The World in 2017 | Daily News

The World in 2017

This year was a very challenging one for the entire world, with political, climatic and societal upheavals in many countries. The most transformative event of 2017 was the swearing-in of real estate tycoon Donald Trump as the President of the United States, which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

President Trump has since challenged the existing world order with controversial decisions and statements on climate change, immigration, trade, diplomacy, defence and race relations. His most controversial decision was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which has been opposed at the UN Security Council and the General Assembly even by some of the closest allies of the US. With Trump at the helm, 2018 will remain an equally ‘hot’ year for the US and the rest of the world.

Trump was not the only new personality to enter the world stage in 2017. France saw the ascension of Emmanuel Macron (39) to the Presidency and New Zealand saw Jacinda Arden (37) in the Premier’s seat. Leo Varadkar became the Irish PM at age 38 in 2017. But Austria’s Sebastian Kurz beat them all to the title of the world’s youngest leader at just 31. On the other end of the scale, the world’s oldest leader Robert Mugabe was finally ousted at age 93 and replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa.

World leaders in 2017 promised to fight and annihilate the ISIS terror group and we have indeed seen significant progress on this front. ISIS has been driven away from many of their previous bastions. The next year will be a decisive one for the battle against terrorism as 2017 witnessed several terrorist atrocities mainly in Europe. The US saw one of the deadliest shooting incidents in recent memory as a gunman mowed down more than 50 partygoers in Florida in October.

If there is anything that can create more havoc than terrorism, it is nature. Changing climatic patterns were very much on show in 2017, with hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Jose devastating many parts of the US and Caribbean. Several Asian and South American countries too were hit by heavy rains and floods. There is clear evidence that the world’s climate patterns are changing due to Man’s activities.

North Korea was also in the news, thanks to its nuclear and missile programmes. North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un has continued these programmes in defiance of UN sanctions and international condemnation. Some commentators have been alarmed by the rhetoric of US and North Korean leaders which they say could trigger World War III. Tougher sanctions have been imposed on North Korea for the moment.

The world watched the results of two referendums in 2017. In Britain, Article 50 was triggered, which would eventually end the UK’s membership of the European Union. However, the process has remained moribund since then, with some commentators wondering whether Brexit will happen at all. In Spain, separatists in Catalonia claimed victory in a referendum on independence, only for the Central Government in Madrid to step in and take over. An overwhelming majority of countries sided with Spain on this issue, leaving the separatists in the lurch.

The Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh also received plenty of attention, as did the plight of 165,000 migrants who tried to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe in 2017. More than 3,000 of them perished in the sea as their rickety boats capsized in rough seas. The conflict and famine in Yemen was another incident that saddened the world.

Time Magazine had chosen women who broke the silence over sexual harassment as Person of the Year, as the MeToo tag took Twitter by storm. Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was the first to be accused, while a stream of other big names from Kevin Spacey to Charlie Rose also came to the fore. This can be termed as a turning point in the battle against sexual harassment all over the world.

It was not all gloom and doom in 2017. A ‘lost’ Leonardo Da Vinci painting known as Salvator Mundi sold for an astounding US$ 450 million at an auction. Its destination has now been revealed as the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi.

This year, the world said goodbye to the space probe Cassini, which had amassed thousands of images of Saturn over the years. Ground controllers ordered the robotic probe to destroy itself over those beautiful rings of Saturn. But scientists have probed even further and found many Exoplanets in 2017 that could perhaps harbour or support life.

But if you think saving life on Earth is more important, this year was a breakthrough year for Gene Therapy which involves modifying a person’s DNA to treat or prevent deadly diseases. Several gene therapies were approved for the first time this year to treat blindness, lymphoma and leukemia.

A healthier, better and more equal world is our hope for 2018, where the rich should use some of their collective US$ 5 trillion wealth for the welfare of the poor and all should join hands to protect our only home, Planet Earth. 


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