The concept of a yearly cycle has gone through several modifications until it has assumed an acceptable frame in different lands, cultures and climes. Yet the most scientific and accurate count of a year has been made possible on the basis of solar movement on the celestial sphere. There are lunar calendars as well, that dates months on the basis of cycles of the moon's phases. So the solar calendar, famously known as the Gregorian calendar because it was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, is now the internationally accepted one.
Otherwise there is debate whether time and space exist independent of minds. The eternal flow of time happens in the mind and days, weeks, months and years are merely a creation of the human mind. Yet it is one of the most important and wonderful creations mankind has to its credit. Although travelling back into the past seems rationally impossible, about one thing, however, there is no doubt that the seasons set in the same order and their cyclic repetition are quite clear to senses. It is this framework of something infinite that appears reassuring to the finite man.
No wonder, people in their short stay on this planet need to identify themselves, take inspiration, pleasure from and reflect on incidents or events of great importance, profound sadness or happiness. There are however few occasions when the world community rejoices over something considered a historic landmark.
The New Year's Day on the Gregorian Calendar is one such event over which people the world over rejoice. The reason is quite simple. It is an occasion when the transient life renews its bonding with time and the planet. Renewal of life is so important for man because without it the monotonous and mundane world can be overly stressful. Within the framework of a year, one tries to visualise the shape life will take. Through the transition of a year, man rearranges life's strategies in order to overcome past year's weaknesses and failures.
This is why there is a conscious effort to get off to a nice start on the first day of a New Year. Admittedly, celebrations of the New Year in this part of the world have taken diverse but aesthetically pleasing vistas. Whether it is the Bangalees or the ethnic communities in the hilly regions, the colourful and artistic celebration on the New Year's Day has made quite an impression. Unfortunately, in contrast to this, the rowdy frolicking on the eve of the New Year seems to have been a late addition -one that has been more of an aberration than anything charming and dignified.
Admittedly, cultural divides are better preserved in the interest of multicultural diversification. Human civilisation is wonderful with its diverse cultures and traditions. The internationally accepted New Year's Day thus does not allow the different peoples to celebrate the occasion in the same manner. But there is no harm in accepting and incorporating what is good and culturally enriching from others.
The importance of celebration of the occasion lies in the fact that the year ahead turns out to be wonderful by all measures. However, for practical persons the present and the future cannot take shape without a solid foundation. That foundation is the immediate past year. In its womb the seeds of the year next germinate only to grow tall for subsequent fruition.
From that point of view, the world in general did not quite rise up to the expectation except in a very few limited areas. The most alarming development was the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or simply IS. As a political hotbed, the Middle-east saw the military conflicts escalate from Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria and Libya. The Palestine-Israel conflict turned worse with the Jewish state showing signs of getting more hawkish.
Only after the bombing of a Russian passenger jet and the deadly attack in Paris, did Europe and Russia found a meeting point. After some grumbling, the United States also accepted the Russian role in the fight against the IS. Thus far, such a coalition against the IS looks positive but there are issues over which opinions differ. Will the parties be able to close ranks and bring peace there this year? It depends on how the big players behave. So far signs are not optimistic as they had opted for military showdown in the year gone by.
Meanwhile the greatest human migration from the Middle-east after the World War II has painted a most cruel, barbaric and nauseating face of modern civilisation. This has been triggered by the military conflicts in Syria and elsewhere.
Against such a depressing development, the most outstanding development to have taken place in 2015 was the agreement at the Paris Climate Summit. The pledge ultimately made by developed countries to mend their habits in order to keep global temperature not more 1.5 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial level is refreshing news. The last quarter of the last month of 2015 saw severe tornadoes in the USA, unprecedented floods in Latin America and Britain and even a quake in northern parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. But above all natural calamities the most devastating was the quake that struck Nepal.
It seems the Earth is more in convulsion than before and unless the human race can arrest the temperature rise, it will invite calamities of apocalyptical proportion in the future. This year will provide the world communities to act on the Paris accord and hopefully the leaders will not let their people down.
If the Paris climate deal was a success, the World Trade Organisation Conference in Nairobi was a total disappointment. The hope that developing nations would get a favourable deal to have access for their commodities to markets of the developed countries proved misplaced. The US, on the other hand went for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). No wonder, Bangladesh's generalised system of preference (GSP) facility in the bilateral trade with the US is yet to be restored.
It is against such a not so favourable international business environment, this country has done quite well. It had enjoyed a more or less politically peaceful environment. So it has ended the year on a positive note of GDP (gross domestic product) growth of 6.5 per cent with a hint at 7.0 per cent this year. There was great tragedy so far as its illegal human migration to some South-East Asian countries are concerned. Despite this, the remittance sent rose to record level.
The country has inked a number of important accords with its partners in progress. In regional cooperation too, its achievements in terms of trade and service have been ground-breaking. Power import and bandwidth export are two examples to cite. Domestically, the start of the physical work of the Padma bridge gives the impression of a more confident Bangladesh.
Such confidence however has not been given a better expression anywhere other than in cricket. For the first time in its history, Bangladesh has won against five teams in the One-day International (ODI) series. The teams include Pakistan, India and South Africa. This is inspirational at its finest. Bolstered by similar inspiration the country will one day earn laurels in various branches of knowledge. Let 2016 be a defining year for this to happen.