The end of yet another year

2012 ends. The end of yet another year. And first and foremost, I must make the year resolution about the subject I feel the most guilty about. The neglect of this blog. I need to update more often. Not simply because I should, but also because I need to shake off my laziness. Maybe, just maybe announcing this to the world will make me a more punctual blogger.

Now that I have that off my chest, on to the meat of the matter! 2012 has been a glorious year, a wonderful year, a mixed year, really. Not just for me, but also for a good section of the world. While individuals might suffer across the world, the societies which house them have steadily begun maturing, all the way from the newly democratised Egypt to the normalising Japanese society. Closer home in India, Narendra Modi has won another term in office and looks all set to continue the growth trajectory of Gujrat while the UPA government at the centre is trying to make changes to some parts of the law which urgently need changing. Maybe it’s not doing enough, but that’s hardly for me to say.

India’s civil society has also had a wakeup call in the form of the Delhi Gang Rape case. While the evolution of civil society has been long in the making, it’s high time that the country find its conscience and moral compass and orient both in the right direction. Change is what’s being desired, and change is what is seeping in through the pores and cracks the political establishment has failed to seal properly. It’s up to the people to ensure that the change remains positive.

However, not all has been roses. In fact, I’d say that the most prosperous sections of the word are still undergoing corrections in their paths. The first one which comes to mind is the US. At the time of this writing, United States senators and representatives are still hammering out a deal which will allow them to avoid the fiscal cliff which now looms large in front of them. Without such a deal, there will be automatic spending cuts across the board and many other effects I have no clue about. The long and short of it is that if the US does not orient its policy correctly, the world economy might suffer a catastrophic downturn.

Any mention of the world economy, of course, brings to mind the ongoing EU crisis. With the very idea of the EU threatened by the current economic slowdown, many pundits talk about too much being done too soon with regards to the EU. Of course, you also have people talking about too little being done. There’s no real consensus on what can be done, and that gives the impression that no one really knows what to do. Which, as it turns out, is pretty true. You have people whose guesses are far more educated than the rest of us, but at the end of the day, that’s all they are. Educated guesses.

With the Libor scandal and its associated outcomes, the following year doesn’t look good for the reputation of banks either. They’ll need something utterly magical if the world’s confidence in the financial sector is to be restored.

The two regions in the world most poised for conflict will have a difficult year in front of them. The Middle East and the Far East are experiencing posturing among countries, some of which is making old regional tensions flare up. China and Japan will be worth watching. With Noda out and Abe in, Japanese policy is expected to take a turn towards the right. Ishihara could also become a player in the near future. China will be watching these developments with a hawkish gaze, keeping a wary eye out for any normalcy in Japan’s military. WWII might have ended sixty seven years ago, but Japan’s (supposed) military prowess is still feared throughout the region. What with the antagonistic relationship Japan had with every country in the region in the Second World War, Japan-India ties are predicted to become stronger. While India is hardly in the same league as China, it is seen as a potential counter-weight to the emerging regional super-power.

The Middle East, on the other hand, manages to defy every prediction ever made about it. No one could have predicted the Arab Spring when it happened, and its consequences managed to change the geopolitics of the entire region. Israel is about to have its polls, and these will be one of the only polls in the country’s history without an Israeli presidential candidate boasting of his close ties to the American establishment. The Palestinian Authority has the status of an observer in the UN, and it may go to the ICC charging Israel with war crimes or something similar. Syria is in a state of turmoil right now, and no one has any idea what might happen there. However, one can predict with reasonable accuracy that Assad’s days in office are numbered, and once the Russians begin seeing eye-to-eye with everyone else, which should not take the whole of next year, hopefully, there will be no corner for him to back into. Turkey’s internal status is also one which will be looked at very closely. Erdogan’s policy of making the secular state more and more autocratic and Islamic seems to be taking Turkey away from the moral high ground it has enjoyed so far, and it is very likely that Turkey will continue down the path it has taken in the next year as well. About Iran, well, the less said the better. With the regime feeling the pinch of sanctions deeply, there is every possibility that Iran will be led to the negotiating table kicking and screaming, whether it likes it or not. However, a lot depends on whether its nuclear program manages to go far enough to make others quake in their boots or not.

Finally, coming to India. My own country has quite a hill to climb. Forget battling poverty and illiteracy. It’s time to look beyond education, government and infrastructure. As the Delhi Rape Case shows, it’s time for the country to do some soul searching and finally discover itself. The next year should be marked by a middle class waking up to find itself, the youth understanding that rebelliousness is not just being belligerent on the streets, but actually doing something about it and women demanding the empowerment consciously being denied to them. The next year should be a year of change, a year of revolution, a year of a country cutting itself and discovering the colour of its blood.

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