Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Looking ahead to 2013

An ode to joy 
Like every year we went through our ups and downs in 2012, holding our breath, praying, cursing , rejoicing and regretting. But it was delightful to see that the year ended with a cry of joy (or rather the promise of a cry) when it was declared that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge was expecting a baby. Through sheer luck and extraordinary coincidence, prince William a kind of heir to the British throne and Kate's husband, is expecting the same! The British (or rather the world's) cup of joy runeth over and we should see a brighter and more prosperous 2013. David Cameroon, the British Prime Minister said that he was delighted at hearing the news. John Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the austerity (not abstinence)  measures seem to be paying at last and the end of recession can not be far now. The world will listen to every gurgle, splutter and burp coming from the royal mahogany cot and look once again at the future with a sense of optimism. Such good fortune while the British were still basking in the glory of the Olympian sun, and the Queen's diamond jubilee! Experts feel that this will make the British a less cynical nation and might transform the nation of stiff upper lips to one of drooping lower jaws.
General  Petraeus, who moved a while ago from Pentagon to CIA, apparently left his pants behind and was caught without them, having an affair with his biographer.  "I wasn't content just having my name on the book, and wanted to get under the covers," said Paula Broadwell, his biographer.  It was a shirtless FBI agent who blew the whistle on the trouser less General Petraeus. The story captivated the American public's attention, while the nation was having its pants taken in Afghanistan. 

A number of other countries competed to put forward their own sex scandals. In UK news channel BBC was itself in the news, when it accused one who didn't of sexual offences, and broadcasted Christmas tributes to the one who did it. Thankfully Jimmy Saville, the one who did it, is dead and severely handicapped in doing it again. 

New leadership

After a grueling electoral battle with Mitt Romney, Barack Obama won the tenancy of the White House for four more years. Mitt put up a brave fight and spent a lot of money to evict Obama but failed to win favour of  "binders full of women", and hordes of Asians and non-whites who set their faith in Obama. Obama's acceptance speech saw a change of sponsor from Metal Can Company (and hence the slogan -Yes, we can) to American Best Foods (the Best for America is yet to come). Perpetually being scolded by his wife Michele for not listening to her, Obama embraced her on Twitter and proudly announced "Four more ears".  The Economist urged him to follow this with an embrace of a Republican.

New leadership also surfaced in the most important country in the world and Xi Jin Pin replaced Hu, while Wen looked on. Bent on making a difference, Xi started by setting a record for the shortest speech delivered by a senior Chinese leader. He announced, to the amazement of everyone, that the mission of the party was to look after the needs of the people. He also made the political leaders tongue tied by banning "empty talk" and red carpet receptions, with bouquets, banquets, expensive Chinese liquor and smiling children. The share price of all Chinese white spirits companies has been coming down and orphanages putting up more smiling children for adoption after the announcement.

In Russia, Vladamir Putin decided that Russia is yet to realize its full Putintial and moved back into the presidential palace.  A man called Hollande was elected leader, not of the Netherlands, but France, and is showing Dutch courage by attempting to raise the tax rate of on the wealthiest French to 75% of their income.
Liberal world

It was a good year for GLTB's as three states in America voted to legalise marriage between partners of the same sex. Several other states are expected to follow suit, while some are considering gay marriages to be the only legal marriages in their territories. Some American states changed their attitude towards marijuana usage and said that they will not try to shoot or blow up recreational users of the drug. The Netherlands on the other hand demanded a proof of Dutch citizenship before serving the stuff in its cafes, saying that it was worried about crime, though it did push tourism (as well as the tourists) to a new "high".

Banking in a fine fettle

That everything was fine with the world's banks, was proven by the fact that UBS paid nearly a billion dollars in fines to the regulators for fixing something called LIBOR. HSBC and Standard Chartered also paid over a billion each in a fine gesture to help the struggling US economy under the guise of a punishment for money laundering.

Apple and Siri 

It was a fruitful year for Apple, when it shortly became the firm with the largest market capitalization ever. As it conquered and expanded to new markets, it learnt their ways and talk and Siri started speaking Chinese when iOS 6 was released. To the delight of the Chinese iPhone users, Siri was very well informed about the location of brothels and promptly named several prominent establishments when asked "where can I find a prostitute?". This service has since been suspended and the phone now Siriously reprimands the enquirers on their cheekiness.

Bedlam in India

Indians, of course, do not have sex but still somehow manage to produce a prodigious number of babies. Many of these babies grow to become adults and need jobs which makes it imperative that the country registers a decent level of economic growth. India lost its secular momentum and reverted closer to the Hindu rate of growth. The Prime Minister made desperate efforts including allowing direct foreign investments from the likes of Walmart in retail trade. Opposition parties, true to their name, opposed this initiative (as they opposed everything else - good or bad - it is not for nothing that they are called opposition) saying that Walmart will eat the lunch of small shop owners by stealing their shoppers. 

Ending the year in style

The whole world rocked to the beat of Gangnam style from Park Jae-sang, better known as PSY, whose video clocked a billion hits on YouTube. Another young Korean, a little to the North, called Kim Jong Un, son of the Great leader Kim Jong Il (who passed away last year)  was declared the most handsome man by the satirical news channel called the Onion, which was widely and seriously endorsed by the China media. Kim swore to keep his country fit by allowing only low calorie diets for the country's starving people. It is rumoured that he might inadvertently succeed in shooting a rocket to the moon, by attempting to fire one at South Korea. 

Cliff-hanger finish

it was a cliff-hanger finish to the year. Republicans were refusing to accept any tax increases, particularly for the rich, who they argue work harder than the poor and hence deserve more tax breaks, and the Democrats were balking at any spending cuts. Speaker of the House John Boehner, a ski enthusiast, dismissed the cliff as a mild slope and decided to use it to ski down for his new year holiday. To most others, however, it was clear that the cliff will be very sharp indeed. Despite sovereign claims it is not just an American cliff, the whole world would to enjoy the precipice. As we enter 2013 we look forward to being taken for a collective ride - you don't have to have an American passport or even a green card to enjoy the spectacle and the ride. 
Written by Ashok Sethi