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That was 2008

Barack Obama broke the racial barrier and became the first African-American to be elected US President. First, he was involved in a year-long bitter battle with Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic Party candidature for the presidential election, writes Nibandh Vinod.

world Updated: Dec 31, 2008 00:49 IST
Nibandh Vinod

Barack Obama broke the racial barrier and became the first African-American to be elected US President. First, he was involved in a year-long bitter battle with Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic Party candidature for the presidential election. Then, he was successful in overcoming Republican candidate John McCain, winning an electoral landslide.

It was also the first time two sitting senators, Obama (Illinois) and McCain (Arizona) ran against each other. In addition, 2008 was the first election since 1952 in which neither the incumbent president nor the incumbent vice president was a candidate.

Voter turnout was also the highest in 40 years.

Change also took place in our neighbourhood:

In February, two months after former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, her Pakistan People’s Party and other opposition groups inflicted a resounding defeat on the government of then president Pervez Musharraf in parliamentary elections. Musharraf was forced out from office in August, and replaced by Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto’s husband, in September.

Nepal went from Himalayan kingdom to republic, as elections brought to an end the 239-year-old monarchy. Maoist leader Prachanda was voted in as prime minister on August 15.

Thailand witnessed a year of political chaos, led by one prime minister after another in quick succession.

The nation saw three PMs in four months.

In Bangladesh the year-end election brought Sheikh Hasina in power, who was once exiled from the country.

In Russia, Dmitry Medvedev was sworn in as president and nominated his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, as prime minister, ushering in an unprecedented period of dual rule.

In Cuba, an ill Fidel Castro ceded presidency to his brother Raul.

Change was also to be seen in the United Nations’ policy in dealing with Somali pirates, thanks to India. After the Indian Navy sank pirate's ship in the Gulf of Aden, the UN passed a resolution allowing international forces to use the waters of Somalia to attack pirates.

In the end, like the last week of the past few years, the Christmas to New Year's Eve period has delivered another shock.

After the 2003 Iran earthquake killed 20,000, the 2004 tsunami 2,75,000, the 2005 US floods, which were its worst in 20 years, the 2006 hanging of overthrown Iraqi president Saddam Hussein that led to increased sectarian violence, the 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the last week of 2008 saw over 300 Palestinians being killed in Israeli air strikes.

Although conflicts continue to divide the world, the one hope that unites us as we enter the New Year, is that of CHANGE. For the better.