Seven events not to miss in 2013
If you found American presidential elections-confusing, you will find German elections, due in 2013, even more so.
1. Apple TV Launch
Steve Jobs had the genius to turn a product launch-even an upgrade-into an occasion that sent Apple fans into fits of ecstasy. If there's one product that they have been looking forward to more than any other, it's Apple TV. No one knows if or how it will be disruptive. But the launch is likely to happen in 2013. It will also be the first product in a new category since the death of Jobs.
2. Gene therapy commercial launch
Gene therapy, in which genes are transplanted into human cells to treat diseases, has seen its own hype cycle ever since it came into public consciousness in the 90s. There have been several experiments and clinical trials in the last two decades. The first commercial rollout will happen in 2013. A Dutch biotech company called uniQure will start selling Glybera, the first human gene therapy, in mid-2013. Glybera will treat lipoprotein lipase deficiency, which can cause severe pancreatitis.
3. Opening of the New World Trade Centre
The WTC will have 104 stories, will be the tallest building in the West, and the third tallest in the world. But few will be thinking about these numbers when it opens sometime towards the end of 2013. The dominant thought will be about the twin towers that fell on September 11, 2001.
4. Ahmadinejad's successor
Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad knew the art of infuriating others. In 2010, he suggested that the US could be behind 9/11; he refuses to recognise the legitimacy of Israel, and has called it a mere disturbance in the history of the Middle East; he has been a vocal supporter of the nuclear programme; and once proclaimed there were no gays in Iran. He has to step down as he has already served two terms. In June, we'll know if the next president will be as colourful.
5. German elections
If you found American presidential elections-with its primaries, caucuses, electoral colleges-confusing, you will find German federal elections, due in September/October 2013, even more so. Each voter has two votes, one for a member (winners elected thus fill half the seats in Bundestag) and another for a party (the winning parties fill the rest). But the way people split their votes can lead to more than 598 members in the parliament. Last elections, in which Angela Merkel retained power by forging a grand coalition, saw 620 members in the parliament. Right now, Merkel is on a strong wicket thanks to the way she handled the EU crisis. She is also a strong votary of the Kyoto Protocol.
6. Croatia joins the European Union
The European Union is still licking the wounds caused by the financial crisis. Critics have been questioning its relevance. Everyone's worried about its future. Amidst all this gloom, Croatia will join the EU in July 2013 to be its 28th member. Croatia is a small country with a population of 4.4 million. But given its recent history-the unrest and the war that followed its independence in 1991, the relative peace after that, and the promise of economic growth-its symbolic value is huge.
7. 150th Anniversary of the London Underground
Underground, or the Tube, has been more than a metro for London. It provided shelter during the London Blitz, it inspired art (the map itself is considered to be a thing of beauty), it's so infused with symbolism that it was targeted by terrorists (IRA several times, and in 2005 by homegrown Islamist terrorists), and it's so central to life in London that it was a key election plank for Ken Livingstone (the city's first mayor who held the office till 2008), much like Delhi Metro was for Sheila Dikshit. Watch out for the events planned to mark the first Tube journey back in 1863, including running of a series of restored steam trains from those days.