Let us usher in New Year 2013 with hope expectation!

Let us usher in New Year 2013 with hope  expectation!

In ancient days, there was no New Year. They used to say ‘in the tenth year of the reign of Emperor such and such’. When a new Emperor comes, the clock is reset: It is year one and it continues until the Emperor dies and his reign ends. Then a new Emperor is installed and a new year begins..

The Gregorian calendar year of 2013 is the most widely used calendar in the world today. .The Gregorian calendar year of 2012 closes on 31 December and a New Year dawns on 1st January 2013.

It was first decreed by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom it was named, on 24 February 1582. The Gregorian calendar modifies the Julian calendar’s regular four-year cycle of leap years.

The last day of the Julian Calendar was Thursday, 4 October 1582 and this was followed by the first day of the Gregorian Calendar, Friday, 15 October 1582.

The Gregorian solar calendar is an arithmetical calendar. It counts days as the basic unit of time, grouping them into years of 365 or 366 days; and repeats completely every 146,097 days, which fill 400 years.

New Year’s Resolutions:

The New Year is always a time out with the old and in with the new in mind. New Year is like a fresh, empty canvas. It is up to us what we “paint” on this canvas of the year 2013.

A lot of people create New Year’s resolutions and declare to friends and family what they’d like to accomplish in the year ahead. In fact, most of New Year’s resolutions have continued, on average, may be a week or two.

New Year’s resolutions can be very positive resources. They can provide an opportunity for us to evaluate our progress in life. What we did last year and we can do this year. They can invigorate our lives with inspiring challenges and wonderful experiences to look forward to.

Just because things haven’t worked out well in the past with respect to New Year resolutions are no reasons to assume they never will. New Year’s Resolutions are wonderful mechanisms for creating new and exciting time ahead.

Events in brief during 2012

The Year 2012 saw war, grief, and achievement. The year saw worsening wars in Afghanistan, sectarian war fare in Iraq, change of government in a few Arab countries following Arab Spring, violent civil war in Syria, admission into UN of Palestine as a non-member observer, unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict Iran-US battle of words on nuclear programme, wide distrust between US- Latin American Left- governments.

In South Asia, increased terrorists’ attacks in Pakistan together with the Supreme Court at loggerheads with the Zardari government and “cold peace” between Indo and Pakistan, more authoritarian attitude of elected Sri Lanka government including impeachment of the Chief Justice, and tension between Maldives and India.

The year saw the change of governments in North East Asia. The Chinese leadership was changed in November and in December both South Korea and Japan elected new leaders. Russia has a new President and US also reelected President Obama.

G-20 forum took a central stage addressing some of the burning global issues during the year. Europe and the US have experienced financial crisis. The year saw shifting gradually economic power to Asia and US has accorded priority to Asia and President Obama visited Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia.

All hopes for a binding reduction of greenhouses gas agreement have revived in Doha Global Climate Conference and delegations decided that a global climate deal must adopted by 2015 to take effect in 2020

Deadly natural disasters in the form of typhoon and floods hit eastern states of US, Caribbean Islands, Philippines, Japan, England, and Sri Lanka and many blame the frequency of disasters due to global climate change.


The boycott of parliament by a major opposition party has continued and the government and the opposition blame each other for such stalemate. Public seem to be confused on their stances and their hope for a harmonious political environment has not been fulfilled.

Some actions of the government in Bangladesh are perceived as good and some are seen as controversial and the confrontational politics regrettably continues in the country.

There have been scandals in financial sectors, such as, Sonali Bank loan, Hallmark, Destiny, and share market. Financing of the Padma Bridge has become an issue between the World Bank and the government on the alleged conspiracy of corruption among high officials of the government.

Bangladesh has lost some of the well-known personalities during the year, such as business icon Samson Chowdhury, Professor Muzaffar Ahmed, Architect Muzharul Islam, former president Prof. Iajuddin , Prof. K.S. Murshid, Actor Subhas Dutta writer Humayun Ahmed and Nazrul singer Sohrab Hossain

It was a year Bangladesh people witnessed active diplomacy. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Turkey, Vietnam and Laos. Top leaders from Germany, Belarus and Thailand visited Bangladesh and strengthened bilateral relations. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, German Foreign Minister, US Secretary of State, British Secretary of State for DFID and Iran Deputy Foreign Minister visited Bangladesh.

Interaction with African countries including South Sudan has increased and there is a possibility of taking lease of land from some African countries for Bangladeshi farmers to grow crops for Bangladesh. New Bangladesh diplomatic missions have been opened in Brazil, Mexico, Mauritius and Portugal.

One of the most important events was the peaceful and fair solution of maritime boundary with Myanmar through International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea in March of this year. Bangladesh now can explore and exploit the resources of the Bay of Bengal in the eastern side of Bay of Bengal for its benefit and have access to the high seas including the continental shelf beyond 200 miles.

Bangladesh topped the list of countries of the UN peacekeeping missions with more than 10,000 peace keepers in 13 countries. Bangladesh’s environmental woes have been publicized by the leaders in various regional and international forums.

Hope for Year 2013:

To predict the likely events in national, regional and international scenes for 2013 is difficult because it is basically a guess work. Events are going to happen whether one likes it or not. However one may conceive some of one’s wishes with a pragmatic attitude.

In 2013, Bangladesh stands at a crossroads because it all depends on how political parties conduct themselves during the coming parliamentary elections to take place possibly in December 2013 and whether all parties accept the nature or type of the interim government under which election would be held.

People are eagerly waiting for the fair judgment War Crimes trial in Bangladesh and hope that disappearance of persons will end. The investigation on the killers of journalists of Sagar and his wife Runi will reveal who were the killers of the young journalists.
People expect good governance from an elected government. Governance ordinarily means the process of how decisions are made and how decisions are implemented. Transparency is the hallmark of good governance without corruption and nepotism.

Hopefully some of the outstanding issues with India, such as the agreement on sharing of waters of Teesta River, completion of border demarcation including the exchange of enclaves, opening of border hat bazaar and access of Bangladeshi goods without non-tariff barriers will be achieved.

In South Asia, change of leadership may take place in Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. . Sri Lanka has to convince the international community that they did not commit any international crimes against Tamil rebels.

The Bhutanese refugees, sheltered in Nepal, may receive due justice from dialogue between Nepal and Bhutan about their repatriation. Maldives government will remain unstable because its former President wants early election.

In the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinians negotiations may not find a mutually acceptable solution unless new settlements of Israelis are stopped in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
A new war between Hezbollah in Lebanon and Israel may erupt. Iraq’s unity government will remain unstable because of sectarian tensions.

The new leaders of Japan, South Korea and China would hopefully ease regional tension by engaging North Korea for its security concerns. Japan would settle the territorial disputes with both China and South Korea on rocky islands in East China Sea. China is expected to resolve the disputes with regard to group of islands in the South China Sea, particularly with the Philippines and Vietnam. All global powers including the US should ensure that China rises peacefully and is fully integrated with global security..

In Africa, hopefully civil wars in Congo and Somalia will end. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development –a blue print for Africa, will be implemented, according to free market specialists, on the basis of “three” opens—open economy, open societies and open governments.

In Latin America, the tension between the US and left-wing government may likely to be eased in the coming year.

Finally, the New Year 2013 hopefully will be much better place for living for people across the world. Global stability, resurgence of global economy and an interactive global order will be in place and promote economic progress, prosperity and peace for all.

By Barrister Harun ur Rashid
Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.

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