"I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind." — Albus Dumbledore

2016: The year when Xenophobia trumped all else

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December 22, 2016
It's official. Xenophobia is Dictionary.com's 2016 Word of the Year. 2016 has been a year full of unexpected and dismal events. A year when international politics plummeted to a new low and when words such as Xenophobia, Post-Truth, Alt-Right and Brexiteer were the most searched words online.

With so many unusual outcomes, this year perfectly justifies the existence of the insurance and risk management industry. Now that Christmas is almost here and the curtains are finally being drawn on this year, I was wondering that if I were to choose three major events from 2016, what would they be?


The United Kingdom is in a state of disarray. Living in France, I would consider this as one of the most important events of the year. On 23rd June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to opt out of the European Union. The "Leave" campaign won by 52% to 48% and all hell broke loose. From a significant rise in racism hate crimes to the stepping down of the leaders of the "Leave" campaign, the country has been engulfed in a veritable bedlam.


Apart from creating a cacophony of opinions, the Brexit has also cast a dark shadow on the future of the UK. If you break down the voting statistics according to the demographics, you will find that although England and Wales voted "Leave", 62% of the voters in Scotland and 56% of the voters in Northern Ireland voted to "Stay". A Scottish referendum was held in 2014 to decide whether Scotland should be a part of the UK or not. Although in 2014, 55% of the people voted to remain in the UK, there is a high probability that the present-day Scots might opt to exit the UK  in the case of a fresh referendum (which would probably be called 'Sexit'?).

Considering the unstable and volatile political state of affairs, some firms have already started planning to relocate to the European mainland as it would be more cost-effective for them to operate from inside the EU. With cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt and Paris trying to woo these firms, there is bound to be some (if not a lot) migration of talent from the UK to the EU.

With higher risk come higher returns. This might be an opportune moment for risk-loving investors. Finance thoughts apart, it would be interesting to see how the negotiations shape up in the coming years. Now with Theresa May struggling to salvage the situation and the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty yet to be triggered, the UK will remain in a state of uncertainty for at least the next two years. Unstable and uncertain are words that investors and businesses detest.


From a businessman and a reality TV show host to the president-elect of the largest economy in the world, Donald Trump took everyone by surprise on 9th November 2016, when he defeated Hillary Clinton in the US elections. When his campaign started, most of the people took him for a joke. The promises that he made and the things that he said hardly made any sense at all. He made all kinds of horrible remarks about women and about people from different races. There was hardly a soul on planet earth that Donald Trump had not offended directly or indirectly.

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop in Carmel, Indiana.
Image Courtesy: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Media pundits thought that he could never win. Political analysts thought that he could never win. Once again, the demographics had a lot to say. Nearly, 45% of the US did not vote. Maybe because most of them thought that he could never win. Well... and then he won.


The Syrian Civil War has been one of the deadliest conflicts in recent history. With the recent air strikes on Aleppo, it came to a point where it epitomises a monumental failure of mankind. Innocent civilians were caught in the friction between the state and the rebels. It has been so bad that even the UN addressed it as a "complete meltdown of humanity".

Looking at the Before vs After pictures of Aleppo, it is heartbreaking to see how such a magnificent historic city has been reduced to a pile of corpses and debris.

These photos courtesy of Ahmad al-Khatib, a media activist in Aleppo, show Syrian social worker Anas al-Basha, 24, dressed as a clown, while posing for a photograph in Aleppo, Syria
But with each such incident, there emerge heroes who put up a brave face against these atrocities and bring hope and cheer to people. Aleppo also had people such as Anas al-Basha, popularly know as the Clown of Aleppo, who decided to stay back in Aleppo to bring some cheer to the traumatised children.

The White Helmets on a mission

Then there are the Syrian Civil Defence volunteers, AKA the White Helmets, who have been relentlessly working to save and rescue people in the war-torn city. The White Helmets have saved more than 73,000 lives till date and were the favourites in contention for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016. Although they didn't win this year, you can still support them for winning the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize by signing an online petition (Click here for the link).

All good things come to an end. Thankfully, so do all the bad things. I can't say which bucket the year 2017 will fall into. But I wish it falls in the 'good' category.

Fingers Crossed! :)