2022 could be defined as the year of freedom as Covid cases stooped to its lowest and restrictions eased. But political instability resonated in hardships and humanitarian sufferings across the world. Russia invading Ukraine, worldwide economic gloom, inflation, and various other factors delivered a year never experienced before. Be it Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover or actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock on the Oscars stage, 2022 will be remembered as an eventful one. Here are the top 10 controversies that made 2022 memorable:
Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover
One of the biggest corporate acquisitions of 2022 has been billionaire Elon Musk’s “hostile” takeover of microblogging platform Twitter. The $44 billion deal that saw his to-and-fro over bots issue ended with him taking over the company in October. “Let that sink in,” tweeted Musk on October 27 with a video of him entering the Twitter headquarters with a sink, literally. Controversies, however, persist with him continuing with radical changes to Twitter, including layoffs and the blue tick feature.
Iran Protests Over Mahsa Amini Death
Massive protests rocked Iran with its tremors felt worldwide over the September 16 custodial death of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurd who had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women. In symbolic protests, women cut their hair and burned down their hijab on camera. Women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes under Islamic law in Iran. Persecution of the protesters continue in Iran, including imprisonment and execution.
China’s Zero-Covid Policy
China’s radical zero-Covid policy focussed on hardline restrictions even over handful of cases. These include confining millions of people for weeks or months, triggering public frustrations and criticism. Rare public protests rocked the country in November after multiple deaths in a deadly fire, mostly because victims could not escape due to strict rules. Restrictions have now been eased but experts believe the zero-tolerance approach have cost the Chinese their herd immunity.
The ongoing war began with Russian forces invading Ukraine in February, billed as a “special military operation” by Moscow that said its aim was to “demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine”. Thousands have been killed and millions displaced across Ukraine, but Russia denies its forces targeted civilians. The Western nations have backed Ukraine and defence aid poured in. Months of diplomacy, threats, and sanctions later, hope is all that persists as the world prays for peace in 2023.
The Oscars Slap
This year’s Academy Awards was memorable for a rather different reason. Actor Will Smith had slapped comedian Chris Rock on the Oscars stage for joking about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. What prompted the slap was Rock cracking a joke comparing Jada’s tightly cropped hair to Demi Moore’s appearance in the film “G.I. Jane”. Jada, an actor, suffers from suffers from alopecia which causes hair loss. Smith later apologised to Rock and his family in an Instagram video.
US Diplomat’s Taiwan Visit
US-China relations witnessed a steep escalation this year as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, which Beijing views as its own territory. She was the highest-ranking elected US official to visit Taiwan in decades. The August visit witnessed China vowing “targeted military actions” and sending fighter jets across Taiwan’s air defence zone. Another US Congressional delegation visited Taiwan’s de-facto capital Taipei days after that.
Imran Khan And Pakistan Crisis
Imran Khan, who heads the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, was ousted as the Prime Minister of Pakistan in April. He became the first Pakistan PM to lose a no-trust vote. Notably, no Pakistani PM has ever seen a full five-year term. Mr Khan had alleged his government was brought down due to US “conspiracy” as he refused to back the US and Europe on global issues against Russia and China. The US, however, has rejected Mr Khan’s claims.
UK Political Crisis
The UK wrapped up its months of political turbulence in October with Rishi Sunak becoming the first Indian-origin Prime Minister of the country. Less than two months ago, Liz Truss had become the Prime Minister, defeating Mr Sunak, but quit as the shortest-lived UK premier as her economic plans sent shockwaves through the markets and divided her party. Her predecessor Boris Johnson had quit in July after dozens of ministers resigned from his scandal-hit government.
Indian and Chinese troops clashed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang on December 9. No Indian soldier was killed or seriously injured as they sent back the People’s Liberation Army troops who tried to transgress the LAC, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told the Parliament. The two sides had last clashed in Ladakh’s Galwan in 2020 in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed. China officially reported four casualties but the exact figure could be higher.
Tech World Layoffs
The tech world witnessed a major wave of layoffs this year with top IT companies trimming down a big chunk of their workforce amid rising inflation. These includes IT giants like Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter. There are speculations of mass layoffs at Google too.
The Kashmir Files
Filmmaker Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files movie courted controversy since its release this March. The film, based on the genocide and exodus of Kashmiri pandits from the Kashmir Valley, has been termed as a “propaganda” by the critics. Notably, Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, who headed the jury at the International Film Festival of India held last month in Goa, said the movie was “vulgar”. Except an Indian filmmaker in the jury, all others backed Lapid’s remarks.
US Abortion Ruling
The US Supreme Court this year overturned a landmark 1973 judgment that legalised abortion. In June, the top court ended the constitutional right to terminate pregnancy, in a move criticised by President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama and other global leaders. The Roe vs Wade ruling had enshrined a woman’s right to abortion but half a century later, individual states can now permit or restrict the procedure. Biden called it “a sad day for the court and the country.”
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