BY NAGESHWAR PATNAIK IN BHUBANESWAR, December 31, 2023: As 2023 is about to end, it is time to recount various significant events that took place this year. Some noteworthy world events in 2023 include India outdoing China as the world’s most populous country and the Hamas-Israel war. Most importantly, global temperatures crossed all records in 2023 as this was most likely the hottest year on record. Global temperatures were never this high in 1.25 lakh years, and they are expected to surpass the 2-degree Celsius limit enshrined in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Diplomats from various countries participated in the twenty-eighth Conference of Parties (COP-28) to discuss action plans and agreements.

India had a lot to celebrate this year – a new Parliament, two successful space missions and an effective rescue mission to drill out people stuck inside a collapsed tunnel. But the ethnic violence in the Northeast that led to hundreds of people losing their lives, multiple natural disasters and accidents killing scores and reputed women wrestlers of the country fighting against sexual harassment also dominated the headlines this year.

In February this year, Turkey and Syria witnessed massive earthquakes, with the first quake, measuring 7.8 magnitude and a second one of 7.5 magnitude, which were followed by numerous aftershocks that caused building collapses. This led to a death toll of 59,000 in Turkey and 8,000 in Syria. There seems to be no end to natural disasters hitting the world.

More than a year after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the war continued with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy scrambling to mobilise a continuous supply of soldiers and weapons as key allies, Europe and America, slowed down the funding due to changes in internal politics. Though there is no concrete information on the number of casualties, UN estimates say that more than 10,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed. A New York Times report said that over 5 lakh Ukrainian and Russian soldiers have been killed so far.

Cyclone Freddy is the longest-lasting tropical cyclone in history, causing over 1,400 deaths in Malawi, Mozambique and parts of southwest Africa. Record-breaking Tropical Cyclone Freddy formed on Feb. 3, northwest of Australia before traveling across the entire Indian Ocean to become the first Category 5 storm of the Southwest Indian Ocean cyclone season.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, no tropical cyclones had taken such a path across the Indian Ocean in the past two decades. On March 7, Freddy became the longest-lived tropical cyclone ever recorded and was at that time officially Earth’s most energetic storm ever observed. Cyclone Freddy has killed more than 500 people in southern Africa since it first made landfall, making it one of the deadliest storms to hit the continent in the last two decades.

School shootings have, unfortunately, become a familiar part of the news cycle in the US. In March, a mass shooting at an elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee grabbed headlines after a former student opened fire in The Covenant School building, killing six people, including three nine-year old children. The shooter was shot dead by the police.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as an MP in March after a Gujarat court convicted him in a defamation case for his remarks on ‘Modi’ surname. This sparked a huge uproar from his party Congress and other Opposition forces. Mr Gandhi got relief after the Supreme Court stayed his conviction in August, enabling his reinstatement as an MP.

In April, India surpassed China to become the world’s most populous country, comprising an estimated population of 1.43 billion people, according to UN population estimates, the most significant shift in global demographics since records began. It is also the first time since 1950, when the UN first began keeping global population records, that China has been knocked off the top spot. Projections reveal that India is likely to sustain this position as the most populous country for the next few decades. India’s population is also largely young, with 68 per cent being between the ages of 15 and 64 years, which is considered the working population of a country. About 25 per cent is between 0-14 years; 18 per cent between 10 and 19 years, 26 per cent between 10 and 24 years, and 7 per cent above 65 years.

2022-2023 was an eventful year for Imran Khan. In August, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan was sentenced to three years in prison over corruption allegations. He was found guilty of not declaring the money he earned from selling gifts he received while he was in office. Mr. Khan, a former cricket player before becoming a politician, was elected into office in 2018. He was, however, ousted last year with a vote of no confidence after falling out with Pakistan’s military.

The Congress posted a thumping victory in Karnataka Assembly polls in May, returning to power in the southern state. The win was a shot in the arm for the main opposition after a string of electoral setbacks. On May 6, 2023, King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla of the U.K. are crowned in a lavish coronation ceremony. It is the first coronation in over 70 years, after the death of Charles’ mother, the former Queen Elizabeth II. In May, flooding and landslides triggered by heavy rain have killed at least 129 people in Rwanda and six in Uganda.

This year, India got a new Parliament building. Located right next to the old one, the new building was inaugurated on May 28 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Part of the Central Vista project, the new building was built to address infrastructure challenges due to limited space in the old building. The new Lok Sabha chamber has 888 seats and Rajya Sabha 384.

On June 2, as many as 296 people were killed in a train accident in Odisha’s Balasore district when 22 compartments of Coromandel Express derailed after a collision with a stationery goods train. Three of the derailed coaches were flung to the adjoining tracks, where they hit some compartments of Bengaluru-Howrah superfast express. The Railways, which drew strong criticism for the crash, has said a signalling error led to it. In July, military personnel in Niger have announced that they have removed the President, Mohamed Bazoum, from power.

India carved out a niche in space history on August 23 after Chandrayaan-3 successfully landed on the south pole of the moon. With this mission, the nation joined the elite list of the countries that made it to the moon. The other countries include the USA, Russia, and China. Just a week after, India launched its first mission to the Sun. The spaceship, Aditya-L1 was launched shortly before midday. As the vessel made its way to the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere, an announcement was made by an official from an Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) that the Launch was successful, and all conditions were normal. If the mission is successful, the mission from the ISRO will be the first by any Asian nation to be placed in orbit around the sun.

India hosted and presided over the G20 Leaders’ Summit on September 9-10, which witnessed the participation of 43 heads of various countries, including US President Biden, Canada’s Trudeau, and British PM Rishi Sunak. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi missed the event.

On the morning of October 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas executed a significant attack on Israel, notable for its unprecedented scale and scope. This was one of the major events that defined 2023. This was followed by immense violence and a massive death toll, and is still unresolved.

Billionaire Elon Musk’s renaming of Twitter to “X”, was also a major event this year. He had officially bought Twitter on October 27, last year. In July 2023, Musk began calling Twitter “X” and changed its phone logo. This came along with other variations made in the website and Twitter accounts.

More than 150 people were killed and hundreds of others injured after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck western Nepal on November 3. The quake, whose epicentre was at Ramidanda, about 550 km from the capital city of Kathmandu, was the country’s deadliest since 2015.

In November, Kozhikode in Kerala was Named ‘City of Literature’ by UNESCO Creative Cities Network. This honour was conferred upon Kozhikode on World Cities Day, alongside Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, which was acknowledged as a ‘City of Music‘. Kozhikode’s new designation as the ‘City of Literature’ is a significant milestone, as it is the first city in India to receive this prestigious recognition. It is interesting to note that Prague was the first city to be granted the City of Literature title in 2014.

In view of celebrating 2023 as the International Year of Millets and bringing the global food processing industry together, the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries organized the second edition ‘World Food India 2023’ from 3rd-5th November, 2023 in New Delhi. With the objective of introducing the world to rich Indian food culture as well as promoting investments in the diverse food processing sector of the country, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries of India launched the first edition of World Food India in 2017.

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the second edition of the Mega food event ‘and disbursed Seed Capital Assistance for over one lakh SHG members to strengthen Self Help Groups. The event aimed at showcasing India as the ‘food basket of the world’. The event focussed majorly on millets and how they can assist foreign investors in the country.

On November 16th, a new Indian Navy ship called ‘Amini’ was launched as part of a project to construct eight Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Crafts. These ships replace older ones and are designed for operations near the coast. This project demonstrates India’s progress in manufacturing its own ships, promoting self-reliance

1.4 billion people across the country suffered a heartbreak on November 19, as India fell short of winning the ODI World Cup after a terrific campaign. For 40 nights since their first win against Australia in Chennai, India strode like the invincible, but would stumble on the 41st night to a tame defeat. India hosted the 13th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2023 for the first time. .

The 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) was held inaugurated in Goa from November 20 to 28 under the aegis of the Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The event has become the largest South Asian film market and a haven for filmmakers, producers, and storytellers worldwide where ideas and inspirations form the foundation of a thriving cinematic marketplace. The Indian media & entertainment industry is the 5th largest and most globalised industry globally.

A group of 41 workers were greeted with excitement as they emerged from a collapsed tunnel under the Himalayas on November 28. The men had been trapped in the tunnel for 17 days, as recovery teams drilled an escape route through the mountains.

December is not only the last month of the year but also the most exciting one. Some people are thrilled to witness fresh snowfall while others are ecstatic about welcoming the New Year. The month kicked off with Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram getting new governments as the results of the Assembly polls were announced on December 3 and 4. With its landslide win in Madhya Pradesh, and having overturned Congress governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is now in power in 17 states and Union Territories. For the Congress, after a disappointing counting day, its win in Telangana was just a consolation prize. The Congress’s strong performance, with 64 seats and 39.4% of the vote share, however, solidifies its presence in the South.

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