2016, is by and large, being considered a year of duds. We saw a number of events take place, and most of them for worse of humankind.
The year started off on a flat note, and expectations were not high, but a few months in and things took a turn for the worse, in India and elsewhere around the globe.
We saw several, dearly loved and celebrated global stars and leaders leave for their heavenly abode. Political tables were turned in the US and UK. Syria saw a rise in atrocities against humanity, and the decisions of a certain few lit both, money, and Kashmir, on fire.
To sum the year up, we take a walk down memory lane, and relive the bad, the worse and the ugly.
16 YEARS INTO THE 21ST CENTURY & WE’RE STILL FIGHTING TERRORISM:
In January of this, India received a rather ghastly new year’s present; on January 2, a heavily armed Kashmir based terrorist group attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station. The cross fire lasted for about 4 days, and took the lives of six Indian soldiers, along with five attackers.
This sudden attack on the Indian forces received severe backlash, both in India and overseas, but, what it really did was hamper the already fragile relationship between India and Pakistan.
What followed the Pathankot attack was an attack in Udhampur, the killing of Burhan Wani, Kashmir under curfew, pellet gun attacks and stone pelting in the valley, followed by the Uri attack in Kashmir and eventually India’s much publicised surgical strike on Pakistan.
For a moment, it felt as if the two neighbours might go war, fortunately, heated verbal exchanges between the political leaders from the two nations, sufficed.
The series of terrorist attacks throughout this year brought the humanitarian issues in Kashmir to the forefront as well; closing of public institutions, schools, hospitals, and life in general coming to a standstill made us think if the worth the fight for an independent state is worth the cost of the human lives lost.
Globally, as well, things were not looking up; the crisis in Syria went from bad to worse, as approximately 11 million people have either been killed or displaced; humanity has been put to test in Syria, as the civil war continues, and innocent citizens continue to suffer. Whether an internal strife, or a proxy war being fought at the behest of global powers, remains to be decided, but rise and spread of terrorism has certainly made this the worst humanitarian crisis of this year, and probably our generation.
More recently this year, big cities like Brussels and Berlin were attacked by terrorists as well, once again, compelling us to question, where are we really headed in our fight against terrorism, locally, as well as well as globally.
A YEAR OF POLITICAL UPHEAVALS: BREXIT, DEMONETISATION AND TRUMP!
The European Union had been crumbling for a while, with the Greek currency crisis hitting it extremely hard last year; however, earlier this year, 2016 reared its obnoxious face once again.
The United Kingdom, in its highest ever voter turnout nationally, voted to exit the European Union. The surprising exit, termed Brexit, took place on June 23, and left the UK in a political turmoil. The then British Prime Minister, David Cameron resigned, having unsuccessfully campaigned for the UK to remain as a part of EU; Teresa May was subsequently elected as the new Prime Minister.
Scotland and Northern Ireland, on the hand, had voted to remain as part of the European Union, however, were left to suffer at the hands of those who wanted out. As of now, the UK government is preparing to fully exit EU by March 2019, whereas the Scottish government plans a second referendum to exit the UK, and work on remaining a part of EU.
Things were going smooth, so to speak, when in November, people were hit with two big surprises – PM Modi implementing the demonetisation scheme, and Donald Trump defeating Hillary Clinton to become the President of the United States.
Quite honestly, Trumps election as the President of the US was as unexpected as the MS Dhoni bowling in a cricket match, but to everyone’s surprise, it did happen. Post the elections, political commentators and analysts were not surprised at his win, as they believed that Clinton, from the very onset, was not the right candidate for the Democrats; but for global citizens watching the drama unfold, quietly from the side-lines, Clinton really seemed like the lesser of the two evils. Her close association with Obama, and her stand on popular issues like the rights of immigrants and women’s rights, made her more likeable than, the rather jingoistic, racist, and homophobic Trump.
Finally, the deadliest ball was bowled on November 8, when, at 8 PM IST, PM Narendra Modi implemented the demonetisation scheme nationwide, leaving the citizens of the country in a flux.
500 and 1000 rupee notes, within a matter of minutes, seized to hold monetary value, deeming them as pieces of paper; ₹2000 notes were introduced, in small quantities, and all of this was done in the name of eradicating black money.
Initially, many appreciated the move, until, the had to wait in long ques outside banks, until ATMs stopped working for a week, and until they had no means of converting black money into white.
The move, which earlier seemed like a wise step towards metaphorically cleaning the country of the dirt hidden inside lockers at homes, has now come to seem like a farce with the government and RBI announcing new rules and regulations every other day.
Has it helped eradicate black money? Yes, to a certain extent. Has it given certain political leaders the change to create upheaval in the country? Yes, it most definitely has. Has it, once again, stopped the already sluggish parliament sessions, to not work at all? Yes & yes!
That said, the success of this scheme can only be judged once the government introduces supplementary schemes to support the results which they have been able to achieve from demonetisation, and for that, we will have to wait. For now, all we can say is that, the demonetisation demon refuses to die.
‘WE ARE ALL VISITORS TO THIS TIME, THIS PLACE. WE ARE JUST PASSING THROUGH…’
As if humanitarian crisis and political upheavals were not enough, 2016 also took away some popular figures from the world of entertainment, sports and politics.
The year began with the sad demise of famous singer David Bowie, followed by the death of our dear Snape, aka, Alan Rickman, who lost his life to Cancer.
American author, Harper Lee, who gave the world one of the most beautiful pieces of writing in the form of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ left us in February.
Later, the world of music lost one of its greatest singers, Prince, at the young age of 57, in April.
Sadly, one of the greatest boxers that the world has ever seen, Muhammed Ali passed away in June.
Famous political figures like, J Jayalalithaa, who lost her 75-day long battle against her crumbling health, bid adieu to the mortal world in December and Fidel Castro, the great Cuban revolutionary, passed away, at the age of 90, in November.
The most recent, sudden and shocking death of the year was that of Wham! singer and pop icon George Michael, who passed away on December 26, at the age of 53, from a cardiac arrest.
“2016, YOU’RE DRUNK, GO HOME!”
All in all, the year was one of great lows, rather than highs; furthermore, there were other disappointing events like the ban of Pakistani artists in India, Karan Johar’s public apology for choosing to work with certain actors, and the ugly fight between the makers of Udta Punjab and the Censor Board for a right as basic as the freedom of expression, which deserve a special mention in our 2016 round up.
A few trivial, but joyous landmarks like the 15 years of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, the release of films like Pink, Parched, Kapoor and Sons, Sarabjit, and Dangal, definitely made the year a better one.
But, for now, our fingers are crossed, and our expectations low, for what’s in store, from the year to come.