New Delhi, Dec. 31 -- From Hong Kong to Venezuela and Lebanon, angry protesters took to the streets this year, defying tear gas shells and police batons, rallying for a range of issues, and demanding, on many occasions, an overhaul of existing political systems.

For many governments, from France to Bolivia, it was a year fraught with agitations. In many instances, the turmoil worsened already perilous economic situations. Lebanon's economic woes, for instance, have only been exacerbated by its political unrest. Halfway across the world, seven months of protests in Hong Kong have pushed the relatively affluent region to the brink of a recession.

The dots connecting these protests have been a feeling of disaffection for reasons that vary fr...