Another year comes to a close. 2014 has been a tumultuous year that had many defining moments. As I sit here, on the penultimate day of the year and contemplate I am overwhelmed with the events that happened this year. I recount some of them that, as per me, were unique and exposed the vulnerability of the world we live in. I risk sounding morose and pessimistic about the world we live in, however I’ll try also to highlight some joyous moments.
In March this year, MH370 the Malaysian Airlines was lost without a trace. The incident exposed the limits of our existing technology and left many questions unanswered. The mystery still remains. My heart goes out to the family members of the onboard passengers and crew members of the flight.
In March WHO reported an outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa that spread to several other African countries. By August it was identified as an international emergency. Thanks to the aid provided and tireless work by WHO workers, by December the virus outbreak seems to have been reigned in.
In May results of the Indian General Elections were announced and for the first time since 1984 a party won a clear majority on its own to form a Government. Also it was the first time since Independence that a non-Congress party has won the majority. With 31% vote share, BJP emerged as the winner by a distance and the grand old party of Congress was reduced to its lowest ever tally. Whether these results are to be rejoiced or frowned upon, only time will tell.
Unrest in Ukraine showed that the cold-war was not entirely over and the collateral damage was a Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 that was allegedly shot down by Russian backed rebels in July. There is still lot of mystery around this incident. Not sure what the Black Box revealed.
In August an unarmed black teenager was shot by a police officer in the city of Ferguson in USA. The jury didn’t find the police officer guilty and this resulted in widespread protests and riots. Also following this, few other incidents of the same nature surfaced exposing the possible underlying injustices in the American society.
India joined an elite league of countries after successfully getting a satellite (Mangalayan) into the Mars’ orbit. What was special about this achievement of Indian Space Research Organization was that, India became the first country to succeed in doing so in first attempt and also at a fraction of the cost compared to other countries.
September also saw protests breakout in Hong Kong against a ruling by China. The protests led by college students blocked many key arterial roads within the city. The protests called Umbrella Movement still continue unabated with violent clashes between police and protesters. China of course is busy blaming the ‘West’ in instigating these protests.
Rapes in India have been news since December 2012, Nirbhaya incident. 2014 saw repeated incidents of young kids being molested or sexually assaulted in schools. One such issue reported in October from a Bangalore school, blaringly exposed grey area that exists in what we consider to be an unstated and obvious responsibility of a School.
In October the city of Visakhapatnam was hit by Hudhud cyclone. All essential services were hit including water, electricity and telephone connection. Railway station and Airport both were severely damaged. The incident rudely pointed out how we still are at the mercy of nature. Of course, due to proactive efforts of the Government, human casualty was minimal and restoration activities were swift and effective helping restore normalcy as much as possible.
Finally sense seemed to have prevailed within the committee that awards Nobel Peace prize. When Pakistan and India were locked in frequent skirmishes along the border the committee decided to choose an Indian and a Pakistani to share the Nobel Peace Prize. The individuals stood in contrast on one aspect. The chosen Indian was unknown to most Indians and the chosen Pakistani was already an international celebrity. It showed that many unsung and unmentioned individuals were working tirelessly to make lives of people around us better and expecting almost nothing in return. I must mention Kailash Satyarthi gave a wonderful acceptance speech that I strongly recommend everyone to hear.
November 2014, Australian cricketer Phil Hughes succumbed to an injury sustained after he was hit by bouncer. The incident united the cricketing world like no other incident. Thoughts went out for both the family of Phil Hughes and the bowler who might take a long time to get over the incident and return to normal life
The worst seems to have been saved for the last. On December 15th a hostage situation was created in a café in central Sydney by a person of Iranian origin. The person brandishing a gun held up a flag written in Arabic. As per police reports, it’s special operation unit stormed into the café after hearing gunshots and finally shot down the gunman ending the hostage crisis. However two people lost their lives in the cross fire, one of them allegedly shot by the gunman.
Terror struck in a very inhuman and ugly way on December 16th when gunmen belonging to Taliban entered a school in Peshawar, Pakistan and indiscreetly fired at school children killing 160 and injuring many. A barbaric act that can’t be condemned enough. Taliban justified the act indicating that their kids are also getting killed the same way day in day out due to continued drone attacks. This incident has the power to change the Pakistani narrative permanently and their attitude towards Taliban.
On December 28th terror struck Bangalore when a low intensity bomb went off in the heart of the city killing a lady and injuring three others.
All three incidents above indicate how vulnerable we are to such attacks and yet how resilient to get up and move on after the incident is over. It’s the resiliency or even short term public memory that helps us get over such tragedies and overcome over fears.
When we thought we had enough in December there were reports of an AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing. This was lost without a trace. However unlike MH370 the wreckage was sighted confirming a crash and few bodies were recovered. Yet again the shortcoming in the technology used for tracking flights was severely exposed. At least the hope remains that the black box could be recovered and what led to the crash would be ascertained in the coming year, my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.
Another future defining incident of 2014 that is here to stay is the conflict in Syria and Iraq leading to the formation of a less understood but most spoken about phenomenon called ISIL or ISIS. The world is still trying to fathom the impact of ISIS. It has beheaded many western Aid workers and journalists and continues to actively recruit Muslims from both Islamic and non-Islamic countries. How serious a threat this would only become clearer in the coming months.
Quite a year it has been. In fact the ending of a calendar year creates a false impression of something ending and something new starting. Actually time and habits are not at the mercy of calendars, they transcend such imaginative barriers. No wonder resolutions fail more frequently than they succeed. If we think any of the incidents would not continue to influence our lives in the New Year and would magically get barricaded on the midnight of Dec 31st, are obviously victims of self-delusion. Unless the changes come about through deep introspection and are reinforced through repetition and favorable results for prolonged period of time, a mere change of calendar year won’t make the world any better place than what it is right now.