Goodbye 2008 and hello 2009

Goodbye 2008 and hello 2009

Phew, what a year this has been!

Indian shares lost nearly half their market value. Investors were dizzy after several bouts of gut-wrenching volatility. The expensive trophy assets some local companies acquired abroad started resembling ticking time bombs. The optimistic belief that the Indian economy would continue to grow at 9% despite the global mess was shattered. There was an inflation scare in the middle of the year and deflation fears in its dying moments. The government mismanaged public finances. India continued to be targeted by terrorists based in Pakistan. We won three medals at the Beijing Olympics, a record. Kenya won 14.

The rest of the world had an even tougher year. The Western financial system tumbled into its worst crisis in 75 years. Top-notch investment banks were sold for a pittance, allowed to fail or bailed out with taxpayer money. China barely recovered from its Olympics party before its economy got into a mess and there were street protests on its southern provinces. Oil prices soared and then crashed. Global trade shrank. The shadow of protectionism loomed. People started reading the works of John Maynard Keynes, and even Karl Marx in some instances.

There is no doubt that 2008 was dominated by dark news. But there was more to the year. Ratan Tata unveiled the world’s cheapest car. India signed a landmark nuclear deal with the US. Indian space scientists sent a spacecraft into the moon’s orbit for a mere $80 million. America elected its first black president. The military surge in Iraq helped bring some stability to that unfortunate country. Scientists across the world—including India—collaborated in Geneva to answer the big questions on the nature of matter.

The year 2009 is also likely to be tough as economies falter, unemployment rises and political cracks appear in some nations dependent on oil and other commodities. But people around the world will not give up: Workers, scientists, entrepreneurs and artists will struggle to create and discover. As Charles Darwin, whose revolutionary research on evolution will turn 150 in 2009, reminded us: survival depends on how well you adapt.

Will 2009 provide reason for hope? Write to us at