Donald Trump is POTUS
It was supposed to be Hillary’s seat to lose. She had waited for eight years and given the other contenders, most seemed to think the seat was hers. Boy! Were we wrong?
Enter Donald Trump. Initially, it felt like it was a joke. Then he defeated 16 Republican contenders to become the party nominee. He wasn’t even Republican until recently and identified as a Democrat for several years. He has managed to be an equal opportunity offender - be it members of his party or others, women and minorities, political establishments, global relationships, etc. He also went against every established rule - from not releasing his taxes to making the lack of political correctness a virtue.
A lot of soul searching has taken place centered on how he won and how she lost. There was also the dissection of roles played by mainstream papers and pundits (who couldn’t see this coming), the social media (and related fake news), the FBI case with the email server and of course Russia (and the hacking accusation).
In the end, it boiled down to this: he had a simple message and executed a wild strategy that resonated with people who were tired of the establishment. Hillary, for all her strengths and experiences, couldn’t make bite-sized messaging stick. Her unpopularity and lack of trust are what lost the election more than Trump winning it.
For those that hoped that the election cycle drama would give way to a more measured and presidential Trump, the past few weeks have shattered those optimistic scenarios. India certainly will wait and see what the country’s relationship will be - especially after a controversial phone call with Pakistan’s Prime Minster.
Britain votes to leave the European Union (Brexit)
Brexit was the first major election shock in 2016 and a precursor to the head scratching caused by the US elections.
In June, Britain voted to leave the European Union and the 28-nation bloc. The decision - decided by the slimmest of margins - came as a surprise to most people. In the end, it became much more than whether a country belonged to a group. It became more about national identity and irrational fears about immigration and economic might.
Similar to what happened in the US elections, the Brexit vote also cut across class divisions. Older voters, those with less education and relatively poorer sections of society typically fell into the ‘pro-Brexit’ camp and younger groups or more professionally qualified segments of society veered towards the ‘remain’ camp.
In the end, it was a reflection of a less-than-positive outlook towards the European Union. It was sad that even those that were for Britain being part of the EU were not excited about the benefits or excitement of being part of a bloc. It was all about the EU being just an economic necessity for the UK. The Pound Sterling and real estate prices in London quickly dropped, but the most lasting repercussions won’t be evident for several months or even years.
India’s Mars Mission - Mangalyaan
Just 15-20 years ago, India was not thought to have many capabilities around launch abilities and had to rely on Russia or France for most of its needs. In a relatively short span, India not only successfully tested multiple Polar Satellite Light Vehicles (PSLVs) that targeted GPS and communication capabilities, but nailed the Mars mission on its very first try (which no other country had done before)
Perhaps even more exciting was the fact that the Indian mission cost just $74 million - a fraction of the $670 million the US spent and even cheaper than what the film Gravity cost to produce!
The famed frugal innovation in India can pay rich dividends in space technology and launch services also - not just for other nations and space agencies and for private players as well.
Then of course there has been demonetisation, which many believe is Economic Reforms 2.0 but its execution and frequent volte-face have left people red with anger.
Sadly, another year where terrorism and global safety were concerns
no country or region was spared some version of terrorism or security concern. There were the traditional ones - the insane butchering of people by ISIS, the bombings in places like Istanbul and Brussels, etc. that the world sadly seems to be more desensitised.
2016 also saw some newer targets and methods - from the Orlando club shooting (the US’s worst act of terror by number of deaths since the September 11) and the truck plowing down revelers at the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France and more recently in Berlin, Germany.
Statistically speaking, the world may be in a more quiet period today than at any other time in history, but the sheer lunacy in people resorting to violence to address issues doesn’t seem to abate.
The more recent wars are where traditional ammunition has given way to a war of words. Social media has given rise to an abundance of fake news and tweeting that cause as much damage as a traditional gunshot wound. These media help propagate alternate viewpoints that are more virulent and marketable. Brexit and Donald Trump’s rise owes a lot to this championing of “terror” and “us versus them, ” and this is indeed the more worrying trend.