The remonetisation in the fag end of the year has snatched the limelight of the year, but 2016 witnessed many other defining moments. Organiser presents an overview of this happening year
Deepa Karmakar taking her breath-taking Produnova vault and smiling charmingly with raised hands; rustic Sakshi Malik grabbing her chance in Olympics with both hands and raising Indian flag, PV Sindhu crouching hungrily but calmly on the courts, handing over racquet to her competitor gracefully.
Images of thousands of citizens standing peacefully in queues at bank doors and ATMs in the hope of a better less corrupt tomorrow, putting their faith in a person who they believe, is one of them. One recalls, mesmerised, millions of people taking holy dip in Haridwar Kumbh – a religious confluence of unity in diversity, a celebration that carries behind it, memories of thousands of years of the cultural nationhood of Bharat that is India. Graceful montage of lakhs of people across the globe celebrating International Yoga Day that reminding us that Yoga is a gift from India to humanity and its home is India.
With it come some disturbing images of disruption of Durga Puja in Bengal, Muslims running amock in Malda under terrified eyes police of the state; leftist groups shouting ‘Bharat tere tukde honge, inshah Allah, Bharat ki barbadi tak jang rahegi jang rahegi’. One cannot but remember sadly, scores of coffins of brave soldiers of India who died so we could sleep in peace even as present government let the world know that its patience has run out, and undertook surgical strikes both on western and eastern fronts.
Two major sets of images dominated world stage – images of ships overflowing with Syrian refugees, brutalisation of Syrian Muslims and Kurds by IS and rising anti-Muslim sentiments on roads of Europe, thousands of homes reduced to rubble thousands of citizens of Syria, Balochistan and Afghanistan. Even if we avoided videos on the internet, we cannot forget sadistic killings on camera, of Yezidis, Christians, non-Sunnis and Kurds and kidnapping and killing of school girls in Nigeria.
On the other side of this world of brutality, we recall Cameron carrying his bags to his car after losing Brexit referendum, people looting food shops in Argentina and Trump-Clinton face off. One remembers lingering images of nature showing its might globally, reminding the world of dangers of playing with it indiscriminately.
|Ashwin No 1
India’s top off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin won the Garfield Sobers Trophy after being named ICC Cricketer of the Year 2016 on, December 22. The World No 1 bowler is also the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year.
Ashwin took 48 wickets in 8 Tests this year at an average of 15.39 and also contributed with the bat by scoring 336 runs, (Average: 42) during the voting period from September 14, 2015 to September 20, 2016. Virat Kohli was the last Indian to win the honour, getting the gong in 2012. Ashwin was also adjudged the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year, which has made him only the second India player after Dravid (2004) to bag the two coveted prizes in the same year.
Defying all odds and showing killer instincts, PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar became the unlikely heroines and saved the country's pride. PV Sindhu won silver medal in Badminton while Sakshi Malik managed to win abronze in Wrestling.
Chak De India
India’s junior hockey team scripted history after beating Belgium in the final of the men's Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow on December 18. After that India have become the first nation to win the hockey junior World Cup at home and also ended 15-year-old World Cup drought
Kohli, the new leader
By winning five consecutive Test series and showing an extraordinary combination of aggression& calmness, Kohli is proving that he is the new leader of Indian cricket team.
Looking behind the Images
Demonetisation has redefined Indian politics and economy for ever. Any major action will now be measured with reference to this massive daring act of Modi government. This action has divided entire populace into pro and anti-demonetisation camps, even within his support base and opposition. The vocal minority backed by most of the status-quoist media has spelled Doom, with a capital D, for India though people at large have seen it as a doom for corruption and terror money. It is estimated that this action will keep the economy down for one to two-quarters. Most of the national and international fiscal experts feel that India will take a new growth path with much transparent economy and less corruption there on. Even if it falters at a few steps it is clear that this move has shaken the ruling classes and their cohorts to the core.
Technology: From Import to Export
Shunning decades long dependence on big world powers for key technological support, India, for the first time, emerged as exporter of key technology in the year 2016. The Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) on June 22 launched 20 satellites into the orbit in one go. Out of these 20 satellites, 13 were from companies and organisations belonging to the USA, while one was from India and other 6 were from Indonesia, Canada, and Germany. It not only made us better our previous best of launching 10 satellites in one go but also close our gap with Russia’s 33 satellite (2014) and NASA’s 29 satellite (2013) launches in one go.
Every citizen now believes that it will no more be business as usual in India. Demonetisation has upset the seven-decade old nexus between rich, politicians and power brokers. ‘What-next?’ is gnawing their innards. The not so well off citizens are suffering in the firm belief that the Prime Minister will not let them down and bring offenders to book. Whether upcoming budget will firm up people’s trust or not is anybody’s guess.
The JNU Incident
Uri Terrorist Attack
Emerging Indian Authors
In a referendum held on June 23, 2016, 52% of UK voters casted their votes in favour of leaving the European Union. Followed by Brexit, Theresa May took over as new Prime Minister after David Camerson resigned.
Russia's New Role in Syria
South China Sea Verdict
Social Media Rule the Roost
Assertion of Cultural Unity
Kumbh Mela is the flag bearer of the cultural unity of India, it symbolises the eternal India that is dynamic, yet rooted in its history, a rare living and thriving civilisation in living memory of humankind. The pseudo-secular, irreligious socio-political discourse that dominated the narrative of India vis-à-vis this true identity of Bharat that believes in Dharma, Sarva panth samabhav and plural society and showed the world the way has lost this battle for the soul of India.
There are many such events that have strengthened this feeling. It is a narrative that has been accepted by the majority of Indians but for so called secular lobby that has lived on borrowed ideas from West. Shri Pavan Verma has eloquently admitted to this flaw in so-called liberal thought process in his Op-Ed in TOI recently. This decisive change in narrative is the reason for growing cacophony of intolerance of so-called liberal groups.
The desperation of Left-Secular lobby brimmed over and they bared their naked desire to see India fragment, a fond dream of Marxists-Leninists since Independence. Bharat tere tukde honge and barbadi tak jang rahegi symbolises this frustration at their failure to define India as a multi-national entity born on August 15, 1947 with no defining soul. This debate has become so fractious that the undercurrents in media and entertainment industry have burst forth into open war between top journalists and top members of the film fraternity. For the first time, the nationalist voices have dared to speak up. This is the new India that secular lobby tried to suppress in previous seven decades.
Nationalist Sentiments across Northeastern Bharat
Encouraging news in this quest for unity of minds and hearts came from political developments in North East, a most neglected part of India that received hardly any attention in the political ecosystem because of ‘tyranny of distance’ as a senior journalist so eloquently confessed. Starting from much better railway connectivity to political parties aligning themselves with a party labelled as Hindu nationalist party shows that this neglected region of India is eager to join the mainstream in full force believing that rest of India truly cares for it. Modi has been successful in setting of a grand narrative of India as a nation that is ready to taking its place the high table in comity of nations.
A Few Worrying Trends
No doubt, there have been attacks on Hindu traditions from different sides. Apart from Bengal government going overboard to gain the support of Bangladeshi infiltrators and Islamists, there were more disturbing trends. Concerted attacks on Hindu religious practices are still on from Left, West looking feminists, media as well as judiciary in the name of outdated traditions and gender equality without understanding the ancient traditions and philosophy behind these traditions. Whether it is Jallikattu or right to pray at holy places like Sabarimala; the spirit of celebration, spirituality and valour are sought to be killed in the name of modernity. I am sure our ancient society will overcome this too.
Marxist attacks Kerala on people who don’t think like them or bow to them have touched plumbed the depths with the new Marxist government. Killing and maiming of RSS volunteers, violence against Muslims and their own rebels shows the worst form of fascism. Their failures in their lands of inspiration should tell them that they are bound to fail.
The most worrying trend is judiciary’s high-handed attempts at governing rather than dispensing justice.
Lack of decisive governance has allowed space to judiciary to enter the arena of the executive. Urge to dictate terms in smallest aspects of governance like banning vehicles without proper data to stopping a unanimously passed law of NJAC in parliament does not auger well for democratic system where responsibilities between judiciary and executive have been marked well. This gridlock may hurt the nation more than what we can imagine at present.
India’s moves away from Cricket, looks ahead
On the brighter note, we witnessed the rise of woman power in sports signified in the verbal montage above. People from remotest parts of India – villages and small towns – have been choosing individual sports that are much difficult to gain entry in the highly competitive global arena. One cannot forget Vijender becoming a successful Pro in a tough field of boxing. Overall change in perspective of youth moving away from Cricket to Kabaddi, Football, Gymnastics and so on is a highly encouraging sign. With corporates contributing to the sports, we have a bright future. Yes, Virat Kohli symbolises the new young India – aggressive and ambitious. At the same time to paraphrase Abhinav Bindra, Cricket may be the nation’s religion so far but India is becoming secular in sports now.
World moving away from Liberal Romanticism
At global level, one cannot overlook the extreme brutality of Islamist terror. It has been in the news so long that we have become numb. To my mind the utter destruction millions of common citizens’ lives in West Asia in the name of religion, killing of Kurds; kidnapping and exploitation of girls in Nigeria represents the worst phase of humanity in recent times.
The Syrian refugee crises shook up European Union nations. Their socio-cultural fabric has been torn asunder by stress of millions of Muslim refugees who ironically didn’t get any succour from Muslim countries around them. It is tragic that this humanitarian sympathy is gradually giving way to hate for Islam, because the Muslim leaders – both religious and social refuse to frankly disown archaic outdated Islamic practices being encouraged by Salafists.
People cannot stomach empty denials. Because of this, a feeling has slowly crystallised in all societies that there is something seriously wrong in Islam. Though there are signs of Muslims making efforts to reform Islam from within, the voices are still too few and feeble yet. Fear of retribution keeps silent Muslims tied to orthodoxy.
Brexit is not a rejection of dilution of borders within Europe, it is the result of immigrants overpowering local culture and enfeebling their economy. This is the reason other nations in Europe are showing signs of moving away from the idealistic European Union. While this has disappointed many a liberal, to my mind the best of parliamentary democracy was presented by David Cameron who bowed to people’s verdict gracefully.
Lasting thought at the end of the year is the end of romance with left liberal policies. The trend of moving away from elitist left-liberal discourse globally is seen clearly. Whether it is the victory of Trump (partly due to immigrant fear and partly due to fatigue with Democratic economic policies), the dominance of Shinzo Abe in an unstable politics of Japan, or food riots in Argentina or disturbances in Brazil; they all show the limitations of populist politics. They show that people have no patience now for noble, idealistic pronouncements of the politicians at their cost. People want to take back control and enjoy policies that give them security, and let them enjoy their cultural and social life.
Beginning of Tortuous Warm War
Open show of muscle by China through its South China Sea aggression and Putin’s stance in international affairs signal return of not Cold War but a Warm War that may boil over very easily as it has a short fuse. While the West Asia was supposed to be the epicentre of supposed World War III, it is possible that China may pull the plug elsewhere; or force its way as number one Military power by default if US and allies blink first.
The images of natural destruction globally at regular intervals force us to think and change our lifestyles to sustainable consumption rather than consumerism. We need to take the path shown by Hindu sages told eons back. May we learn before it is too late.
(The writer is a Mumbai based
senior columnist )