Bishop Desmond Tutu, Bishop of Johannesburg and Former Secretary of the General South African Council of Churches (S.A.C.C.) was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his work against apartheid in South Africa.
The long and bitter dispute known as the Miners' Strike began in March 1984.
Once again, a Conservative government believed this was a direct challenge to the rule of government rather than an industrial dispute. It was generally depicted as a confrontation between the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher and the President of the NUM (National Union of Mineworkers), Arthur Scargill.
What followed have been described as some of the most violent confrontations between trade unionists and police ever seen in England.
During the following twelve months, the miners drifted back to work. The strike eventually collapsed with no negotiated settlement although few people will ever forget the television images of the beaten but still proud miners, union flags flying, marching back to their pits behind their colliery bands.
From that point, Thatcher had enhanced her image as the Iron Lady and Scargill was discredited enough never again to have any real industrial clout. In 1984 at the start of the strike there were 156 operational pits but by 1992 there were just 20 remaining.
During the morning of 17 April 1984, WPC Yvonne Fletcher was gunned down in St James's Square, London.
The young policewoman was there policing an anti-Gadafii demonstration when she was shot by a gunman firing from an upstairs window of the Libyan Embassy. In 1999 Libya finally took general responsibility for the shooting and paid the family compensation.
On June 4 1984, the Indian army stormed the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, in an effort to crush a two-year-old terrorist campaign by Sikh separatists. Three hundred died and hundreds were wounded in the daylong gun battle. The Sikh separatists had been using the temple as a refuge and a fortress. The Sikhs fundamentalist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was killed. The government of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used force in its effort to keep the Indian federation together, but the action sparked a violent backlash by militant Sikhs (see below).
On 20 June 1984, in the biggest exam shake-up for over 10 years, the Education Secretary, Sir Keith Joseph, announced that O Level and CSE exams were to be abolished and replaced with GCSE's.
On 19 July 1984 an earthquake took place at Lleyn in North Wales. It had a magnitude of 5.4 ML, which made it the largest onshore earthquake in the UK during the 20th century. It was felt over an area of around 240,000 square kilometres. The earthquake occurred in the lower crust at a depth of approximately 22 km and was followed by many aftershocks. Damage consisted of widespread cracks in plaster and falls of some chimneys and weak plaster and occurred as far away as Liverpool.
On 16 September 1984, the Princess of Wales gave birth to her second son, Prince Henry. Nowadays he is much better known as 'Harry'.
On October 12 1984, the IRA detonated a bomb at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where many British Conservatives were staying during their party conference at the Brighton Centre, next door. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher narrowly escaped injury, though members of her government were injured and five people were killed.
In 1986 Patrick Magee was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders. He was released in 1999 as part of the Good Friday Agreement.
On October 31 1984, after she had moved vigorously to suppress Sikh insurgents, Sikh members of her personal security guard shot dead Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India. Mrs Gandhi, had been the dominant figure in Indian politics for over two decades. Resolutely pursuing her goal of a united India, Ghandi had ordered the attack on the Sikh's Golden Temple in Punjab (see above), a centre for Sikh separatist activities. Her assassination was Sikh retaliation for that attack.
During the 1980's, the U.S. supported "Contras" were conducting a guerrilla war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. The U.S. Congress cut off official aid to the Contras, after which illegal guns sales to Iran were covertly used to fund the guerrillas. In 1984 the United States illegally mined Nicaragua's principal export harbours and, under intense pressure during that year, the Sandinista regime held elections in November 1984, in which the junta leader, Daniel Ortega Saavedra, was chosen as president. The Sandinista government was popular especially with the peasants and the urban poor. Although it received substantial Soviet aid, it was increasingly unable to maintain the economy, and it curtailed civil liberties to silence dissent.
In November 1984 Ronald Reagan and George Bush (senior) were re-elected in the United States by a landslide, carrying all but one of the 50 states.
President Reagan faced no opposition to his renomination as the Republican nomination for President.
For the Democrats, Senator Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter's Vice President, was the front-runner throughout the election campaign.
His most serious opposition was Senator Gary Hart of Colorado, who ran on a theme of new ideas. Other opponents included Senator Henry Jackson of Washington, and Reverend Jesse Jackson, the first serious Black candidate for President. Mondale was nominated on the first ballot at the Democratic convention in San Francisco. He selected Geraldine Ferraro to be his running mate. Ferraro became the first women ever to be nominated by a major political party in the USA.
The election campaign revolved mostly around the issues of deficit and tariff barriers. The traditional roles of the Democratic and Republican parties were reversed, with the Democrats attacking the Republicans for budget deficits, and the Democrats also calling for more tariff protection. Reagan's popularity, management of the media, and effective advertising was too much for Mondale to overtake. "The Great Communicator" had masterfully shaped an image that was powerful in the television age. Reagan won the election with an 18-point margin.
What still remains the worlds's worst industrial accident started when a toxic gas cloud containing 40 tonnes of highly poisonous methyl isocyanate escaped from a pesticides factory in the central Indian city of Bhopal during the early hours of 3rd December 1984. According to official figures, the cloud drifted across the city killing nearly 3,000 people immediately. Many thousands of survivors were left with permanent disabilities including respiratory and other illnesses. In 1989, the American owned company Union Carbide India Ltd. was ordered to pay $470 million to the people of India as full settlement of all compensation claims. It is estimated that nearly 15,000 people have died as a direct result of the accident and perhaps as many as 50,0000 local people still live with its aftermath.
On December 19 1984 in the Great Hall of the People, Peking, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher signed the joint Sino-British Declaration with her Chinese counterpart, Zhao Ziyang, that sealed the future of Hong Kong. On July 1, 1997, when Britain's 155 year lease over the colony expired, it reverted to Chinese rule. Hong Kong is now a "Special Administrative Region" with "a high degree of autonomy except in foreign and defence affairs" and with a capitalist system guaranteed until at least 2047.
Foreign aid and contributions poured into Ethiopia after pictures of famine victims were shown on television. A benefit record, Do They Know It's Christmas, by the all-star group Band-Aid, organised by the Irish pop-star Bob Geldorf, was released to raise money for famine relief.
On 29 December 1984 former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's son, Rajiv Ghandi, succeeded his mother as Prime Minister of India after his Congress Party had won a remarkable landslide victory. Despite his massive majority, 401 out of 508 seats, Rajiv Ghandi was Prime Minister for just one term and lost the 1989 election. Later, tragedy was to strike the Gandhi family again and he was killed in a bombing at a Party election rally in Madras on May 21, 1991. Four members of the Tamil Tigers, a guerrilla group fighting for a separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka were convicted of his murder.