By Sishir Devkota–Four months after the Brexit, Donald Trump wrestled his way to the White House in 2016. If news from the UK and the USA were far distressing; more satisfying was the concluding peace agreement between FARC rebels and the government in Colombia. Deaths in Syria lessened than compared to the year 2015, but more than 47,000 people still lost their lives. The signing of Paris Climate Treaty was significant but so did the buzz around Federal Reserve’s (US) interest rate hike rattle financial markets throughout the year. Brazil demonstrated the modern impeachment that would have shaken world leaders with a spooky lesson. South Korea followed the same route which left Dilma Rousseff and Park Geun Hye; both elected female presidents kicked out of their office. Apple learned the lesson of how EU’s supranationalism and Irish sovereignty was good as confusing for it to pay its $13 bn tax dues. Uber, the once upon a time start up brand began experimenting driverless vehicles in 2016. The world in 2017 seems even more promising. But, Mars first.
When Space X, the private space exploration company came to the picture in 2002, less had they envisaged the idea of colonizing Mars. But, more than a decade later, Elon Musk, the founder of Space X is not defeated by the history of its recent Falcon 9 rocket explosions. Though the surface temperature in Mars is around negative sixty, Musk is upbeat about pricing around $200,000 for a Martian trip by the end of 2030’s. Space X predicts the journey to be six months long with what it is designing as an “Interplanetary Transport System” which will be different from contemporary rockets and spaceships. Primarily because Space X plans to extract rocket fuel from Mars itself. Also, their blueprint suggests building machines that could be used twice rather than once. Musk’s immediate plans are even more exciting. As an experiment to its long term Martian colonization, Space X is planning to send its rockets (named Dragons) to Mars by the end of 2017. The coming year certainly holds good news for private individuals aspiring for space travels. 2017 is going to bring it closer to us than we previously imagined.
Possible Scottish independence after Brexit? First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon certainly thinks so. Previously this year, Sturgeon’s speech highlighted her referendum manifesto and stunned everyone on how she was planning for an independence referendum in the case of Brexit taking place. Her new campaign “Yes2” is gaining momentum and it wouldn’t be unwise to expect a new Scottish wave coming strong in 2017. A good majority of Scotland voted against Brexit and the middle class who supported in favor of the union previously will have much of re-thinking to do. Sturgeon clearly mentioned the possibility of Scoxit by the end of 2019. But, the process of Brexiting seems far from easy and it could easily prove to be a nervous catalyst for Scotland’s separation from the UK. Expect some news from Scotland in 2017.
White Helmets in Syria
Volunteers from Syria’s White Helmets have rescued and saved thousands of lives. It has come a long way since 2014, to establish itself as a great civilian defense force situated in rebel held areas of Syria. Amid the war, WHS have managed to remain organized and are gathering international attention, most notably for their Nobel Peace Prize nomination earlier this year. The group is burgeoning and volunteers are being trained in Turkey with real life towns modelled as Aleppo for simulation. Russian and Syrian plane bombs have killed many WHS volunteers but not without a positive upshot. WHS is a good example of well trained neutral humanitarian force made up of civilians that could not only rebuild Syria in the future but also institute a global wave of citizen led humanitarian response; which has surprisingly been very effective. 2017 for Syria is all going to be about such local responses springing out as a reaction to the hopeless internationally led political solution. Don’t be surprised if White Helmets in Syria become the poster for the end of Syrian Civil War.
Nervy Chinese Congress
President Xi Jinping will hold the five yearly national congress comprising of 350 leaders on October 2017. Reshuffling of several politburo members might be on the president’s mind; as a chance to form his personal club. But, it is the task of cleansing corruption and changing the party culture of busted decision making hierarchy in Chinese politics; his main headache. 2017 will expose Chinese governance problems which has largely been the result of it past policies. In a bid to improve the economy and channel development of local projects, decision making authority has largely been delegated into lower levels of government; now which does not seem to absorb President Xi’s command. Leadership problems exist even though many commentators have praised Xi Jingping’s personality as one of the strongest compared to past leaders. In 2017, watch out on how President Xi will try to hide his political fighting with power mongers in Beijing at one side and with provincial elitists on the other. Next year in October, China will celebrate two festivals. The mid-autumn festival and the quiet hostilities inside Zhongnanhai- the central headquarters of the Communist Party of China.
The fight against Malaria is possibly coming to an end. Scientists Robert Langer and Giovanni Traverso have formulated a device to insert inside human bodies what they call as ivermectin pills; which can poison Anopheles– the genus of malarian mosquitoes. This has been cited as an unorthodox approach where infected mosquitoes which come into contact with human bodies will be exposed to ivermectin and lose their capacity of transferring the Anopheles virus to its eggs. Mosquitoes do not fly far away from where they hatch their eggs and the concept has been reckoned to be quite effective. Ivermectin pills have already been tested over animal bodies and plans are set to be used on human populations directly in contact with the Malaria virus. 2017 could not only witness Malaria’s extinction but also prove to be a landmark year on how we administer drugs.
Aside, the year 2017 will demonstrate global curiosity on how the new American president will run his first year at office. If that feeds apprehension, scientists working on validating whether Pluto could possibly have subsurface waters will be welcoming. Or, Thailand’s new monarchial shift from their great king to his son could promise a global spectacle. It will also be interesting to witness how Samsung, world’s largest smartphone brand will come back from its misery of burning batteries. Qualifications for the 2018 soccer world cup will have been settled. Also, be prepared for the prospect of India switching to cashless economy.
(The Author is pursuing Masters in Democracy and Global Transformations at the University of Helsinki, Finland.)