At the risk of offending Mr. Nassem Nicholas Taleb many have described 2016 as “Year of Black Swans”. No doubt there were many one off events that shook the world but nevertheless the bygone year can more aptly be described as “Year of Minnows”. In sports, economics and politics, Minnows out strategized, out maneuvered and out witted seasoned adversaries to turn winners.
In sports, Ms. P V Sindhu took the Nation by storm after winning the badminton silver medal in 2016 Rio Olympics. She finished much ahead of her fancied and storied rival Ms. Saina Nehwal who crashed out in the early rounds. Mr. Karun Nair, an unknown thus far in world of cricket, became an overnight celebrity in the cricket crazy nation by becoming only the third batsman in history of the game to score a triple hundred as his first three figure knock joining the illustrious West Indian Sir Garfield Sobers and the widely known Australian great Mr. Bob Simpson. In Euro 2016, Iceland with a country of just hundred footballers, gave a run for their money to more serious rivals while Portugal, a perennial also ran, won the title.
On the other side of the Globe, two of three professional championships were claimed by teams that have not been winners for decades. King James finally delivered Cleveland its first Basketball Championship since the fifties while the Chicago Cubs also made a classic comeback from behind victory to be crowned as Baseball Champion after a century of failed attempts.
In politics Mr. Donald Trump, much described as a light weight, will soon assume office of the President of United States in what can be deemed as a mega upset. Nobody expected Mr. Trump to get past a few primaries. The Clinton camp as well as the Democratic Party is still in disbelief and denial while being yet to come on terms with its electoral defeat. Calls for revamping the Electoral College system were louder than before but was of no avail while recounting of votes in several states did not alter the outcome. Likewise in Great Britain, Ms. Theresa May, an unknown on the world stage, assumed office as Prime Minister following the resignation of Mr. David Cameron after majority of citizens voted to exit from the European Union.
In our own country, the Bharatiya Janata Party juggernaut was yet again stopped in the all important state of Bihar by the “Mahagathbandhan” – a grand alliance of three opposition parties. After its defeat in Delhi election, most analysts and party faithful, expected the BJP to have learnt the lesson of not being overly dependent on Mr. Narendra Modi for electoral success. Unfortunately after the rollicking defeat in Delhi election, the party did not decentralize and fought the Bihar election under the Modi-Amit Shah mascot. The massive defeat is yet another stringent reminder for party strategists and its leaders of the vulnerability of BJP in taking on non-Congress parties.
In economics, apocalyptic fear mongering preceded the much heralded exit of India’s Central Bank Governor Mr. Raghuram Rajan. In the end it was a non-event as a low profile Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor assumed stewardship. Much to chagrin and disdain of Punditry, Indian economy never lost steam and Mr. Urjit Patel thus far seem to have proved himself to be a capable Governor who is worthy of the job. Also a Monetary Policy Committee, formation of which Mr. Raghuram Rajan tried to scuttle, assumed responsibility for price stability and inflation targeting. Although an economic doom was predicted by many, were Mr. Donald Trump to win the US Presidential election and Great Britain was to exit from European Union, no such reaction was seen in the world stock and commodities markets. A month after the US election and six months into Brexit, global markets are not only stable but have hit record highs, a slap in the face for a great many economic and political panjandrums. Only casualty thus far has been the British Currency which has seen a steep 25% decline but nevertheless it has been orderly.
Towards the end of the year, common man saved Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he delivered the mother-of-all economic reform – to scrap high denomination currency notes and replace them with newly minted ones. Fifty days into currency swap, a debate rages between all and sundry on the benefits and success of the reform. Although corrupt babus and bankers have had a deleterious effect on the exchange thus far, Mr. Modi indeed has gained the upper hand politically with majority of people still supporting the reform.
2016 has been the year of Minnows– underdogs and unknown in sports, inexperienced and novices in politics, untested and unproven in economics – have ascended to the top. Can and will they perform adeptly on world stage? Next time by this time we will have the answer. In the meantime, happy and prosperous 2017 to everyone!
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