2017 is over. We bring in another year upon us. Some things will change, some will remain the same, but hope must continue unabated
Everyone will have a different set of memories from 2017 Some memories to cherish and others that one would rather forget. But that is the nature of the passage of time, which on this planet at least, is a constant. Sadly, some things did not appear to change, for the man’s ability to cause harm to his fellow man, with conflicts in Iraq and the unprecedented refugee situation concerning the Rohingyas. At the same time, we are finding new solutions to global problems, the rate of technological evolution has continued unabated and the dramatic improvement in access to the information superhighway thanks to cheaper data and cheaper devices is remarkable. But is that necessarily a good thing?
The fact that today one is able to unlock a mobile device with something as complex as their face is almost incomprehensible. The lives of many humans are now run by five-six inch back screens. While mobile phones, particularly smartphones, have transformed our lives, it has also skewed information access. People are regularly fed a diet of urban legends, myths and lies on a regular basis through their mobile devices. Without fact checking or any editorial control, 2017 has seen the rise of ‘fake news’ and while US President Donald Trump might lament that he has been a victim, famous individuals like himself have played a role in perpetuating biased information. While technology companies, such as Facebook and Google, refuse to step up to the plate and take responsibility, they have gutted traditional media such as news- papers and television channels, with many opinion-driven websites masquerading as news sources. The situation for smaller newspapers, such as this one, have become tighter from a financial point of view. However, that does not mean that future is all doom and gloom. There will be interesting new models that emerge and we believe a desire from the public at large to return to proper news and trustable news sources. However, relentless attacks on the credibility of the media by those in power is a problem and that is a problem not isolated to Trump. Some of this is the media’s own doing, with most publications and television channels being skewed to the Left side of politics, but that is the nature of the beast, given the educational background of most people in newsrooms. That said, The Pioneer is proud of our stance towards the Right side of the political spectrum and it is one that we will continue to support, going forward, and we hope our readers will too.
For a multitude of reasons, some likely personal and some to bury a story, several journalists have paid with their lives in India. While the murder of Gauri Lankesh gamered headlines, as vested interests tried to politicise her murder without a shred of evidence, several reporters have been brutally gunned down across India like Naveen Gupta and Rajesh Mishra, both killed in Uttar Pradesh. This is a worrying trend and while many journalists knowingly put themselves in danger in war zones and in natural disasters, no journalist should die for doing their job. While India still has a relatively free media, it is unfortunately a dangerous country to be a reporter. We mourn the deaths of all journalists who died on the job in India and the rest of the world. We hope that Governments take steps to ensure their safety and pursue their attackers as well as wishing that 2018 is a safer year for all those in this profession.
2017 was also a dramatic year in politics and across the world. In many parts of Europe, there was the rise of anti-immigrant extremist parties, particularly in post- Communist East Europe, which did not have much im migration in the past. But even in Austria and Germany, parties like the Freedom Party and the Alternative for Germany, made significant electoral inroads and the electorate got frustrated with wave after wave of immigrants fleeing wars and poverty, highlighting the continued in equaltyin global development. In South America, Brazil was in political turmoil and in Venezuela, which is racked by economic strife, violence erupted on the streets. In South Africa, allegations of corruption, ironically facilitated by a Saharanpur-based family, the Guptas, have divided the ruling African National Congress. Elections in Nepal have cement- ed the power of some elite and brought in persons to power with a pro-Chinese tilt.In China, India’s giant Eastern rival, President Xi Jinping consolidated his grip on power and his One Belt, One Road initiative marketed as a ‘New Marshall Plan’ but which in reality is a debt-trap for countries became a topic of global conversation about China’s new found muscle and its attempt to become a Middle Kingdom once more.
In India too, politics bookended 2017. The dramatic results of the Uttar Pradesh election, which saw the BJP sweep to more, was contrasted by the narrow win the party had in Guiarat where they held on to power in the western industrial power- house for another five years. With the continuing impact of demonetisation and the impact of a haphazardimplementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), we believe that both measures were important in this Governments attempts to formalise the economy. But while demonetisation gave it electoral dividends, GST almost sank the BJP’s boat. A rejuvenated Rahul Gandhi, now president of the Indian National Congress, has managed to a degree to shed his image of being a ‘Clown Prince’ and is responding to the BJP. With major State elections coming up in 2018, he could make things interesting. But the possibility of a winter 2018 General Election with several States going to the polls around the same time.
Whatever happens, we will have to wait and see in India and across the world. But we could rest assured that the entertainment industry will continue to find great new ways to keep our emotions flowing. 2017 saw the continued rise of video streaming services and video consumption in India. By being able to go to their audiences directly, it isn’t just politicians who have gained but also entertainment stars. But the entertainment industry also needed to look inward. In Hollywood, stories of rampant sexual abuse made international headlines and sank the careers of some of the industry’s biggest names such as harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. In India, the controversyover nepotism drew unnecessary debate towards the industry but was one that needed to be asked. But the industry also delivered some great hits this year and 2018 should be a banner year as well.
Whatever happens, there will be some givens in 2018. There will be death, tragedy and suffering but there will also be incredible stories of heroism as well as others than cheer our soul. There will be political pitfalls for some and stunning victories for others. New technologies will emerge that we could have conceived a few years ago. And this newspaper will record them all for posterity. We wish each and every one of you a happy and prosperous 2018.