The best of 2019 | Daily News

The best of 2019

Judging by all accounts, 2019 will turn out to be a remarkable year for the world. But to see how remarkable it is, some people have already travelled 50 years back in time to the “Summer of 69”. Those who thought of Woodstock, the festival that saw 500,000 music lovers celebrate “Peace, Love and Music” on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York, are not far off the mark, but it was one month earlier in July that a much more significant event happened: The Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Indeed, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Man’s first steps on the Moon, where Neil Armstrong made history as the first-ever human to set foot on another celestial body. While Armstrong himself has now reached the Great Beyond, his legacy will never fade away. Here was mankind breaking away from the confines of the Earth and exploring another object in space, albeit our own Moon. Yes, it is a shame that we have not been able to go back to the Moon in the intervening 50 years (apart from the remaining Apollo missions that ended in 1972), but now there is every chance that we will give the Moon a pass altogether and reach for Mars instead. Most Governmental space agencies and private space companies such as SpaceX are now focused on a manned Mars mission. This year will be yet another fascinating year for the private space industry and we are likely to see the first space tourists courtesy of Virgin Galactic.

Back on Earth, Virgin and other British companies will be watching with interest as the UK leaves the European Union on March 29. However, the shambolic negotiations, dilly-dallying over the Irish backstop and confusion over trade deals with the EU and non-EU countries may mean that Brexit may not happen at all. Brexit or no Brexit, the Cricket World Cup will go ahead in the UK from May, but in a decision that has taken the sport backwards only 10 countries including Sri Lanka will be competing. Contrast this with the Rugby World Cup, also to be held this year (from September in Japan), where 20 nations, some of them almost new to Rugby, will be competing.

April-May will see 800 million voters heading to polling booths in India, the world’s most populous democracy. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still adored by much of the Indian population, recent local polls indicated resurgence for Rahul Gandhi’s Congress Party. This should be a cause for concern for Modi’s Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP). The one problem that could tip the scales is unemployment - India’s Railways Ministry said it received 20 million applications (more or less Sri Lanka’s entire population) for about 100,000 jobs back in March 2018.

This will be a crucial factor as 400 million of the Indian voters are either first-time or young voters. Among the other countries where general or Presidential elections will be held this year are Nigeria, Ukraine, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Europe, South Africa, Argentina, Canada and Israel. The youth vote will figure strongly in most of these elections too, as most voters will be from the generation born between 1982 and 2001. Later in October, India and the rest of the world will mark Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary.

Among the other notable anniversaries this year are Martin Luther King’s 90th birth anniversary (January 21) and Napoleon Bonaparte’s 250th (August 15). There are other anniversaries too – the Common European currency Euro turns 20 and tech giant Facebook, 15. For history lovers, the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings in World War II will be marked this year.

There will be no shortage of headlines from the US this year, as the partial Government shutdown continues over President Donald Trump’s demand for funds for a border wall between the US and Mexico. The House will be controlled by Democrats from tomorrow and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe too shows no sign of slowing down ahead of the speculated wrapping up in February. Immigration will continue to be a controversial topic in the US and elsewhere.

Climate Change will continue to be headline material in 2019, as more freak weather events are expected to occur in many parts of the world. According to the UN, the world has just 11 years to free itself from the harshest effects of Climate Change. Unfortunately, some countries have pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, a worldwide effort to put things right. But there are silver linings too – every car manufacturer will have at least one electric car in their line-up. In fact, 2019 has been touted as the Year of the Electric Car. We can expect most manufacturers to go entirely electric by 2025, along with a shift to autonomous vehicles.

In technology, we can await the introduction of smartphones with foldable screens, more Artificial Intelligence driven devices, Fifth Generation cellular data (5G), better 3D printers, better artificial meat, smart fabrics and better transport options. Whether you are into global politics or new gadgets, 2019 will be an interesting year to watch. 


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