A New Year of Difference

Another year has gone by. An year that was beset with challenges and difficulties. An year in which the world witnessed incidents of horrifying proportions. An year of hope and optimism, the waves of which broke all territorial barriers empowering the masses to rise against the various socio-economic taboos. 2011 was about all this. The year saw a tumultuous global economy that made economic recovery extremely difficult. With the threat of a looming melt-down, various European nations have plunged into crisis.

Unemployment and poverty rate is at an all time high. To our consternation, take the case of Greece, where parents have been forced to abandon their babies on doorsteps and rubbish-bins. Children have been placed in charity homes and this particular incident has left me speechless: One toddler was left at the nursery she attended with a note that read: "I will not return to get Anna. I don't have any money, I can't bring her up. Sorry. Her mother."

Austerity measures introduced by various governments have done zilch to ease this. On a positive note, the BRICS (especially China) led the way in economic development and expansion surpassing the USA and the European Union. It was also the year when the peaceful nation of Norway came under a right-wing extremist attack, the deadliest since World War II. The al-Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden, responsible for the September 11 attacks, was killed by the US Special Forces in an operation that was code-named Operation Neptune Spear.

Nature too had its capricious run in 2011. The slew of hurricanes and a record 180 tornadoes in the USA, the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami in Japan that resulted in the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, the floods in Australia, Pakistan, Thailand and Philippines, the droughts in Somalia and Eastern Europe, the climbing global temperatures and the increasing seismic activity have all played havoc with human lives causing extensive destruction. Needless to say, these disasters have cost the world economy a colossal $350 billion.

Citing poverty, kleptocracy, sectarianism, corruption, human rights violation and authoritarian rule, there began a series of protests in the Middle-East and North Africa that we now call the Arab Spring. Though it started in Tunisia as early as Dec 18, 2010, the movement gained widespread purchase last year. This crusade of hope (still ongoing), galvanised by the use of social media like Facebook and Twitter, had its unprecedented impact across the world. That Morcco and Jordan have agreed to constitutional reforms in response to these demonstrations shows the success this movement has achieved. In a stunning recognition of their efforts, the Time magazine recently chose 'The Protester' as its Person of the Year.

It has since then spread to several other countries, particularly leading to the Occupy Protests in 950 cities across 82 countries, including the USA. Furthermore, India had its second freedom struggle, the (continuing) struggle for a strong Lokpal, an anti-corruption bill that promises to effectively tackle corruption, grievance redressal among others.

The world of technology lost the iConic Steve Jobs, an erratic genius who made a lasting impact in the consumer-electronics market. Being the man who was single-handedly responsible for reviving Apple from near bankruptcy to the world's second most valuable company, the iPod, iPhone and iPad have ever since reshaped music, telephony and computing. Google's Android is also making steady inroads in the market, eating into the share of RIM and Nokia.

So you see, 2012 will be an year of paramount significance. The year that is most likely to transform global economy; an year that will bring the struggles the people have undertaken and endured to fruition. Hope this new year ushers an era of peace, contentment and prosperity to one and all. And, more than anything, I wish for a world without prejudice and hatred, without religious intolerance and the violation of human rights, without the continued efforts of those in power to divide and separate us. The world could be a great place, and let's hope that 2012 brings us a step closer to that as a reality. -Roger Jon Ellory