Elections, Protests, Coronavirus, Ayodhya's Ram Temple: Major events that dominated 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic globally hogged headlines in 2020.

Elections, Protests, Coronavirus, Ayodhya's Ram Temple: Major events that dominated 2020

Not since World War II has a single phenomenon dominated the news worldwide as the COVID-19 pandemic has in 2020. However, there were several major events that took place in India and around the globe in 2020.

In India, the foundation stone was laid for the Ayodhya Ram Temple, several elections were conducted and many protests held. In the United States, a tumultuous presidential election and a wave of protests over racial injustice also drew relentless coverage.

Some other major events of 2020:

* US election: In November, the world turned its eyes towards the US presidential election which witnessed a neck-to-neck fight between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. In the race, Biden has been chosen as the next US president, effectively ending President Trump`s frenzied but failing attempt to overturn his loss in the November 3 election. Election results show Biden, the Democratic former vice president, won 306 electoral votes - exceeding the 270 needed to win - after four years under the Republican Trump. Biden and running mate Kamala Harris are due to take office on January 20.

Under a complicated system dating back to the 1780s, a candidate becomes U.S. president not by winning a majority of the popular vote but through an Electoral College system, which allots electoral votes to the 50 states and the District of Columbia largely based on their population.  At 78, Biden will be the oldest person to become U.S. president.

* Coronavirus: At least 1,616,191 people globally have died from COVID-19 and 72,446,947 have been infected by the novel coronavirus that causes it, following an outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organization referred to it as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Though the outbreak started in China, it has now reached 191 countries and territories. The US has recorded the highest number of cases at 16,293,597; followed by India at 9,884,100, and Brazil at 6,901,952. The US also recorded the highest fatalities at 299,455; followed by Brazil at 181,402 deaths and India at 143,355. 

* Bihar election: The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) registered a victory in the Bihar assembly election and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar once again sat on the chair of the Chief Minister. This was the seventh time Nitish Kumar became the Chief Minister of the state. After the ruling alliance's victory, Nitish Kumar took to Twitter to thank the people of the state and he also expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his co-operation.

The JD(U) chief got the full backing of all constituents of the NDA, including the BJP, which has outperformed his party in the assembly elections. The BJP secured 74 seats while the JD (U) managed only 143. In addition, the NDA in Bihar includes former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM(S) and Bollywood technician-turned-politician Mukesh Sahni's VIP which have won four seats each.

* Delhi election: AAP party chief Arvind Kejriwal took oath as the chief minister of Delhi on February 16, 2020, for the third time at the Ramlila Maidan Ground. Kejriwal was on February 12, 2020, elected the leader of the legislative party by newly-elected party legislators. Kejriwal's oath-taking ceremony at the Ramlila Maidan also assumed significance as it was from this ground that he along with noted anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare led a massive anti-corruption agitation. Kejriwal has taken oath as the chief minister twice before at the same venue. The Aam Aadmi Party swept the Delhi Assembly election 2020, bagging 62 out 70 seats and decimating its rivals BJP and Congress. The BJP bagged eight seats, while the Congress failed to open its account and party's 62 candidates lost their deposit.

* CAA protests: Protests erupted in different parts of the country in the fag end of 2019 and continued in 2020 over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh if they entered India on or before December 31, 2014. People protested against the CAA in Delhi`s Shaheen Bagh area for over a month.

Riots broke out at many places in north-east Delhi in February 2020, in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The violence erupted on February 22 but the riots continued for 4 days, claiming 53 lives and around 600 people were injured. Several dead bodies were retrieved from a nullah, where mutilated bodies were dumped.

The Delhi riots were triggered through social media, and this medium was used as a weapon to execute the conspiracy as per the charge sheet filed by Delhi Police's Special Cell. It exposed as to how WhatsApp Groups, Facebook posts, and Twitter messages were used to incite the riots. It also mentions the names of groups like Jamia Coordination Committee, Warrior, Khidmat, Auraton ka Inquilab, Delhi Protest Support Group (DPSG), Save Constitution that were used to trigger the riots in Delhi.

* Farmers' protests: In the ongoing farmers' protests, farmer leaders on December 14 went on a daylong hunger strike and their colleagues demonstrated in different parts of the country to push for a rollback of the new farm laws. On Day 19 of the protest at Delhi's border points, agriculturalists from multiple states in the north intensified their movement, particularly at Delhi's gateways.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said the government is engaging with them to decide on the next date of talks--deadlocked after five rounds. The government is ready for discussion anytime and farmer leaders have to "decide and convey" when they are ready for the next meeting, added Tomar, who is leading the negotiations with 40 farmer unions along with Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce and Industries Som Parkash.

The Singhu border, ground zero of the snowballing protests, saw hundreds blocking highways from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan leading to Delhi and thousands more dug in their heels at the various protest sites. Undeterred by the cold, protesters at Tikri, Ghazipur and Singhu said they were determined not to yield until their demand was met. Farmer unions said demonstrations were held at district headquarters across the country to push for a repeal of the laws. A farmer leader claimed district-level protests were held in various states, including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bihar.

* Ayodhya Ram Temple: Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted the 'Bhoomi Pujan' and laid the foundation stone for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on August 5, 2020. Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra trust had announced in September that Ram Temple will have 1,200 pillars which will go 200 feet deep. It is expected that the Ram Mandir would be 161 feet tall.

According to Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, the Ram Temple in Ayodhya will be built as per India's ancient and traditional construction techniques. The Trust said in a tweet that the temple will be built to sustain earthquakes, storms and other natural calamities and no iron will be used in the construction of the historic temple. It has said that it will take financial aid from Lord Rama followers and will not use government money to construct the grand temple at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

* Babri Masjid acquittal: Nearly twenty-eight years after the Babri Masjid was demolished, the Special CBI court on September 30, 2020, acquitted all 32 accused in the case, including former deputy prime minister LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharti. The accused were acquitted citing "lack of evidence'' against them for hatching the alleged conspiracy. The court also observed that the 1992 demolition was not "pre-planned." Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti were earlier accused of hatching the conspiracy that led to the demolition of the 15th-century mosque in December 1992. They attended the proceedings via video conferencing. 26 out of 32 accused were present in the court, including Sadhvi Ritambhara, Sakshi Maharaj, Vinay Katiyar and Champat Rai Bansal.

In the Babri Mosque demolition case, an FIR was registered against a total of 49 people. Of these 17 have died, the remaining 32 are still accused. The seventeen accused in the case include Bal Thackeray, Ashok Singhal, Mahant Avaidyanath, Giriraj Kishore, and Vijayaraje Scindia who passed away during the trial. During the trial, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) produced 351 witnesses and 600 documents as evidence before the CBI court. 

Across the world, some seemingly epic events early in the year now seem distant, like President Donald Trump's impeachment trial and the January announcement by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that they were exiting their prominent roles in Britain's royal family. Just a few weeks later came the long-awaited Brexit, Britain's formal withdrawal from the European Union.

As most of the world battled COVID, armed conflicts broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in Ethiopia's Tigray region. Afghanistan's seemingly endless war dragged on, even as the warring sides warily edged into peace talks. Massive protests challenged the ruling powers in Belarus and Thailand. Due to past instances of sexual assault and sexual abuse, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein received a 23-year prison sentence.

* Hong Kong: China imposed a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong. The ensuing crackdown on dissent effectively voided China's pledge to allow the city to maintain rights promised for 50 years following the 1997 handover from British colonial rule. The arrests of leading opposition figures and the expulsion of local lawmakers -- prompting the entire opposition camp to resign led numerous countries to curtail legal cooperation with Hong Kong. The U.S. Imposed travel bans and financial sanctions.

* France-Muslims: The October beheading of a teacher by an 18-year-old Chechen outside Paris, followed by the killing of three people in Nice by a Tunisian migrant, prompted France to declare its highest-level security alert. The attacks came amid a trial over the 2015 massacre at the satiric newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons of Islam's prophet. The teacher was beheaded for showing the cartoons to his class while discussing freedom of expression -- vigorously defended by President Emmanuel Macron. The caricatures and Macron's stance fueled calls from Muslim nations to boycott French products; and some French Muslims resented the security crackdown.

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