Md. Farooque Hossain
And here we are! We just stepped into another new year, leaving the old one behind. Yet the year 2022 will go down in history as one of the most eventful years for a host of reasons. While a few events would be fondly remembered, many others will be indelibly seared into people’s memories for wrong reasons. So, as we look forward to 2023, we cannot but look back on and take stock of the outgoing year.
The war has trapped the people of the world between a rock and a hard place. The rock is the severe price shocks in food, energy and fertilizer markets due to the war, given the supremacy of both the Russian Federation and Ukraine in these markets. The hard place is the extremely fragile context in which this crisis emerged; a world facing the cascading crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. To make matters worse, the war also has led to all-encompassing western sanctions on Russia for which the whole world has been hit hard as a knock-on effect.
Not only Russia-Ukraine conflicts but also growing tensions between China and Taiwan dominated the news headlines all the year round. It culminated in the largest ever-military drill conducted by China around Taiwan straits, following the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
Man-made disaster struck on the first day of October 2022 brought about a dark day for football fraternities around the world. Tear gas fired by Indonesian police triggered a deadly crush at a football match, which left 135 people dead by asphyxiation and scores of injured. It was a tragedy beyond comprehension. Another appealing tragedy unfolded on the night of 29 October when a crowd crush occurred during Halloween festivities in the Itaewon neighbourhood of Seoul, South Korea. The incident claimed at least 158 people, most of whom were young adults.
Natural calamities too bared its fangs and wreaked havoc when the shallow 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck near the heavily populated town of Cianjur of Indonesia on November 22. It left at least 268 people, including many children, dead, more than a thousand injured and reduced scores of buildings to rubble.
Iran experienced a major turmoil after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in so-called morality police custody on an accusation of violating the law on headscarves. According to Iran Human Rights, as of 29 November 2022 at least 448 people have been killed by security forces, including 29 women and 60 children, since the protest erupted.
Amid devastating decline in press safety, violence in Mexico and war in Ukraine led to a spike in journalist killings in 2022. The year witnessed the killings of 66 journalists and media workers worldwide in connection with their profession, according to International Press Institute (IPI) data. This figure marks a sharp rise from the 45 journalists killed in 2021.
Moreover, the demise of Brazilian football virtuoso Edson Arantes do Nascimento, who came to be known as Pele and one of the greatest and most popular footballers in the world at fag end of the year, after a long battle with cancer saddened the world. Amid a slew of odds, Lionel Messi’s winning the crown of glory and finally solving the world cup puzzle was heart-warming for football lovers around the world.
On the national front, the year has had its fair share of highs and lows – across all sectors. In June, north-eastern district Sylhet was hit by a once-in-a-century flood, causing massive destruction, disruption and tremendous suffering to the millions of people in the region. On the other hand, cyclone Sitrang lashed many parts of the country with heavy rain, leaving a trail of damage and devastation. In addition, the record toll of dengue outbreak and casualty figures of road crashes left a scar on the outgoing year.
From an economic point of view, it has been a rollercoaster year for Bangladesh. During this time, foreign reserves evaporated at breakneck pace, default loans hit a new record, taka depreciated to a new low, import shot up despite control, remittance slumped in spite of government incentives and stock market closed lower. However, exports remain buoyant.
Nonetheless, not all have been a write-off in the past year. Two megaprojects – Padma Bridge and Dhaka metro rail – have been finally opened, fully or partially, to the public, which can make a significant impact on both our lives and socioeconomic conditions. The entire population has come under electricity coverage, which, despite the recent load-shedding trends, will likely be equally impactful. Besides, in the sports arena, the triumph of the maiden SAFF championship by the women football team was quite uplifting.
In the New Year, the government has to thread a tightrope when dealing with some crucial civic issues, which will continue to have great impacts on our life in the long term. Most importantly, we have a national election coming at the end of 2023. Given the nature of prevailing confrontational politics, common people have every reason to be worried about. But then, as conscious citizens we never lose heart, rather we hope our responsible politicians would make resolutions to turn over a new leaf for the greater good of both the people and the county.
On a pessimistic note, the World Bank Chief Economist Indermit Gill recently said they expect the global economy to grow by less than 3 percent, and 2023 will be even worse. Considering all this, we must make concrete plans and march forward with the lessons we learned in the previous year. After all, the New Year offers us an opportunity to rethink, reset, refocus, readjust and reboot – and let this new resolution begin from the New Year.
(The writer is a Columnist and IT Professional, who works for Thakral Information Systems Pvt. Ltd and can be reached at [email protected])
Source: Sun Editorial