MURALI N. KRISHNASWAMY

The inauguration of Barack Obama as the President of the U.S. in the beginning of the year brought hope. But the global economic crisis and climate disasters took centre stage. Here's a brief round-up of the year that was…

A good year for cricket with some brilliant action! India was declared the world's No. 1 cricket team. And the icing on the cake was the recognition for Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar as he crossed 30,000 runs in international cricket.

Read about the year that was — the good and the not so good, as we bid goodbye to 2009.

Once again, it's that time of the year to look back … 2009, and the tenth and last of the 2000s decade has been a strong mix of the good and the bad.

There was much anticipation and hope with the inauguration of Barack H. Obama as the 44th, and the first African American, President of the United States. It was a much-watched event across the globe. He soon signed an order to close, within a year, the Guantánamo Bay “terrorist” detention camp in Cuba. Later on, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The global economic crisis was one of the more serious events to grip the world and world leaders met in London to discuss strategies to face the crisis.

The UNESCO launched the World Digital Library in April. “Slumdog Millionaire” had a golden run at the Oscars.

The World Health Organisation spotlighted the spread of influenza from Mexico and the U.S. to the rest of the world. Soon, the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza strain, or “swine flu”, was declared a global pandemic.

Anniversaries and awards

India lost its President R. Venkataraman and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy. Others who left us include photographer T.S. Satyan, poet Dilip Chitre, Swedish boxer Ingemar Johansson, actor James Whitmore, U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara, newscaster Walter Cronkite, Philippines President Corazon Aquino, politician Ted Kennedy and American actor Patrick Swayze.

It was also a time for a string of anniversaries. Doordarshan turned 50, it was the 25th year after the Bhopal gas tragedy, the 120th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, the 25th death anniversary of Indira Gandhi and the 125th anniversary of the Congress Party. Lata Mangeshkar and Dilip Kumar touched the 80-mark. India's sole aircraft carrier INS Viraat (formerly HMS Hermes) turned 50. The American television series “Sesame Street” also hit its 40th anniversary, and the lovable Asterix completed 50. To celebrate Children's Day, India's Debesh Banerjee had his “My India –Full of Life” chosen out of 4,000 entries as the Google Doodle on the Google India homepage. And it was a Darwin Double — the 200th birth anniversary of British naturalist Charles Darwin, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book, On the Origin of Species.

Microsoft launched its much anticipated Windows 7.

… The annual announcement from Sweden saw India's Venkatraman Ramakrishnan share the Chemistry Nobel with Ada Yonath and Thomas A. Steitz. And President Pratibha Patil became the first woman President to fly in a (Sukhoi) fighter jet.

In the sporting arena, perhaps the limelight was on just three individuals. India became the world's No.1 Test cricket team while its Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was feted for crossing 30,000 runs in international cricket. Usain “Lightning” Bolt, set the tracks on fire and became the first man to hold the 100 and 200 m world and Olympic titles at the same time, with new world records. And Roger Federer won 15 Grand Slam singles titles …

… What will 2010 hold for us? The United Nations says it's the International Year of Biodiversity. What better way to herald it with the promise of reintroducing the cheetah in India in the near future, and the discovery of new frog species in the Western Ghats this year!

Goodbye Michael

The world of entertainment plunged into sorrow with the passing of the King of Pop and American entertainer Michael Jackson.

Watch the sky

Officially, 2009 was declared as the International Year of Natural Fibres.

It was also the International Year of Astronomy, and it's fitting that quite a few events happened then. In March, NASA launched its Kepler Mission, which will search for extrasolar planets in the Milky Way galaxy and then again its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter/LCROSS probes to the Moon.

The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century, lasting up to six minutes and 38.8 seconds, occurred in July over parts of Asia and the Pacific Ocean and is said to be the most widely observed total eclipse in human history.

European scientists, in October, discovered 32 exoplanets. Another big announcement was the discovery of “significant” evidence of water on the Moon. NASA has also launched its WISE mission — to survey the sky and catalogue millions of astronomical objects.

Changing climes

World leaders once again went into a huddle to discuss issues during the United Nations Climate Change 2009 Conference at Copenhagen, Denmark. And to highlight the dangers certain countries in particular face because of global warming, the Maldives cabinet, led by its scuba-diving President, had an underwater meet, while the Nepalese cabinet met at a base camp of Everest. Talking about the weather, South India in particular was battered by a strong monsoon. The floods in Andhra Pradesh saw an unprecedented discharge of water in the Krishna, even surpassing its record a century ago. The Krishna created a record in October 2009 when 11.03 lakh cusec of floodwater reached the Prakasam barrage, making it the heaviest flood in more than 106 years. Officials at the Nagarjunasagar Project say that previously, on October 7, 1903, the maximum observed flood was 10.61 lakh cusec, at Vijayawada. Ketti, in the Nilgiris, was battered with 82 cm of rain in 24 hours.