Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

2021: The year gone by—key moments beyond Covid-19

While Covid-19 hogged the headlines yet again, we look at some landmark events that shaped the globe

Published: Dec 29, 2021 02:04:29 PM IST
Updated: Dec 29, 2021 06:20:33 PM IST

2021: The year gone by—key moments beyond Covid-19
A round-up of what happened in 2021


  •  In South Korea, more people died than were born. Bad news for a country that already has the world’s lowest birth rate among over 180 member countries of the World Bank.

  •  Share trading app Robinhood suspended the trading of Gamestop, a firm that sells gaming consoles, due to a huge surge in its share price. The stock was previously short listed by Wall Street.


  •  The military in Myanmar took charge again and declared a year-long state of emergency. Citizens protested over the coup, the largest since the Saffron Revolution in 2007 when monks challenged their regime.

  •  Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala became the first woman, and the first African, to be chosen as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization. She said her priority would be to work with members to address the economic and health consequences as a result of the pandemic.


  •  Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet in 2006, “just setting up my twttr”, was sold as an NFT for the equivalent of $2.9 million to a Malaysia-based businessman, Sina Estavi. Estavi said it was like buying a Mona Lisa painting.

  •  At the 63rd Grammy Awards, Beyoncé broke the record for most Grammys won by a singer (28). Taylor Swift also became the first female artiste to win album of the year thrice. Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder are the only other artistes to win this category three times.

2021: The year gone by—key moments beyond Covid-19Beyoncé accepts the Best R&B Performance award for 'Black Parade' onstage during the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Los Angeles Convention Center on March 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. 
Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


  •  Coinbase became the first major cryptocurrency company to enter the US stock exchange.

  •  The Duke of Edinburgh, Philip Mountbatten, died at the age of 99.


  •  The United States formally began withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan to mark the final phase of the end to its longest war. Additionally, NATO also started withdrawing their troops.

  •  At least 163 Palestinians and six Israeli officers were injured after clashes at Al-Aqsa mosque, worsening the Israel-Palestine conflict. Israel repeatedly conducted airstrikes killing more than 250 Palestinians in the span of 11 days. On May 22, the ceasefire was officially put into effect and aid reached Gaza.

2021: The year gone by—key moments beyond Covid-19In this handout provided by U.S. Central Command Public Affairs, U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load passengers aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) on August 24, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. The United States and allies urged Afghans to leave Kabul airport, citing the threat of terrorist attacks, as Western troops race to evacuate as many people as possible by August 31.
Image: Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen/U.S. Air Forces Europe-Africa via Getty Images


  •  The $5.6 billion electric railway line went into service, connecting the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to the city of Nyingchi. The 250-mile line snakes through 47 tunnels and 121 bridges. The train is equipped with an automated system that maintains oxygen levels inside its cars.

  •  On June 26, the UN released a report stating that at least 230,000 people have been displaced since the violence in Myanmar began, thousands fled to neighbouring countries to avoid violence.


  •  The 2020 summer Olympics, postponed by a year, were held in Tokyo. Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics. Weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu won a silver. India also won medals in boxing, badminton, wrestling and men's hockey, while the women’s hockey team reached the semi-finals for the first time.

  •  Richard Branson won the billionaire space race, rocketing into the July sky aboard the supersonic SpaceShipTwo, a winged spacecraft developed by Virgin Galactic. Jeff Bezos joined the billionaire space club in his own rocket, New Shepard.

  •  Light may not be able to escape a black hole, but for the first time, astronomers observed light bending behind one—800 million light years away from Earth. This finding, detailed in the journal Nature, once again confirmed Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.

2021: The year gone by—key moments beyond Covid-19Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Shooting - R2 - Women's 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 - Medal Ceremony - Asaka Shooting Range, Tokyo, Japan - August 30, 2021. Gold Medallist Avani Lekhara of India celebrates on the podium
Image: REUTERS/Issei Kato 


  •  The 2020 Summer Paralympics were hosted by Tokyo. India won an all-time high of 19 medals which included five gold, eight silver, and six bronze medals.

  •  Taliban forces took control of Afghanistan's capital Kabul during a military offensive against the Afghan government that had begun in May 2021. The capture took place hours after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.


  •  El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, allowing citizens to buy products, services, pay taxes and home loans via cryptocurrency. The government is rolling out a network of 200 bitcoin ATMs and building kiosks to introduce consumers to bitcoin at plazas around the country.

  •  In the 2021 US Open, Emma Raducanu of Great Britain defeated Leylah Fernandez of Canada in the final of the women's singles to become the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title. In the men’s singles tournament, Russian Daniil Medvedev defeats Novak Djokovic of Serbia to win his first Grand Slam.

2021: The year gone by—key moments beyond Covid-19People pull out Shell Ye Win, 24, who was shot during the security force crack down on anti-coup protesters in Mandalay, Myanmar March 14, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo


  •  Journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to safeguard the freedom of expression”.

  •  The World Health Organization recommended the widespread rollout of the first malaria vaccine, after a successful pilot programme in three African countries. Experts hope this vaccine could save tens of thousands of children each year across Africa.

  •  The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as COP26, took place at the SEC Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 13.


  •  Jack Dorsey resigns as the CEO of Twitter and is succeeded by Chief Technology Officer Parag Agarwal.

2021: The year gone by—key moments beyond Covid-19Rakesh Tikait, a leader of Bharatiya Kisan Union, one of the largest farmers' unions, along with farmers vacate a protest site, after the government agreed to their demands, including assurance to consider guaranteed prices for all produce, at Ghazipur site near Delhi- Uttar Pradesh border, India, December 15, 2021.
Image: REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis


  •  After almost a year of agitation and major protests over the farm laws that were passed in the Parliament in September 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Centre will repeal the three controversial laws. President Ram Nath Kovind signed off on the Farm Laws Repeal Bill on December 1.

  •  India's Harnaaz Sandhu brought home the Miss Universe crown after 21 years. Before Sandhu, only two other Indians have won the title—Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000.

  •  Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to clinch his first Formula One world title on last lap in Abu Dhabi.

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