October 31, 2020 22:17 (IST)
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2019: Bidding Farewell To A Year Less Ordinary

2019: Bidding Farewell To A Year Less Ordinary

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 31 Dec 2019, 07:35 am

2019 will surely go down in Indian history as a landmark year. From the yearend protests over citizenship laws to abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir in August, the political turmoil in the country hogged the headlines soon after a landslide victory of the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha polls. IBNS correspondent Supriyo Hazra looks back  

India-Pakistan tie touches new low with Pulwama 
India and Pakistan, the two nuclear armed nations, almost reached the brink of war following the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama area on February 14 which led to the death of 40 Indian paramilitary force personnel. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group took responsibility for the attack.

 Blaming the neighbouring nation for the terror attack, India carried out airstrikes on terror camps in Pakistan.  The tension between the two nations heightened on Feb 26 when Indian fighter jets moved deep inside Pakistan and bombed JeM terror camps in Balakot.  It was for the first time since the 1971 war that the Indian jets entered inside Pakistan to drop bombs. Following this incident, an aerial combat between air forces of the two countries occurred on February 27 when Pakistan jets entered India. On its way to chase Pakistani jets, an Indian Air Force jet crashed in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The injured Indian pilot was captured by Pakistan. But things soon normalised after Pakistan decided to release the Indian pilot-Abhinandan Varthaman. He at once became India's newest hero.
Pakistan also ended all diplomatic ties,  expelled Indian high commissioner and even closed air, land, railway and business ties with India after the Narendra Modi-led government scrapped article 370 in August that revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

However, both the nations united momentarily over the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration in November this year. India signed the agreement with Pakistan on October 24, 2019 on the modalities for operationalisation of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor at Zero Point, International Boundary, Dera Baba Nanak. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 9 from the Indian side opened the Kartarpur Corridor, the crossborder pathway, which  allowed the Sikh pilgrims in India visit Gurudwara Kartapur Sahib in Pakistan.


Modimania prevails:
BJP strongman and perhaps a political rockstar for the ruling party-Narendra Modi-guided his team to script another Lok Sabha victory to return to power for the second consecutive term in the passing year. Narendra Modi was back to serve India for another five years till 2024, a decade in the history of the country which witnessed the rise of a promising Prime Minister in 2014 from the coast of Gujarat.

Congress pinched in general polls:

The Congress party further slipped from its position in the Lok Sabha polls, forcing even Rahul Gandhi to quit as President of the ‘grand old party’ of the country. At this time of leadership crisis within the party, the Congress once again rested their faith in seasoned leader Sonia Gandhi who was appointed as the interim president. The party managed to win just 52 seats in the Lok Sabha polls.

The Unexpected Kashmir Move:
As mentioned earlier, India and Pakistan’s relationship received a jolt this year and one major cause was the August 5 decision taken by Indian government over the Kashmir issue.
In a ground-breaking move since Independence, the Indian government on that day scrapped the Articles 370 and 35A which provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir.The government also bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir with an assembly and Ladakh without an assembly.
Article 35A of the Indian Constitution allowed the Jammu and Kashmir state's legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and also provided special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.
Article 370 allowed Jammu and Kashmir to have its own constitution, flag and right to handle its own laws except on matters that impact national security.

Soon after the abrogation of the articles, Kashmir was in a lockdown and senior Kashmir leaders were put under house arrest. While the government eased the restrictions in phases, top leaders of the erstwhile political elites of the state like Omar Abdullah or Mehbooba Mufti are still under detention. 
NRC-CAA-NPR: The Bitter Pills
In what could be described as few of the landmark decisions taken by the PM Narendra Modi led government in its second term, the NRC and CAA issues would remain at the top of the charts. They would remain as two major issues which triggered a massive controversy and even left the nation burning over the past couple of months. The CAA or Citizenship (Amendment) Act is an Act which will grant citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist, Jain, Christian but not Muslim refugees who came to India before 2015.The new citizenship law triggered nationwide protests which even witnessed wide participation of students of various universities in the country, spiralling into one sour candy that might give some tough moments to the government in the coming days. Away from CAA, the National Register of Citizen (NRC) issue also left the government on soft mud as opposition found the matter as a key ingredient to target it this year. More than 3.11 crore people were included in the final list of Assam's National Register of Citizen (NRC) which was released in August. A total of 3,11,21,004 people were considered eligible to be included in the final list which left out 19,06,657 people. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is the list of Indian citizens. The 1951 NRC is now being updated in Assam to identify the illegal foreigners residing in Assam.The NRC updating process is going on in Assam under the Assam Accord signed in 1985.

Who are eligible citizens in Assam?

People whose names appear on the 1951 NRC.

People whose names appear on any voter list in Assam up to March 24 midnight, 1971 and descendants.

People who came from Bangladesh between January 1, 1966, and March 24, 1971, registered themselves with the Foreigner Regional Registration Office and were declared by the Foreigner Tribunal as Indian citizens.

The Indian citizens including their descendants who moved to Assam after March 24, 1971 (they need to furnish proof of residence in another part of the country as on March 24, 1971).

Side Effects:

From West Bengal to Uttar Pradesh, severe protests against the new citizenship law rocked the nation in December. Students of various universities, including Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, participated in national-wide demonstrations and clashes with the police, triggering tension all over. The protests also recorded deaths and even marred the celebratory mood at the end of the year.  

NPR: The newest irritant 

Amid ongoing protests over the CAA, the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on December 24 approved the proposal for conducting Census of India 2021 at a cost of Rs. 8,754.23 crore and updation of National Population Register (NPR) at a cost of Rs. 3,941.35 crore. Census of India will cover the entire population in the country while NPR will also cover all the population except in the state  of Assam.                                                            
However, soon fresh political opposition and protests broke out over NPR as it is dubbed as a prelude to NRC. The Congress  said the government was bringing in the controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the “garb" of NPR while the ruling BJP rubbished it saying there is no link between NPR and NRC. The Modi government said while updating the NPR, the government will not seek any document from the people nor any biometric data and it is a form of self-declaration with no verification
BJP gets Assembly jolt:

It may be a fact that Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party returned to power with a bang by registering a massive victory in the Lok Sabha polls, but things did not remain rosy for the ruling majority party in the Assembly elections held in several states including the politically crucial Maharashtra.

In Maharashtra, BJP perhaps suffered a major loss when its relationship with long time alliance partner Shiv Sena shattered after the election result was declared. The Maharashtra election witnessed lots of drama, plots which can even give a proper Bollywood movie a run for money, this year. The poll results once again showed BJP winning 105 seats. Amid a faceoff over demand for rotational chief minister by the Shiv Sena between the BJP and Shiv Sena, NCP chief Ajit Pawar pulled out a major subplot as he gave his support to ex- CM Devendra Fadnavis and formed the government. However, the government did not last long and Ajit returned to the NCP fold once again. Ending all the speculations and coups, Shiv Sena, which won 56 seats in the Maharashtra assembly elections, joined hands with NCP (54) and Congress (44) to form and alliance. The trio formed the government and paved way for Uddhav Thackeray to become the Chief Minister of the crucial Indian state.

Jharkhand, the tribal dominated east Indian state, also slipped out of BJP’s grip when JMM-Congress and RJD alliance clinched the last Assembly elections of the year, giving the opposition some hope.The alliance won 47 seats while BJP managed only 25 in the polls, paving way for Hemant Soren to take charge of the state as the CM for yet another term.

Haryana remained the only red spot in the BJP’s otherwise poor show in the state polls where it returned to power for second straight term. But, the Haryana poll results were also not as sweet as the party would have expected as it only managed to return with a slender majority.  

Ayodhya Verdict: Supreme Court drops googly

Amid a tightened security across the nation and particularly in Uttar Pradesh, a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi on November 9 asked the Indian government to set up a trust within three months to decide on the disputed Ayodhya land for the Hindus to build a temple, while they asked for a five-acre land for the Muslims to construct a mosque in a prominent alternative location.

Inner and outer land should be given to the trust, the court said in the 70-year-old legal dispute. In a unanimous judgement, the Sunni Waqf Board was given 5 acres of alternate land.

A verdict in favour of the majority Hindu community, the disputed land now goes effectively in possession of the Indian government.
Nobel Prize and an Indian:

Abhijit Banerjee: Years after Amartya Sen, another Indian origin economist based abroad made the country proud as Kolkata’s Abhijit Banerjee won the prestigious Nobel prize in Economics. Banerjee and his wife Esther Duflo won the Nobel Prize in Economics for their "experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” As the global audience watched, a dhoti-clad Abhijit Banerjee on Dec 10 received the award along with his wife, who also happened to wear a blue saree teaming it up with a red blouse leaving the Bengali community happily surprised.

Science & Environment:
Chandrayaan 2: Moon closer but remained so far for India:

India’s ambitious Chandrayaan 2 mission occurred on July 22 when the  Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the spacecraft into Earth's orbit via Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV MkIII-M1. This was India’s second lunar mission. The main objective of the mission was to understand the moon more closely. However, things did not go down well and. On August 20, 2019, Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into lunar orbit but tragedy struck the mission in the month of September. ISRO lost contact with the Vikram lander around 2.1 km over the lunar surface on Sept 7, just five days after Vikram Lander was separated from the Orbiter in preparation for landing on Sept 2.
Pollution and Onion: Kept the Indians sleep away

The Delhi pollution tragedy grabbed attention across the globe this year. Air quality continued to dip and people in the national capital were forced to breathe in the choking air, triggering debates whether it was time to take some serious action to save Mother Earth. Images of people wearing masks to save themselves from the environmental disaster kept choking the social media and newspapers following Diwali celebrations. An image went viral online where authorities of a temple in Varanasi covered the face of the deity with mask to protect him from pollution. 

Apart from the pollution, the rising price of onion continued to bring tears in eyes of people. In different cities, onion prices ranged between Rs. 100 to 150 for the past couple of weeks. Foodies will want their unavoidable vegetable to pinch a bit lower on their pockets next year.
Crime and Punishment:

Unnao and Telangana: Year of Women insecurity

Two rape and murder incidents left the nation shocked and India remained no country for women. Four men gangraped and murdered a young veterinary doctor while she was returning on a scooter from work in Telangana on Nov 27. She was then burnt by the miscreants. The nation was left shocked once the incident came to light. Protest marches and social media outrage ignited the country which had earlier witnessed similar outcry during the 2012 NIrbhaya gangrape case. However, in a dramatic turn of events this time all the four accused in this case were arrested and then killed in an encounter by police. Once again the nation was divided on whether the police move to kill them in an alleged staged encounter was right or wrong. 
In Unnao incident, a woman on Dec 5 was set on fire when she was on her way to a court in which she was fighting a rape case.With 90 percent burns, the woman was transferred to Delhi where she later died. The key accused in the case was Shivam Trivedi. He had promised to marry the victim but kept her in captivity as a sex slave.Later, an FIR was lodged in connection with the case and Shivam surrendered in a court. He was released on bail in November this year.
Meanwhile, a Delhi court in December convicted former Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker Kuldeep Singh Sengar in connection with the rape of a 16-year-old girl in 2017 when she had approached him for help to get a job. In July in a mysterious car crash blamed on the men of this jailed lawmaker, the victim was seriously injured while both her aunts, who had been travelling with her, died. Her lawyer was seriously wounded.


End of Terror King: Baghdadi Dies
Giving relief to millions of people across the globe, terror group ISIS this year informed the world about the death of their chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October. However, the group also named their new leader as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. Before ISIS made the announcement, US President Donald Trump had shared the information about Baghdadi’s death during an American commando raid on his compound in northern Syria.

Boris Johnson becomes UK PM:
British PM Boris Johnson returned to power as he led his Conservative Party to score one of the country's most dramatic electoral victories in decades. His victory ensured that the PM will now march ahead with his single promise of "get Brexit done." His key opponent Jeremy Corbyn suffered a massive defeat which even dashed his Labour Party’s hope of returning to power.

Afghanistan trusts Ashraf Ghani:
 Ashraf Ghani once against returned for a second term as the President of Afghanistan after registering a narrow victory in the polls over his key rival Abdullah Abdullah. Amid allegation of fraud and malpractice in the September 28 election, Ghani registered  50.64 per cent votes. Abdullah Abdullah negated the results and even vowed to challenge it.

Donald Trump Impeached:
The sounds of his impeachment had been ringing for a long time and 2019 witnessed the incident turn to reality. Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives. He will now face the trial in the Senate that will decide whether he remains in office for the rest of his tenure. Trump became the third US President, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton to be impeached.
Image:Creative Commons
Greta Thunberg: The Bright Spot in fight against Climate Change:

Greta Thunberg, the teenager, who has started her war against climate change, challenging politicians to act fast against the disaster, may not have won the Nobel Prize this year but was named as Time's Person of the Year. Greta became the icon of teenagers across the globe as she led them in a global youth movement, pressing for faster action climate change. She also earned global recognition by making a powerful speech at the UN Climate Change Summit. Winning the accolade remained specially relevant in a year when the Amazon burned, endangering the major green cover of the Earth. Environmental groups have been campaigning to save the Amazon for a long period of time. They have even blamed Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro for the events. They have continuously blamed the Brazilian leader of relaxing environmental controls in the country and encouraging deforestation.

Easter Sunday Bombings in Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka, the country which had witnessed long years of civil unrest, once again plunged into darkness as 259 people lost their lives and 500 people were injured in a series of coordinated bombings that targeted 3 churches and 3 luxury hotels on the Easter Sunday in April. The incident shocked the world and Islamic State claimed responsibility for the incident, making their presence felt in the Island Nation.

New Zealand's Christchurch mosque shootings:
A gunman, who live-streamed the entire event, shot dead 51 Muslims as he attacked two mosques in Christchurch city of New Zealand on March 15. In the following months, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took immediate steps and banned semi-automatic weapons and launched a gun amnesty and buyback scheme in the country.

Hong Kong: Anti-China protests hits normal life

Anti-China protests have badly hit normal life in the picturesque city of Hong Kong and even in the end of December there seems to be no end to the protests which even occurred during Christmas. In June, clashes and protests were first reported in the city over government’s plans to allow extradition to mainland China. Critics voiced the fear that the move could undermine judicial independence and endanger dissidents. The bill was withdrawn in September but protests continued to rock the nation over numerous demands including full democracy. Britain had ruled Hong Kong until 1997. It was then returned to China. Under the "one country, two systems" arrangement, the region, despite being within China, enjoys certain autonomy.


India fail to reach Final:

Dreams of over millions of Indians were shattered in a time of 30 minutes when India lost their semi-final encounter by losing their key top-order batsmen against New Zealand in the World Cup. Despite MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja’s late heroics, the match had already slipped out of India’s grasp and New Zealand beat them to cruise to the final where they lost to England in a dramatic Super Over event. England grabbed their first World Cup after a long wait since the start of the tournament in 1975.

KL Rahul-Hardik Pandya: Chat show, gossips and controversy

Indian cricketers KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya found themselves in deep trouble when certain comments they made during their appearance in a popular chat show, hosted by filmmaker Karan Johar, hurt sentiments and even left them lose their places from Team India. The Indian cricket board sent the duo back home from their Australian tour and even suspended them provisionally. Hardik and Rahul later apologised for their statements. Later, both of them played for the national side in the World Cup, surely moving ahead from the row which their comments had caused across the nation at the beginning of the year.

Sourav Ganguly: Dada heads BCCI

Sourav Ganguly, former Indian skipper, will always be remembered for shaping a Young Indian squad that played fearlessly against all opponents and even dared to defeat the mighty Australians in the early 2000s. Ganguly, who is now showing some charisma as a cricket administrator, was elected as the head of the Indian cricket board, starting a new innings n his career.

Pink Ball phenomenon:

Years after it was introduced in international cricket, India finally joined the Pink ball phenomenon as the nation hosted the first match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata against Bangladesh. India won the Test match comfortably. However, the match will be remembered for its massive crowd pulling power which surely hinted administrators that such an event might be banked on in the next year to bring back youth to watch Test matches in stadium once again.

PV Sindhu breaks records again:

India’s badminton poster girl PV Sindhu once again bloomed hopes for a Olympic medal victory when she became the first Indian shuttler to clinch the gold medal at the BWF World Championships. In her winning ways, Sindhu defeated her arch rivals Nozomi Okuhara 21-17,21-7 in the finals of the women's singles at the 2019 BWF World Championships held in Basel, Switzerland.  

India’s new Golden girl Dutee.

Another Olympic medal hope, Dutee Chand made a major mark internationally when she won the gold medal in the 100m dash at the 30th Summer University Games in Napoli, Italy. She became the first Indian athlete to win the yellow medal at the prestigious event. She continued her golden run and even won gold in the 100 m at the Indian Open Grand Prix.

Movies and Entertainment: The Newsmakers:

Ayushmann Khurrana: If you argue that 2018 was his best then think again as Ayushmann Khurrana, Bollywood's present poster boy, delivered it even bigger this year with three consecutive hits. The Ayushmann mania has been sweeping the Bollywood shores for the past couple of years and this time it started with the thriller Article 15. Then came Dream Girl, with its hidden soft message against the trouble of loneliness faced by people today. With his last release Bala, Ayushmann remained the hit maker of the year, creating probably a new formula for upcoming stars to follow in the coming days.  

Ranveer Singh:  Ranveer Singh only gets bigger and bigger. This year, he was seen giving life to the character of Mumbai rapper Murad Ahmed in the movie Gully Boy. He even performed 'Apna Time Ayega' with such perfection that professional rap artists will get a run for their money. He was seen pairing up with Alia Bhatt in the movie, a first in their careers. The movie has been selected as India's entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. In 2020, he will be seen playing onscreen Kapil Dev in 83.  

Modi and Bollywood for Gandhi:  

In an unprecedented event, a chunk of Bollywood fraternity gathered at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's residence in Octber to promote Mahatma Gandhi's ideologies on the occasion of the Father of the Nation's 150th birth anniversary (which falls on Oct 2). In a two-minute video posted by Modi on Twitter, film personalities Aamir Khan, Alia Bhatt, Salman Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Vicky Kaushal and Shah Rukh Khan were seen reciting the quotable quotes of Mahatma Gandhi. Filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, whose films were known for reintroducing Gandhi's ideals as Gandhigiri in modern times, made the video. With hashtag #ChangeWithin, the Prime Minister said on Twitter, "The film fraternity comes together to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi! #ChangeWithin is an excellent effort, which will add momentum towards ensuring Gandhi Ji’s message reverberates far and wide. It will also inspire citizens to take up causes dear to Bapu."

Rest In Peace:

Arun Jaitley (28/12/1952-24/08/2019): India former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley died in New Delhi on Aug 24. PM Narendra Modi lovingly remembered him as his ‘dost’ (friend) following his death. Jaitley did not fight Lok Sabha polls this year due to his poor health.

Sushma Swaraj (14/02/1952-06/08/2019): India’s loved External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj did not contest the Lok Sabha polls this year and died just days before Jaitley’s death left the nation shocked.  Swaraj breathed her last just hours after she congratulated Modi and his government over their decision to revoke special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Manohar Parrikar (13/12/1955-17/03/2019): The sitting CM of Goa Manohar Parrikar, who was the first  Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) alumnus to become a Chief Minister,  died due to pancreatic cancer. He had also served as the Indian Defence Minister in his political career.  

Sheila Dikshit (31/03/1938-20/07/2019): A powerful Congress leader, Sheila Dikshit, will be remembered as the longest serving  Chief Minister of any state or union territory (UT).She had served Delhi for three terms as CM. She was the president of the Delhi Congress at the time of her death. She had also served as the Governor of Kerala during her lifetime.