Come year end, we wait to see the lucky person picked by Time magazine as its Person of the Year 2022.
Typically, as someone who has had maximum impact on our lives in the year just passed, this person bags the front cover position, with large feature inside that is eagerly awaited and widely read.
Weeks before, there is much speculation as to who will get that honour.
Taking a cue from that magazine, I have been flirting with the idea of a similar feature for Indian Link, it being the most read magazine in the Indian community.
However, acknowledging that it is the editor’s prerogative to decide what goes on the front cover, I meekly settle for back cover instead. Since most of my articles are published on the last page in the column ‘BackChat’ I have developed a neighbourly relationship with the back cover, and look upon my proximity to that space as a pat on my back, and not a back-handed compliment.
Now for the back-breaking task of choosing the right candidate, so that my maiden foray doesn’t backfire. (There’s no point going back now, so I’d better front up to the challenge, hey?)
Time magazine has chosen personalities from all walks of life – politics, religion, science, arts, sport, etc. Although this gives me a wider field, I go to the politicians first. Because who else impacts our daily lives most, right, for good or bad.
The first name to pop up for (Not The) Person of the Year 2022, you may have guessed, is Moscow’s muscular man(iac), Vladimir Putin. Early February, after downing countless vodkas, he told his generals to prepare for a walk in the park. Little did they realise he meant Ukraine. He calculated that his ‘march’ would be but a week’s work. Thirty-odd weeks later, his troops continue to be mired there, bruised and battered. His (mis)adventure has impacted almost everyone around the globe, with food and fuel shortage resulting in zooming cost of living. He seems to be the unchallenged choice for my back cover.
Next up, a courageous challenger in his trademark grey T-shirt – the little-known Ukraine President Zelensky, whose zealous resistance has gained him world-wide admiration. In this David vs Goliath war, no one expected this former small screen star to have an invading tsar Put In his place.
Another serious contender for the coveted cover is comrade Xi Jinping, who has pinged the post of president for life on the promise of taming tiny Taiwan and making the China No.1 power. Beijing’s big boss believes that bullying the little island with daily military jet flights, could make Taipei tremble and topple over. With all eyes on how a minnow Ukraine is making mincemeat of mighty Moscow, he may be brooding over a military option in case he gets a bloody nose like his Kremlin comrade. So I put him on next year’s reserve list if his threat to invade becomes real.
Not to be left behind by these non-English-speaking contenders, England has staked its claim with a few of its own for (Not The) Person of the Year, 2022 such as Liz Truss. Prime minister for seven weeks, hers was the shortest term in the entire history of democratic governance, compared with its first PM Sir Robert Walpole’s 21 years from 1721.
Perhaps Person of the Year should be Rishi Sunak, the first prime minister of colour, a la Barack Obama in the US, after 56 of his Anglo-Saxon predecessors in the past 300 years. It seemed somewhat ironic that King Charles, constitutionally a figurehead, swore in a colonial boy as the real ruler of Britain, whereas hundreds of Indian maharajas lined up in obeisance before his great grandfather George V at the Delhi Durbar in 1911. History had turned a full circle!
With both Charles and Rishi ‘Liz replacements’ in their own way, who can forget at this time of year, the more illustrious Liz? The gracious lady who adorned the British throne for 70 years became the longest serving monarch, surpassing her great great grandmother Queen Victoria. Besides swearing in 15 prime ministers during her long reign, Queen Elizabeth led a scandal-free life even as some close relatives tarnished the family name. Now standing first in line to trash the House of Windsor, is her pet grandson Harry and his American wife Meghan with their book Spare and a Netflix documentary I cannot remember the name of. I doubt both will spare anyone in the royal household.
Since all the good folks above may get Time’s front page honour, I have the difficult task of picking one from the other lot for the back cover – so I leave the choice of (Not The) Person of the Year 2022 to you.