Remember when a Union minister resigned over allegations of sexual harassment or when four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court called for the Chief Justice of India’s impeachment? Or do you recall colourful scenes of celebration, as India shed its regressive law to embrace its LGBTQ community?
All this and more happened in India in 2018 – an at times exhilarating, history-making, somewhat troubling year. From tragedies on rail tracks, political ups and downs to glamour weddings, here is a recap of all that was 2018:
‘Democracy is in Danger’
The year started off with an “extraordinary event in the history of any nation”, as Justice Jasti Chelameswar put it, when four senior judges of the Supreme Court held a press conference to address what they perceive as a crisis in the Judiciary.
“With no pleasure we are compelled to take the decision to call a press conference. The administration of the SC is not in order and many things which are less than desirable have happened in the last few months,” Chelameswar said.
He was accompanied by Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph, and Madan Lokur.
ISRO Hits Century
India on Friday reaffirmed its space prowess and commercial launch capabilities as it successfully launched its 100th satellite along with 30 other spacecraft, including weather observation Cartosat-2 series.
This was PSLV’s longest-ever mission.
With the successful launch, including 28 satellites of foreign countries, of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), ISRO put behind it a rare failure four months ago.
‘I Am Who I Am, Take Me As I Am’: 377 Scrapped
In a landmark judgment, the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court unanimously, on 6 September, partially struck down the British-era law which criminalised consensual homosexual sex in India.
While reading his judgment on Section 377 of the IPC, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra noted, “I am what I am. So take me as I am. No one can escape from their individuality”.
‘God’s Own’ Wrath
Kerala, often dubbed as ‘God’s own country’, witnessed devastating floods due to unusually high rainfall during the monsoon season. It was the worst flood in Kerala in nearly a century.
Nearly 500 people died and about a million were evacuated – mainly from Chengannur, Pandanad, Edanad, Aranmula, Kozhencherry, Ayiroor, Ranni, Pandalam, Kuttanad, Aluva, and Chalakudy, N Paravur, Chendamangalam, Eloor and few places in Vypin Island and in few places of Palakkad.
About one-sixth of the total population of Kerala had been directly affected by the floods and related incidents. It was the worst flood in Kerala after the great flood in 1924.
‘Poetry in My Heart, Sangh in My Soul’
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away in August this year. He was India’s 10th PM, and the country’s first non-Congress PM to complete a five-year-term.
He served three terms, the first for 13 days in 1996, the second for 13 months from March 1998 to April 1999, and the third for five years from 1999-2004.
Over the course of his political career, he contested different elections to both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, winning nine and two times respectively.
Vajpayee was also a writer and a poet, publishing six poetry books.
World’s Highest Tribute
PM Narendra Modi in October unveiled Sardar Patel's 'Statue of Unity' on the banks of the river Narmada in Gujarat's Kevadiya.
Addressing the nation after the inauguration, Modi said that the day will be remembered in the history of India.
Touted as the world’s tallest statue, the project has been completed in a record 33 months. The statue has been built using over 70,000 tonnes of cement, 18,500 tonnes of reinforcement steel, 6,000 tonnes of structural steel and 1,700 metric tonnes of bronze.
Tragedy in Amritsar
Over 60 people were killed near Amritsar's Joda Phatak on Friday, 19 October, after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto the railway tracks while watching the burning of a Ravana effigy was run over by an incoming train.
It took just about 10-15 seconds for the train to pass, but it left behind a heap of crushed and dismembered bodies.
The incident sparked massive protests, with various people staging a sit-in on the tracks and clashing with security personnel.
‘The Other Men in Blue’
India defended their Blind Cricket World Cup title after defeating Pakistan by two wickets in the final in Sharjah on Saturday. It was a nail-biting finish at the end when Pakistan got two wickets in the final 11 deliveries.
But, India managed to hold their nerve and got over the line while chasing a target of 308 runs.
‘Ok Google, Show Me #Nickyanka, #DeepVeer Photos’
The year 2018 will also be remembered for its celebrated celebrity weddings. They were big, fat and ostentatious destination weddings – be it that of #DeepVeer, #NickYanka or the Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal wedding.
But it was Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’ wedding, the most searched wedlock on Google in 2018, that seemed to steal the show.
The two got married in a four-day-long function that took place in Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur in the beginning of December. The reception, in Delhi, was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
But just before that, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone sealed the deal amid much fanfare and got married in a traditional Chitrapur Saraswat-style ceremony on 14 November, followed by the Sindhi Anand Karaj ceremony on 15 November.
The couple announced their wedding in late October and enforced a strict no-photos policy at their wedding. They tied the knot at Lake Como in Italy after dating for six years.
Sonam Kapoor’s wedding to Anand Ahuja in May also deserves a honourable mention. Kapoor and her long-time beau Ahuja tied the knot on the morning of 8 May at her aunt’s home in Bandra in a traditional Sikh ceremony. The reception was held at The Leela in Andheri, Mumbai, in what was a star-studded night.
Mother of all Weddings
Isha Ambani, the daughter of India’s richest mogul, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, wed Anand Piramal on 12 December in what can arguably be described as the ‘mother of all weddings’.
After a lavish pre-wedding bash in Udaipur, which saw everyone from Beyonce to Bollywood swinging to the Ambanis’ tunes, the grand wedding took place in Mumbai at the Ambani estate.
After an evening that saw tons of Bollywood celebrities and major politicians arrive at Antilla for the festivities, the two tied the knot.
What’s in a Wink?
The ways of the Internet are strange indeed. A young woman who had only just made her debut in the Malayalam film industry found herself in unimaginable fame overnight in February this year.
Back then, everyone who has an Internet connection heard of Priya Prakash Varrier from Oru Adaar Love. Her expressions in the song Manikya Malaraya Poovihave floored netizens, leading to instant fame on social media.
But just how crazy was this obsession? Priya’s Instagram handle managed to haul an enormous number of fans almost instantly, gaining millions of digital fans (6.2 million at last count!).
Bollowood’s First Female Superstar No More
Bollywood actor Sridevi passed away in February this year after a cardiac arrest.
Her passing away came as a shock to everyone, especially the film industry and her fans.
Sridevi was Bollywood’s first female superstar. She was effortlessly expressive and her comic timing was impeccable. She was one of those rare actors who could make her audience laugh and cry within a few seconds of each other.
Sky’s No Limit!
Flying officer Avani Chaturvedi scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo, an Indian Air Force official said on Wednesday 21 February.
She undertook the sortie from the Indian Air Force base in Jamnagar, Gujarat on 19 February, he said.
She is one of the three in the first batch of female pilots, besides Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh, who were inducted in Indian Air Force fighter squadron on 18 June, 2016.
‘Sun’ Sets on TN Politics
The ‘sun’ of the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) and five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Muthuvel Karunanidhi, passed away on Tuesday, 7 August, at the age of 94, leaving behind a heart-broken state of Tamil Nadu.
The former Chief Minister’s death was mourned across the country and the state- with political leaders visiting his residence at Gopalapuram, to pay their last respects.
There are perhaps no parallels in Indian politics to Karunanidhi’s ability to endure defeats, enjoy success and survive at the helm of a state’s polity for over six decades.
‘Hello Frens, Chai Peelo!’
The ‘Chai Peelo’ Aunty challenged the idea that just sitting around drinking tea won’t make you famous.
YouTube startups trying to crack the viral code should learn from her. She was trending for like two months and now no one can write off ‘’housewife aunty-types’’ any more.
See more personalities that went viral this year.
Sea of Red - Farmers’ March
Over 30,000 farmers marched to Mumbai on 12 March in a ‘sea of red’ to demand a complete loan waiver and the implementation of the MS Swaminathanan Commission recommendations to safeguard farmers’ rights.
The march was spearheaded by the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha (AIKS), a peasants’ front of CPI(M) that works for farmers’ rights.
Similar scenes were witnessed in Delhi later in the year as hundreds of protesting farmers marched towards Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan on 29 November, demanding that their issues be raised and resolved.
The rally was organised by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), in collaboration with more than 200 other farmers’ groups.
Sabarimala, a Quest for Equality
Unprecedented high-voltage drama was inevitable as protests gripped Sabarimala shrine in Kerala this year.
The protests have Lord Ayyappa devotees on one side, who cite tradition to oppose a Supreme Court judgment overturning a ban on the entry of women into the temple.
On the other side, the fight has been spearheaded by women rights activists, who are determined to visit the shrine and uphold the SC’s judgment allowing women of all ages to enter.
The SC’s landmark judgment on came on 28 September, and declared the ban on women ages 10-40 entering the temple ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘discriminatory’.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)
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