Farewell 2018: That Was The Year That Was
As we bid farewell to 2018, IBNS correspondent Supriyo Hazra looks back on the headlines this year.
Hasina returns to power
The Awami League-led alliance of Sheikh Hasina is forming the government in Bangladesh for the third consecutive time as the Iron Lady received an overwhelmining mandate in an election marked by sporadic violence that claimed 17 lives. This will also be the fourth term for Hasina's party. AL led alliance won 288 of the 300 seats in the Bangladesh Parliament leaving the opposition BNP of jailed former prime minister Khaleda Zia with only 7 while Others bagged 3 seats.
2017 might have ended on a bitter note with US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong UN continuously attacking each other verbally but the middle of 2018 witnessed a picture of hope when the two finally met in Singapore. June 12 became significant date as Trump became the first sitting US president to meet with a North Korea leader. Trump had appreciated the outcome of the summit as he considered it as his administration’s successful quest to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. However, several news reports emerged in November this year that North Korea had hidden more than a dozen missile bases despite pledges to curb its nuclear activity.
US Troops Withdrawal Plan
Donald Trump himself took some crucial steps which hit his own government hard. The US government is planning to reduce its troops posted in Afghanistan and Syria. The announcement was made recently. However, the move came with trouble. Amid differences with US President Donald Trump over plans to withdraw troops from Syria, US Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned this month. Trump also engaged himself in a business battle with China this year. The two countries were engaged in hitting each other with escalating tariffs in recent times over an attempt to make their domestically made goods more competitive, triggering a slow battle to gain financial battle in the coming years.
Imran Khan: Cricketing icon becomes Pakistan's Prime Minister
In 1992, Imran Khan had led Pakistan to win the World Cup for the first time in Australia, giving birth to a new leader whom the country trusted. Now, years after Khan left the cricketing field to step into the arena of politics, Khan finally sent the ball outside the park as he was elected as the new Prime Minister of the country. His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) registered a landslide victory in the general polls as Imran Khan started yet another new innings in his career that was once glorified around cricket. And as they say, patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet.
Gatwick Drone disturbance:
The month of December witnessed a bizarre incident in England when flight movements in the UK's Gatwick Airport were disrupted due to multiple drone sightings. The incidents triggered security concerns in the area. Two people arrested in conjunction with the widespread disruption of flights at Gatwick Airport through the illegal use of drones have been released without charge on Sunday. Meanwhile, UK Security Minister Ben Wallace has warned that terrorist group Al Qaeda might carry out terror attacks on passenger planes and airports in Europe. Al-Qaeda is resurgent and seeking to carry out new terrorist strikes on airliners and airports, the security minister Ben Wallace told The Sunday Times. The terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks in 2001 poses a growing threat that is keeping ministers “awake at night”, he told the newspaper. Wallace told the newspaper that intelligence reports had revealed that al-Qaeda was developing technology to bring down passenger jets.
Indonesia: Tsunami hits the island nation
Indonesia, considered as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, was left shocked as a tsunami triggered by volcanic eruption hit the Sunda Strait region on December 23 and left at least 281 people dead. The mishap left 1000 people injured. Apart from this tragedy, the country was hit by a series of earthquakes this year. The severest among them all measured 6.9 on the Richter Scale on August 5 and left at least 500 people killed.
Earthquake hammers Papua New Guinea:
A 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocked the country in the month of February and left 160 people dead. The incident left the nation completely shattered.
California Fire: Tragedy disrupts life in US
One of the deadliest fire incidents paralysed life in the California area of the USA and left at least 85 people killed. The number of missing people in the list even touched 296. After two weeks battle, firefighters brought the blaze, which broke out on Nov 8, under control.
Kerala: Flood ravages God's Own Country
Kerala, the serene tourist destination in southern India which attracts hundreds of tourists from all over the world, experienced the worst floods in recent times in August and leftover 400 people killed, Met Officials have mostly blamed unusual rainfall in the state behind the cause of the lethal flood.
Tripura: Fall of the Red Brigade
History was written in Tripura where the Left government was dethroned by Biplob Kumar Deb and the Bharatiya Janata Party, starting a new chapter for the saffron brigade in the north-east. In an unprecedented poll result, the BJP uprooted the Left from one of its last surviving bastion in the country if Kerala, where it is in power, is discounted with voter there changing governments every alternate term. The BJP has decimated the Manik Sarkar government by securing 41 in a 60-member Assembly.
The Left, which secured just 18 seats coming down from earlier 51, could barely counter the "Chalo Paltai (Lets make a change)" slogan raised by the saffron brigade ahead of the election. The Congress, which was earlier the prime opponent of the Left in Tripura, failed to even open its account in the midst of a bilateral contest between the Left and the Right wings.
Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy took oath as the new Chief Minister of Karnataka after the southern state witnessed a neck-and-neck battle between Congress, JD(S) and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Kumaraswamy's party stitched an alliance with the Congress to install the new state government with the support of 117 lawmakers and succeeded Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s BS Yeddyurappa, who had resigned after failing to get the majority of 111 seats. Yeddyurappa had controversially taken oath as the CM though his party was short of six seats to majority despite being the single largest political outfit in Karnataka. In a dramatic turnaround, Yeddyurappa, who had earlier exuded confidence in proving majority, resigned even before the floor test.
Chhattisgarh-Rajasthan- Madhya Pradesh: Congress returns with a bang
The Congress registered massive victories in the three states where the assembly polls were held at the fag end of the year to give more oxygen to the party and increase its chances of giving the Bharatiya Janata Party a tough battle in the Lok Sabha Polls next year. Rahul Gandhi and his comrades dethroned the BJP government in all the three states, giving some tough challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the final showdown next year.
TRS storm blows over Telangana:
In Telangana assembly, TRS and KCR dominated the scenario and returned to power with a huge margin, leaving the Congress far behind in the polls. The BJP once again failed to capture the state in the last leg of assembly polls held in the nation ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
INDIA AND PAKISTAN:
Newly elected Pakistan PM Imran Khan in Nov performed the groundbreaking of the corridor connecting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of his nation with Punjab even as Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh declined the invitation by Pakistan to attend the ground-breaking event for the Kartarpur corridor on the other side of the border. Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu from Punjab Congress along with Union Minister for Food Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister for Housing Hardeep S Puri represented India to the event. Neither did Sushma Swaraj go to the event. Kartarpur is a small town in district Narowal, 4 km from the Pakistan- India border, where the founder of the Sikh religion, Baba Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life. Subsequently, Gurdwara Darbar Sahab was built at the site on the Pakistan side and Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak in India, which are visited by thousands of Sikhs every year.
Sidhu had also visited the country during Imran Khan's oath-taking ceremony and had earned the wrath of his own Chief Minister for hugging Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa.
Return of Hamid Ansari:
Life of Hamid Ansari, the Indian national who visited Pakistan on way to Afghanistan in search of his lady love and was finally caught and imprisoned, was released in Dec by Pakistan and a happy reunion with family followed. His story is no less than any Bollywood movie script. After returning home in December, Hamid Ansari, who remained captive in Pakistan for six years, has said he blamed no one for what he underwent but himself. The Mumbai resident was lodged in the Peshawar Central Jail after being sentenced by the military court on Dec15, 2015. His three-year jail term ended on Dec 15, 2018 but he was not able to leave for India as his legal documents were not ready. Ansari had gone missing in 2012 from Kohat. A freelance Pakistani journalist who began investigating his disappearance from Kohat, Zeenat Shahzadi, had also gone missing soon after. Her kidnapping was considered by human rights activists as a case of “enforced disappearance”. It was only then in 2015 that Pakistan admitted to having Ansari in their custody. While he was accused of espionage his family, back in India, cried helplessly that their son had probably crossed over from Afghanistan to meet a woman he befriended online and then fell in love with.
Momo Challenge: A year of online fear
After Blue Whale, another online game returned to scare Indians across the nation this year. Several incidents of Momo Game related suicide invitations were reported by people, especially students, from several Indian states including West Bengal. Remembering the scary memories of Blue Whale Game, similar blackmailing based Momo Suicide Game has made its headway in several countries, including Argentina, Mexico, France, Germany and few states of the USA, and already claimed few lives.
At least 60 were killed when two trains ran over people who were standing on the railway track to watch the burning of Ravana effigy near Amritsar on Oct 19. Ravana effigies were burned across the country, including in Amritsar city, as a part of the Dusshera festival. The accident took place at Dhobi Ghat near Jaura Phatak. According to reports, a huge crowd gathered at the railway tracks to watch the burning of Ravana effigy which is a part of Dussehra celebrations. When the first train came, they could not hear the sound due to exploding crackers, as they were crushed under its wheels. A second train also ran them over.
CLEAN CHIT ON DEFENCE SCAM:
Giving a shot in the arm of the Narendra Modi government which is suddenly on the back foot after suffering electoral reverses in state polls, the Supreme Court on Dec 14 rejected all the pleas which sought a probe into the Rafale deal pertaining to the buying of 36 fighter jets by India from France. The top court said there is no need to doubt the process and interfere in the pricing of the deal which has been picked up by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as a political ammunition to attack Modi ahead of the 2019 general elections. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said: "Mere conjecturing is of no use." Despite an unfavourable order, Prashant Bhushan, one of the petitioners, said: "The judgement is totally wrong and against the country."
The French Revolution:
After 1998, France once again dominated and won the World Cup this year, hosted by Russia, by beating Croatia in the final of the showpiece event.
Messi-Ronaldo duopoly finishes:
For several years, the world of football was dominated by only two names- Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo. However, 2018 brought with itself a new person- Luka Modric- as he won both the FIFA Best and Ballon d'Or awards, giving the world of football its very own new poster boy.
Sunil Chhetri and his heart-touching message:
Away from World Cup and international football, Indian soccer star Sunil Chhetri won hearts when he urged millions of people in the country, through a video message, to watch football and support the national team. Chhetri also became the joint second highest international goalscorer among active players in the present world with Lionel Messi.
Virat Kohli: The King of Good Times
Apart from his on-field aggression, Indian skipper Virat remained the most dependable batsman in 2018 and continued to win matches for his team all the year round. Apart from scoring runs, Virat also added some more scores to the record books. This year, he became the fastest batsman to score 10000 ODI runs. He also became the fastest captain to reach 8000 international runs. Proving his consistency to fans, he also became the first captain to score 1000+ Test runs in three consecutive years. He is currently leading the Indian side in the ongoing Test series in Australia.
Rohit Sharma: The captain's choice
At a time when Virat Kohli was rested from playing in a crucial tournament like Asia Cup, Rohit Sharma proved himself equally capable of leading the national side when he marched ahead to win the tournament by beating Bangladesh in the final.
Mithali Raj: Trouble in the Women's team
No, it was not all golden when the issue of women's team is concerned. Despite a strong start to the tournament, Indian women's team suffered a massive defeat in the semi-finals of the World T20 in the West Indies. The defeat also opened a dark chapter in the history of Indian cricket. Raj was not played in the semi-finals. After the loss in the crucial match, Mithali Raj blamed the team management for benching her even as Committee of Administrators (CoA) member Diana Edulji defended the decision.
Sandpaper Controversy mars Australia Cricket's glory:
A ball tampering episode, featuring Australian former captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft left the world shocked and amazed. The episode began in South Africa where Australia was touring to play cricket series. During the Cape Town Test match, Steve, David and Cameron were shockingly found guilty of using a yellow abrasive tap to change the condition of the ball. The entire episode shook the foundation of Australia cricket. Amid criticisms, Steve and David were banned from playing international cricket for one year. Cameron Bancroft, who was caught red-handed, was suspended for nine months. Wicket-keeper Tim Paine took charge of the Australian Test side to replace Steve Smith in the Test match itself after the trio was found involved in the controversy.
Cricket: The Test world expands
The world Test cricket expanded with the addition of two new names- Ireland and Afghanistan. However, their inaugural Test matches were disappointing ventures. Ireland lost their first Test match to Pakistan at home, while Afghanistan received a jolt and were defeated by an innings and 262-run defeat in India.
CWG: Indian athletes shine
Indian athletes shined at the Commonwealth Games this year as they ended with the figure of 66 medals to finish third in the Gold Coast event.
Asian Games: Glory Continues
In the other major sporting event of the year, India ended with its best-ever haul with 69 medals.
PV Sindhu: Indian poster girl breaks the jinx
Creating history, PV Sindhu became the first Indian badminton player to win the season-ending BWF World Tour Finals tournament.
Saina Nehwal: Love Set Matchpoint
Saina Nehwal, one of the biggest badminton icons and Olympic medalist of the nation, finally tied the nuptial knot with shuttler Parupalli Kashyap. She joined the long list of Indian celebrities, which include names like Bollywood actors Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, who decided 2018 to be the perfect year to start a new chapter in their lives.
SHOWBIZ: A year of weddings
It is a rare event when you have seen superstar Aamir Khan apologizing to his fans for the debacle of his movie. Yes, this happened in 2018 when Aamir’s much-awaited Diwali release Thugs of Hindostan bombed at the Box Office and left millions of his fans disheartened. Aamir, who is known for making hit movies like Dhoom3, Dangal, PK, had to apologise for the movie’s poor show and hopefully we will not see another such disaster from his bag in future.
Leaving the stars behind, the actors of India's crossover medium budget movies shone. Ayushmann Khurana is one of them. He had a perfect 2018 with all his movies- Andhadhun and Badhaai Ho- rocked at the Box Office.
But this was the year of saying "Yes, I do" for the stars. Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh did so. The dimple-cheeked B-town queen, perhaps one of the most successful actors of this generation, tied the knot with another tinsel town heart-throb Ranveer Singh. In a wedding that could even give a tough challenge to the beautifully scripted marriages of Bollywood, Deepika and Ranveer skipped media attentions to land in Italy to be the perfect man and woman forever. ‘DeepVeer’ perhaps became the new word that emerged in the world of social media following the marriage. Images of the wedding went viral on the internet as the entire nation rejoiced and wished the couple a very best of luck for their new innings in life. On the working front as well, Deepika and Ranveer paired together for Padmaavat which released after much controversy.
Priyanka Chopra, India’s international star, had the most memorable 2018 as she tied the knots with US singer Nick Jonas in Jodhpur. Nick and Priyanka married just days after Ranveer and Deepika wedding, giving Indians a chance to celebrate two major Bollywood marriages back-to-back in one year. Priyanka appeared for one last time in the third season of her international TV series Quantico. She also worked in international movies like A Kid Like Jake and Isn't It Romantic?
#MeToo Tsunami: Shame hits Bollywood's fame
Following Hollywood, #MeToo movement had also created ripples in Bollywood this year. The campaign began with actress Tanushree Dutta's allegations of sexual misconduct against Horn Ok Pleassss co-star Nana Patekar. Following Tanushree's claim, several actresses belonging to different generations came out in public to share their experiences of sexual harassments and assaults. One of the allegations, which raised storm, was brought by writer-director-producer Vinta Nanda against onscreen 'Sanskari' actor Alok Nath. Nanda alleged that Nath had sexually violated her years ago.
AND THEY LEFT US TEARY-EYED:
Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a three-time prime minister of India, a Bharat Ratna and a stalwart of Indian politics who represented the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on August 16. He was 93.
M Karunanidhi: Former Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Chief and ex-Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi passed away in a Chennai hospital on August 7. He was 94. He was considered as one of the biggest political icons in south Indian politics.
Somnath Chatterjee: Former Lok Sabha Speaker and communist leader Somnath Chatterjee died on August 13 in Kolkata. Somnath Chatterjee was a 10-time Parliamentarian in his political career.
Sridevi: The Bollywood screen goddess, who ruled the hearts of her fans for decades, died in a Dubai hotel and quite mysteriously on Feb 24. When the news of her death broke, generations of Indians were too shocked to digest it. The heart stopped beating for the Julie girl a little too early. But then she would forever be the Hawa Hawai of the Indian film industry like none other. Sridevi, who died due to ‘accidental drowning’ in the bathroom, was just 54. Sridevi, who left a strong impression in the minds of Indian cinegoers with her films like Mr India, Sadma, Chandni, English Vinglish and Mom, had gone to Dubai to attend a wedding ceremony.
Mrinal Sen: Iconic filmmaker Mrinal Sen, who ushered in the new wave in Indian cinema along with other stalwarts of his time, died at his south Kolkata residence on Dec 30, bringing to an end an era that took the country's arthouse movies to the world's connoisseurs of films and the international festival circuit. The maker of films like Bhuvan Shome, Calcutta 71, Interview, Padatik, Khandhar and Akaler Sandhane was 95.