discourse it’s more of lip service detached from tangible outputs. Paradoxically, the developed countries that are responsible for the climate crisis unfolding in the underdeveloped and developing countries that are bearing the brunt of drastic climate downside like floods, torrential rains, quakes, droughts and acute temperature fluctuations. Wonder if it’s now late enough to reverse the change nature is manifesting.
It was India’s moment with G20 this year. New Delhi hosted the mega event and delivered a successful G20 Joint Statement with full consensus of all countries and inclusion of Africa in the group. The clout of India was on display when US President along with his European and Gulf countries counterparts displayed exceptional bonhomie. G20 was also an opportunity to give a major infrastructural boost to the country as various other meetings were held in different states showcasing their culture and boosting tourism too.
How did India fare on the world stage! The last months have seen some tensions between India –Canada and India- US relations relating to the cases of the alleged killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil and a plan to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on US soil. Canada -India relations saw a setback with dismissing additional diplomats that took a hit on the consular services of both countries. With China, 15 rounds of border talks haven’t yielded any result and China refuses to retreat from occupied Indian territory, although trade continues to flourish between both the countries.
India’s relations with its neighbors have seen ups and downs. Sri Lanka was visited by Chinese Research Ship with India resisting. New Delhi was visited by Bangladesh, Nepal Prime Ministers. With a pro-China govt in Maldives, Indian troops have been ordered to leave Male that has the possibility of India – Maldives relations growing sour. With political unrest in Myanmar how will India respond will be seen particularly with the problem of refugee influx from Myanmar into Indian border states staring in our face. Bhutan has approved building a 1000 km border village at its border with India that will facilitate a buffer with India countering China. In Pakistan, with the return of Nawaz Shariff and likelihood of his being the economically battered country’s next leader, the future might hold some glimpse of better times. Afghanistan having the Taliban in power and its embassy in India not formally functional as such, despite Taliban sources claiming normalcy, we wonder if Indian government’s stand on recognizing the terror outfit will see any change in 2024.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy officials languishing in Qatar jails have got a little respite with their death sentence being commuted to life imprisonment. Expecting a pardon from the Qatari Emir, a usual practice of pardoning prisoners on Qatar’s National Day, the families of these officials are waiting in hope. It’s a test of India’s clout and PM Modi’s personal capital with the Gulf’s richest nation’s leader. I am sure we are not asking for too much.
It would be amiss if the state of Press is not mentioned here. The fourth pillar of democracy, the vigil keepers, the messengers, as they are called, have had their share of rough rubbings with the govt. 2023 saw journalists being rounded up, harassed, threatened, killed and the news organizations raided, access to Parliament curtailed for reporting facts and ground reality. Newsclick being one of the targets to be silenced, its Editor still is behind bars, their computers, digital gadgets and cameras confiscated and charges fabricated against them. The takeover of major media houses by corporate has changed media landscape totally. Mass job losses, contractual working and the sword of recently passed 3 criminal bills has announced the death knell of press freedom. Wonder how long will the few independent digital platforms or journalists survive, come 2024 elections. The G model says use media for winning elections and dump them once you are there.
A few months to go for General Elections 2024 and the stage is set for India to witness a mega event of the inauguration of the magnificent Ram temple at Ayodhya. This will set the agenda for 2024 elections. With the BJP win in the 3 Hindi heartland states its already half work done. The numbers will decide the power of the opposition and other parties that have come together to fight BJP and its Hindutva agenda in 2024.
Right now, people need employment, poverty alleviation, respite from inflation, jobs and social security. Hope, the year 2024 brings in the much-needed balm. Let’s be the change makers.
(The author is a Journalist / Blogger / Travel enthusiast)