2016 was a year full of upheaval and change. It saw the deaths of many celebrities. It was a dramatic year in politics with historical votes on Brexit and Trump, as well as a political assassination in the U.K.; the Maldives quietly left the Commonwealth on 13th October.
Personally it was a difficult year with illness as well as the challenges of living daily life in Bangalore; a year which saw rioting on the streets, the burning of buses and general strikes amongst other things (such as having to quickly move house!). Access to the internet has been a continuing thorn in our side, and the start of 2017 saw us yet again without internet for weeks. (The service by the government provider, BSNL, is truly awful.)
Despite the gloom there were some good things that happened in 2016. Here are some of them.
Some good bits of 2016
The World we live in
On the 14th January the World Health Organisation declared an end to the Ebola outbreak.
22nd April saw 175 nations sign the Paris Climate Change Agreement at the United Nations. On 3rd September the USA and China joined it too. India ratified the Agreement (signed on 22nd April) on 2nd October. On the 4th of November the Paris Agreement on climate change came into force.
On the 4th September the Giant panda was removed from the endangered species list (to vulnerable) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. When I was a child there was a real risk that they would become extinct so this development gives me hope that sustained action by individuals can bring about the change we want to see in the world. Similarly, manatees were also removed from the endangered list earlier in the year on 7th January and in July scientists declared that the ozone layer had started to show signs of healing. (People boycotting products containing CFCs actually worked.)
Politics and Government and laws
The National League for Democracy in Myanmar take part in a historic parliamentary session for the first time on the 1st February. On 15th March Htin Kyaw, a close friend of Aung San Suu Kai, is elected the first civilian President of Myanmar. He was sworn in on 30th March and made Aung San Suu Kai his Minister for Foreign Affairs. The USA lifted economic sanctions on Myanmar on 7th October.
The Sri Lankan Parliament adopts a resolution to consider converting itself into a Constitutional Assembly on 9th March.
Sadiq Khan, a human rights lawyer of Pakistani descent, and famously, a son of a bus driver, is sworn in as Mayor of London on 7th May. He remained dignified during the awful campaign against him and beat Zac Goldsmith. Also a “hurrah” for Sarah Olney MP who beat Zac Goldsmith in the by election he triggered and gave us all a sliver of hope that nice people may triumph in the end.
On 7th July the German Parliament passes a landmark rape law stating “no means no” and broadened the definition of sex crimes. Thank you Germany.
Pakistan’s National Assembly passes legislation against honour killings on 6th October.
Austria’s Alexander Van der Bellen (Green Party) was elected President on 4th December and gave hope that not all of Europe (or the rest of the world) is accepting fascist rhetoric.
Science, Space and similar
Sir Arthur Wiles, an Oxford University Professor, is awarded the Nobel prize on 15th March for proving the 300 year old mystery of Fermat’s last theorem.
British astronaut Tim Peake becomes the first man to complete a marathon in space on 24th April. (For those of us feeling like we’re under achievers in life now – it’s got to be ‘easier’ to do a marathon in space when there is no gravity – no weight to carry around. *snigger*)
NASA’s solar powered Juno spacecraft successfully enters Jupiter’s orbit on 5th July after a 5 year journey from Earth.
Three British born scientists, David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz, are awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for revealing unusual states of matter which potentially will help work on future quantum computers. (I have no idea what this means but it sounds good!).
I’m no football fan but even Leicester City winning the Premier League on 2nd May made the news in India. On the same day Mark Selby won the World snooker championship.
Andy Murray won his second Wimbledon title on 10th July. Quietly, without fanfare, he did his job and is world class. An example to other men in sport and a good role model for future generations.
Chris Froome won his third Tour de France title on 24th July. Third title!
The women’s hockey team take gold at the Olympics on 19th August for the first time ever and inspired a generation. They never lost a match and won the final on penalty shoot outs – keeping their nerve to the very end and teaching us all to never give up. Britain’s Alex Danson MBE was the top goal scorer for the entire Olympics. Yay! I can’t tell you how pleased I was that the ladies did this. I’ve played hockey for over 35 years and this was a huge highlight for me.
On 20th August Mo Farah became the second man ever to retain the 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic titles. He fell during one race and got up, carried on running and won. Another example of never giving up.
UK Paralympians secured second place on the medal table at Rio with 147 medals, 64 of them golds. The ladies led the medal charge with Dame Sarah Storey winning 3 golds in cycling, Hannah Cockcroft with gold in athletics, Sophie Christiansen and Natash Baker with golds in equestrian and Bethany First claimed 3 golds and two silvers in swimming. Kadeena Cox triumphed in two different sports and won golds in both athletics and cycling. Go Ladies!
The world’s oldest serving royal and the longest reigning British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, turned 90 on 21st April (and she’s still with us thankfully).
The experienced skydiver Luke Aitkins jumps out of a plane without a parachute and lands in a net at the Big Sky movie ranch on the outskirts of Simi Valley, California on 30th July (phew!).
Bob Dylan is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on 13th October.
Mel and Sue and Mary Berry turned down the cash and remained loyal to the BBC on principle. A rare shining example in today’s world.
In India, the Mental Health Care Bill 2013, which seeks to de-criminalise suicide, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 8th August.
In Tamil Nadu, maternity leave for government staff was increased to nine months on 1st September.
On 3rd September India Post released a commerative postage stamp to celebrate the canonisation of Mother Theresa.
On 14th December the Rajya Sabha passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014 with more benefits. It is passed by the Lok Sabha the following day.
Keep smiling folks. Take one step at a time and each day at a time and we will get through 2017 and make the world a better place. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world.”