The year 2022 saw a great deal of twists and turns in the general socio-geo-political aspects of India as well as the world. As a society, the world has evolved and shaped itself in accordance to the unanticipated events that have taken place this year, including all-out wars, famous deaths and assassinations, coups, all amid the collapsing economy triggered by the never ending COVID-19 pandemic.
There have been many incidents that have hogged headlines since the beginning of the year. It would be more beneficial to actually comprehend the events that are influencing and shaping the world, how some of these will continue to stay, and how some incidents will emerge in this mix and create their own second-order effects.
After the devastating second wave of COVID in 2021, this year started off with the third wave driven by the Omicron variant of the virus which is said to be highly contagious. People have started moving closer to the pre-pandemic era, but daily life doesn’t exactly look like it did before, especially in the field of jobs as it may have become clearer that many still prefer to work from home.
COVID did cede space to other news too. Early in the year, a row over educational institutions allowing the wearing of hijab or imposing a uniform dress code had become the talk of the nation.
The issue that erupted in Karnataka’s Udupi where burqa-clad female students of a college were denied entry into their classes for wearing hijabs, had spilled to other institutes in the state as well, triggering massive protests and unrest countrywide.
The hijab controversy had once again ignited the debate about the rights of minorities in India under the Hindu nationalist government and brought certain questions to fore – the freedom of religion and if we as a society can live inclusively?
Meanwhile, a boycott culture was slowly seen shaping up against Bollywood and cinema as a whole. It soon changed from a tool of protest to a toxic tool of bullying and intolerance. The so-called boycott gangs went on rampage on trigger-happy social media calling for boycott of Bollywood movies for reasons best known to them. This is nothing but a culture of intolerance that has gained momentum in the past decade, the danger of which cannot be downplayed.
The year also saw a slew of developmental and infrastructural projects being undertaken across the country. From railways, civil aviation, inland waterways, road transport as well as ropeways, the central government has left no stones unturned as far development is concerned.
Just when the communal tensions pertaining to hijabs were dying down, a video survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex was conducted May 6 after a petition was filed in the Varanasi Court by five Hindu petitioners seeking permission to worship deities. The survey was halted after a Muslim body alleged advocate Ajay Mishra of biasedness, but the court refused to remove him and the survey was resumed. According to the survey, the Hindu side claimed to have found a 'shivling' inside the mosque, which the Muslim side said to be a fountain.
The Maharashtra political crisis is a stark reminder of the prevailing horse trading of politicians that is quite evident how things, as we know, unfolded. Rebel Shiv Sena legislator Eknath Shinde and 37 of his MLAs moved to Assam where they were joined by many more MLAs of the Uddhav Thackeray faction eventually leading to the dissolution of the Maha Vikas Agadhi government.
Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal-United Chief Nitish Kumar also went ‘Shinde-style’ and broke ties with the BJP and joined hands with the 'Mahagathbandhan' alliance comprising Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and Left parties. He then became the CM for the 8th time.
The Morbi bridge collapse in Gujarat is a tragedy still haunts the people of the country. Over 130 people including women and children lost their lives after a British-era suspension foot-bridge over the Machchu river snapped. The rescue operations reportedly went for almost a week. A total of nine persons were arrested in connection to the incident.
This year's G20 summit in Indonesia was pivotal as India was passed its presidency and will be holding it from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023. Several leaders shared the world stage in Bali province including US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak among others. India will be hosting the Summit this year in September in New Delhi.
In November, the country was shaken by the grisly murder of Shraddha Walkar at the hands of Aftab Amin Poonawala, her live-in partner. Shradda was strangled and killed her at their flat in New Delhi. Later, her body was chopped into 35 pieces and stacked in a refrigerator that was specially bought by Aftab for the occasion. He was arrested soon after and is currently lodged in Tihar jail. The incident has also drawn a spotlight on the ‘love jihad’ issue that the right-wing outfits have been continuously raising since its inception.
On the international front, Russia's unprecedented invasion of Ukraine in February has triggered a massive refugee crisis. The war has further plunged the world into crisis, impacting the economy that is reeling under inflation, recession, slowdown, and job losses, among other issues. The sound of air raids still rings across the capital city of Kyiv with no diplomatic solution in sight yet.
Sri Lanka's economic crisis is also one of notable ones that has forced nations to rethink their strategies. The crisis has triggered massive agitation with protestors storming President Gotaybaya Rajapaksa’s and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's residences and vandalizing it.
The dramatic visuals show protestors playing carrom board, sleeping on the sofa, enjoying in park premises and preparing food for dinner.
The worsening economic situation in the country has led to increasing tensions in the region. There were reports of several confrontations between individuals and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations where thousands of desperate members of the public queued for hours and sometimes even days.
China’s Xi Jinping secured an unprecedented third term this year, elevating his power within the Communist party. China and India share a very tricky border relation and it remains a major concern for the latter specifically as there have many conflicts between the two sides that led to heavy casualties and declining diplomatic relations.
Notably in July, the assassination of former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shook the world after he was shot dead while delivering a speech ahead of the upper house election. He was Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was also injured in a failed assassination attempt during a rally in the capital city of Islamabad in November this year. He sustained injuries on his leg and was shifted to a hospital for treatment. Four others were also wounded in the incident including confidantes of Khan.
In a statement, he reiterated the foreign conspiracy claims against the US over his government's independent foreign policy.
The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was ousted from power in April this year, by a vote of confidence.
Queen Elizabeth, the longest-reigning monarch of Britain and the nation's figurehead for seven decades, passed away in September at the age 96. King Charles III was proclaimed Britain's new monarch. In his personal declaration at the accession ceremony, he said that he vowed to follow his mother’s 'inspiring example'.
The year also apprised us about climate change, indicating that it’s real as floods, unprecedented heat waves and other extreme weather issues kept troubling the world. The consequences of climate change include, among others, intense droughts, water scarcity, severe fires, rising sea levels, flooding, melting polar ice, catastrophic storms and declining biodiversity. This year, the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27, in a landmark agreement, signed to provide “loss and damage” funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters.
On October 28, Tesla and SpaceX CEO took charge of Twitter after completing his USD 44 billion acquisition of the microblogging site. Following this, he fired social media company’s four top executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal and legal executive Vijaya Gadde among massive layoffs. He had proposed to the buy the social media giant in April this year, to which, Twitter accepted.
Musk believes that the website has a leftwing bias that should be corrected by supposedly allowing suspended users back on to the platform. The accounts of Donald Trump and Kanye West Peterson have been reinstated, along with nearly all those that were suspended for falling foul of old Twitter’s rules on abuse and hate speech.
2022 ended with high fervor after Lionel Messi-led Argentina beat two-time world champions France 4-2 on penalties in a high-octane FIFA World Cup finals match being hosted at Qatar, a first in an Arab country.
This was Argentina's third World Cup win. Messi ended up as the second-highest goal scorer in the tournament after France's Kylian Mbappe. He was also awarded the Golden Ball.