By Md Khasimul Asif:
As 2011 winds up, one cannot forget the revolutionary movements that led to the most historic moments in change-making. From the liberation movements sweeping North Africa and the Middle East, to the natural disasters of Japan and East Africa, many have come together in the realization that it is time for a change. People and events, from all across the world, have made big news. Some of the newsmakers brought about a change while some resisted it.Â As the calendar year comes to an end , it is time to recall few of them.
Rupert Murdoch: The Australian-born media tycoon made the headlines this year, when News International, the UK-based newspaper publishing division of his global corporation, News Corporation, was involved in a phone hacking scandal. The allegations came flying in from members of the British royal family, top politicians, and Hollywood stars. The charges were eventually proven true and Murdoch then published a public apology. The event triggered a climate of introspection about unethical press practices and concentration of power in the hands of a connected few.
Col. Muammar GaddafiÂ : The late Libyan dictator spent several years in the headlines, for a number of disturbing reasons, before the events of October, 2011. Gadhafi’s government was rebelled, defeated and himself killed, in a raid on his hometown of Sirte, when his convoy was attacked by a combined force of local anti-Gadhafi soldiers and the U.S. Armed Forces. The death of the authoritarian leader, brings to an end a 41 year repressive era in Libyan history.
Silvio Berlusconi: The longest-serving post war Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi finally heeded calls for his resignation, stepping down from his post in November. The flamboyant politician, businessman and football aficionado, who could be relied on for interesting gaffes and his penchant for glamorous women, will always be remembered.
Although he did not fulfill his election promises, no Italian, since Mussolini, has made such a lasting impression on his people, who are not likely to forget his “Bunga Bunga” parties either.
Dominique Straus-Kahn: The former Chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was in the news in May, following accusations of sexual harassment by an employee at a New York Hotel and Tristan Banon, a writer and daughter of a family friend. Though he was released later ,this incident Â tarnished his image as he would have been the clear winner in a Socialist Party primary campaign, and the only Socialist who had a chance to beat Nicholas Sarkozy in presidential elections .TheÂ likely presidential frontrunner has damaged his home country’s image abroad and possibly his own political viability.
Julian Assange: As theÂ editor in chiefÂ and a creator ofÂ WikiLeaksÂ – a media website which publishes information fromÂ whistleblowers, he has succeeded in revealing classified documents pertaining to many controversies. Revealing confidential and classifiedÂ Iraq War and Afghan War documents about American war involvement made a Â number of political and media commentators, as well as current and former U.S. government officials,Â accuse Assange of terrorism. Wikileaks is now facing a major crisis due to financial woes due to a blockade imposed by many major American-based financial companies making it impossible for the site to get donations from around the world. Assange is also accused of sexual assault charges in Sweden and has been issued European Arrest Warrant to extradite him to Sweden. The revolutionary who stands for transparency in democracy and open governance has had a tough time this year.
Steve Jobs: Described as a visionary, pioneer and genius, perhaps one of the foremost in the field of business,innovation, and product design,Â and a man who had profoundly changed the face of the modern world,Â revolutionized at least six different industries,Â and who was an “exemplar for all chief executives”. His death few days after he resigned as the CEO of Apple, was widely mournedÂ and considered a loss to the world by commentators across the globe.
Kim Jong II: Â The former North Korea president who died in office due to a suspected heart attack was known for his totalitarian rule. North Korea is by many accounts the most isolated society on earth due to the Kim dynasty’s policies. Media outlets are state-run, there is no independent judiciary and human rights abuses are widespread.Â Ironically called the “Dear Leader” ,Kim Jong Il also interminably frustrated Western leaders with his pursuit of nuclear weapons and his repeated provocation of North Korea’s neighbors. Entire world especially the North Koreans are praying for a better administration by his successor.
Aung San Suu Kyi: This Burmese icon is called by US diplomats as Burma’s “powerful and principal interlocutor”.Â She has suffered confinement for two decades, assassination attempts and the quashing of her 1990 election to the prime minister’s seat by a military junta. Suu Kyi decided this year to formally rejoin politics in the military-dominated country after recent reforms by the current civilian administration .The country is excited to haveÂ the 66 year old democracy icon in mainstream politics.
Anna Hazare: Anna Hazare, has emerged as one of the biggest heroesÂ for middleÂ class Indians today. His highly publicised fast-unto-death galvanised people across the nation on theÂ problem of corruption. His hunger strike came at an opportune time; when India’s federal government was already under attack from opposition parties over a series of scandalsÂ that costÂ theÂ state close to $40bn.Many IndiansÂ foundÂ a common cause in Hazare’s call for an anti-corruption ombudsman, known asÂ Jan Lokpal Bill. After the success of the April hunger strike, “Anna”Â is a household name. However, he is unpopular among politicians for blackmailing and dictating the house.
Vijay Mallya: With one of the world’s most expensive yachts and a cricket and Formula One team, Kingfisher Airlines’ billionaire Chairman Vijay Mallya is known as “King of the Good Times”. This year India’s “Richard Branson”, a symbol of the hands-on, ambitious Indian entrepreneur, faces the possible collapse of his debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines. A severe cash crunch led to a string of other problems has led everyone to blame his extravagance for this misery
M.S.Dhoni : Known for his successful captaincy and wonderful track record as a player, Dhoni dismissed all the rumors that it is not his luck but sheer hardwork and skill that made him lead India to the pinnacles of success in Cricket after winning the World Cup in 2011.
Irom SharmilaChanu: Known as the “Iron Lady of Manipur“, SharmilaÂ is a civil rights activist, political activist, and poet from the Indian state ofÂ Manipur. She has been onÂ hunger strike for 11 years Â to demand that the Indian government repeal theÂ Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958Â (AFSPA), which she blames for violence in Manipur and other parts of India’s northeast.She was also involved in the wave ofÂ Anti-corruption movementÂ on invitation byÂ Anna HazareÂ this year.