Return of cheetahs, Morocco and more: The stories that made us smile in 2022

India marked its 75th year of Independence from British rule with large-scale festivities at New Delhi’s Red Fort. Prime Minister Narendra Modi set a target of ‘panch pran’ (five resolutions) to make India a developed nation in the next 25 years. He also announced initiatives like the National Master Plan of Prime Minister ‘Gati Shakti’, Sainik Schools for girls, and National Hydrogen Mission.

The day 25 July was a red-letter day for India as Droupadi Murmu became the country’s first president from the tribal community. Murmu, who belongs to the Santhal tribe, was the first girl in Odisha’s Uparbeda village in the Mayurbhanj district to attend college.

India became home to the world’s fastest cat in September, decades after the species was declared extinct in 1952. On 17 September, PM Modi released eight Namibian cheetahs – five females and three males – brought to India under ‘Project Cheetah’ in quarantine enclosures at Kuno-Palpur National Park (KPNP) in Madhya Pradesh.

India assumed the G20 presidency from Indonesia on 1 December. The country which will hold the presidency of the influential bloc until 30 November 2023, has adopted the theme of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth. One Family. One Future”. The country has planned 200 events in over 50 cities across the country with the G20 summit in New Delhi in September next year.

US-based scientists reached a major milestone that could set the scene for abundant clean energy in the future. Researchers at the US National Ignition Facility in California announced more energy was produced from a fusion experiment than was put in. NIF said that it successfully used a 192-beam laser to convert a small amount of hydrogen into enough energy to power about 15-20 kettles, BBC reported.

India finished fourth in the Commonwealth Games which concluded in August in England. We ended up with 61 medals and recorded an unprecedented success in track and field events, securing eight medals, the highest for the country in a CWG edition overseas. The most cherished win is that of the Indian women’s lawn bowls team, who clinched a historic gold medal.

The world rejoiced as the European Space Agency announced the first ever “parastronaut” in November. Former British Paralympic sprinter John McFall was selected for the Parastronaut Feasibility project. The 22-nation agency described it as a “serious, dedicated and honest attempt to clear the path to space for a professional astronaut with a physical disability”.

Spain’s lower house of Parliament on 22 December passed a transgender rights bill that will allow anyone aged 16 or above to change their gender without medical supervision. Until now, transgender people in Spain needed a diagnosis of gender dysphoria – the psychological condition experienced when the sex assigned at birth does not match one’s gender identity – and proof of hormonal treatment for two years.

After years of negotiations, nations across the world agreed to protect a third of the planet by 2030. At the COP15 United Nations biodiversity summit in Montreal, Canada, a landmark deal to safeguard biodiversity was signed. The focus will also be on protecting key ecosystems like rainforests, wetlands and the rights of indigenous peoples.

In the recently concluded FIFA World Cup, while the world hailed Argentina and Lionel Messi, the one team which won many hearts was Morocco. It beat footballing giants like Spain and Portugal and went on to become the first African and Arab team to reach the World Cup semi-finals. Although it lost to France, Moroccans had every reason to be proud.