2022: The World This Year

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2022: The World This Year
Rest in Peace; Queen Elizabeth. Mikhail Gorbachev, Pelé...

  Sethuraman Nadarajan

TWTW#196, 31 December 2022, Vol. 4, No. 45



Queen Elizabeth II

On 8 September, the Queen of the United Kingdom and other commonwealth realms, Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (96) passed away. She was on the throne for over 70 years. She was the longest British monarch. More than 170 Prime ministers served across the UK and the Commonwealth during her reign. She participated in World War II as a driver and mechanic in ATS, and an honorary junior commander. Dozens of countries colonized by the British Empire gained independence under Queen Elizabeth. She was the first British monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland in 2011, since its independence from London. She made a powerful gesture of reconciliation to Britain's colonial past and expressed regret over centuries of conflict during her visit to Ireland. In 2013, she approved the ‘Succession to the Throne Act,’ which gives both sons and daughters equal rights to the throne. In her coronation oath, she promised to serve till death which she has fulfilled. 

Mikhail Gorbachev

On 30 August, the former head of state of Soviet Union Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev (91) passed away. He was the eighth and the last leader of the Soviet Union before its disintegration. He was in power from 1985 to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Gorbachev was known to be different from his predecessors and friendly to the civilians. Gorbachev improved the relations between the West and the Soviets. With the US President Ronald Reagan, Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) to eliminate all nuclear and conventional missiles. In 1989, he withdrew the USSR military from Afghanistan after nine years. In the same year, Gorbachev removed the Berlin Wall that was dividing East and West Germany. Gorbachev introduced Glasnost as the answer to the Perestroika movement in the late 1980s. Glasnost called for a more open and consultiave governance, leading to the democratization of policy-making. Glasnost and Perestroika are considered the cause of the collapse of the Eastern bloc, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War. Gorbachev is popularly seen as a champion of democracy and peace in Russia.  

Shinzo Abe

On 8 July, Shinzo Abe (67), was shot dead by Tetsuya Yamagami, a former member of the Japanese self-defense maritime forces,  using a homemade gun. The incident occured when Abe was delivering a campaign speech near Yamato-Saidaiji Station, Nara, Japan. Abe was the longest-serving Prime Minister of Japan, serving four terms. He is considered one of Japan’s most influential politicians due to the initiatives taken in strengthening Japan’s self-defence forces and Japan-US relationships. His speech at the Indian Parliament in 2007 regarding the “Confluence of the two seas” is considered the guiding principle of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” His vision saw the critical role of the US, India, Japan, and Australia in the Indo-Pacific region which was later established as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad. Abe was the first leader to introduce Japan’s “National Security Strategy,” in 2013. He was instrumental in protecting Japan from an economic recession through his three-pronged Economic strategy, popularly known as ‘Abenomics.’ He made the 2020 Tokyo Olympics possible. The Japanese Government still follows in Abe’s footsteps.

Madeleine Albright

On 23 March, the former diplomat, political scientist, and the first woman US Secretary of State, Madeleine Jana Korbel Albright (84) passed away. She was also the US Ambassador to the UN for four years. Albright was of Czechoslovakian origin, who made significant contributions to the representation of women in top executive positions. In 1995 at the UN, she led the American delegation to the conference on ‘Women in Beijing.’ She called on the US to intervene in the Bosnian War in 1995. Albright played a key role in persuading Clinton to take military action against Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic over his treatment of Kosovo`s Ethnic-Albanian population in 1999. During her term, she worked to expand NATO to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.Under her leadership, the US focused on reducing nuclear proliferation and increasing human rights initiatives across the world. In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.

Jiang Zemin

On 30 November, the former President of China and the former Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Jiang Zemin (96) passed away. He was the fifth President of the People’s Republic of China between 1993 and 2003. He was the Chairman of the Central Military Commission between 1989 and 2004. In 1989, Jiang was chosen to lead China following the Tiananmen Square crackdown. He introduced many reforms to the economic order in China and promoted a centrally controlled socialist economy. Important among them were the reforms of state-owned enterprises, foreign exchange controls, real estate and the banking sector. Jiang has made a strong impression as a liberal, open and flexible Chinese leader. Meeting the US President Clinton in 1998  helped ease the third Taiwan crisis. The Hong Kong and Macau handover, and his bid for the 2008 Olympics are seen as some of  Jiang’s diplomatic achievements. China’s ties with the West improved. China joined the  World Trade Organisation and further integrated its economy with the global economy, under his leadership. 


On 29 December, former Brazilian Footballer and the former Minister of Sports, Brazil,  Edson Arantes do Nascimento alias Pelé (82) passed away. Pelé is considered one of the most successful sportspersons of the 20th century. He was labelled as “the greatest” by FIFA. In his international career, he secured three FIFA world cups for Brazil. Speaking to a Brazilian television channel, he said: “If I had to stop or shout every time I was racially abused, every game would have to be stopped.” Pele helped Brazil to its long-awaited first World Cup victory and became the focus of debates about his country's football, nation and race. Pelé was awarded the International Peace Prize in 1978. During his tenure as Sports Minister, he fought corruption in Brazil’s football association.  He has worked with UNICEF for their causes and  supported various charities like Charity:Water, Pencils of Promise, ABC Trusts and others. In 2018, Pele founded his non-profit organisation, the Pele Foundation where he sought to empower poor and disenfranchised children around the world. Pelé’s diplomatic approach to Racial discrimination was noteworthy for his title ‘King.’

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