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Farewell 2016: That Was the Year That WasIndia Blooms News Service
Politics and Economy
Demonetisation pangs: For ages India can state their own eventful 9/11, away from the tragic militant attack that had hit America on Sept 11, 2001, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on television a move to fight against corruption by banning all Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes. Two days after the 8.00 pm declaration by the Prime Minister, in unprecedented scenes, millions of people since Nov 10 morning thronged in front of banks across the country to deposit the now-invalid Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes. The Government had asked the people to deposit their Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes in banks within a specific time frame and get smaller denominations in exchange. It had also announced that deposits above Rs. 2.5 lakh will be taxed and could draw a 200 per cent penalty if found disproportionately higher than the account owner's income. However, the transition was far more painful than perhaps the government had foreseen.
The move was welcomed by many while it earned the wrath of some major opposition parties. The Congress and Trinamool Congress were among many other political parties which waged a battle against the Centre over the note ban move. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee went to the extent of going to different states to attack Modi and demanded the resignation of the PM for his failure.
With increasing queues in front of banks and non availability of valid currency notes in several ATMs, Modi found himself in a spot.
There were also incidents of several people passing away while standing for hours in bank and ATM queues. However, the Prime Minister has so far continued to back up his move by saying it will help in fighting terrorism, black money and turn India into a cashless society.
While Mamata's tirade continued, Rahul Gandhi has pulled out a rabbit from his hat when he recently alleged that Modi took money from the Sahara and Birla groups when he was Gujarat Chief Minister.The BJP, however, rubbished the charge.
With Dec 30 being set by the government as a deadline for submitting all old notes and the Prime Minister promising to end all troubles faced by people in the 50 days period, it will be now an interesting phase to see how things unfold.
Modi captures Time: Amid criticisms by opposition parties over his cash ban move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued his dominance and presence in the international arena when he won the Reader’s Poll for 'TIME Person of the Year'. According to the Time magazine, "Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won the online reader’s poll for TIME Person of the Year, beating out other world leaders, artists and politicians as the most influential figure in 2016 among people who voted."
GST Bill Approval: Considered as one of the biggest tax reforms since the nation got independence in 1947, the Rajya Sabha on August 3 passed the Goods and Services Tax Constitutional Amendment Bill which aims to bring in a uniform tax regime in the country. The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill for the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was later again passed by the Lok Sabha this year, with 443 members present in the House voting in favour of the legislation. The government is aiming to implement the GST from April 1, 2017.
Mamata captures Bengal again: West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo once again came to power in West Bengal, this time with more votes, and formed her government for the second consecutive term. Despite opposition trying to capture the political ground with Narada and Saradha scams, Mamata Banerjee and her party candidates won the crucial 2016 elections with a bigger margin. She was re-elected to power with 211 seats out of total 294 in West Bengal. The election assumed significance as the Left and the Congress, who are considered to be bitter political rivals once, had formed an alliance in the state to contest against the ruling TMC. However, the alliance could only manage 75 seats.
Assam turns saffron: Under the leadership of Sarbananda Sonowal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) penetrated into Assam and formed the government after winning the elections, removing Tarun Gogoi's Congress rule. The BJP won 86 seats in the 126-seat Assembly by defeating the Congress, which managed to win only 24 seats. Sonowal took oath as the Chief Minister of the state on May 24.
Kerala and Puducherry polls: While Kerala witnessed the Left Democratic Front coming to power once again, the Congress won the elections in Puducherry.
AIADMK captures Tamil Nadu, but Jayalalithaa no more: Tamil Nadu witnessed their own Amma and her AIADMK capturing the assembly polls earlier this year. She took oath as the Chief Minister of the state, amid wide celebrations in May. However, the year ended in a tragedy when J Jayalalithaa, after undergoing treatment for several months at a Chennai hospital, passed away on Dec 5. The five-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu left her fans shocked and heart-broken. Jayalalithaa, who was known for her efficient and strong administration, left her eventful legacy behind. After her death, senior AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam on Dec 6 took oath as the new Tamil Nadu CM while long time aide of the Amma,became the general secretary of the party.
Jammu and Kashmir: While Conflict eroded peace in the Valley, Mehbooba Mufti becomes the first woman CM of Jammu and Kashmir: After her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away on January 7, Mehbooba Mufti was sworn in as the first woman Chief Minister of the north Indian state on April 4.
Terrorism lashes India:
Pathankot: On January 2, as India was slowly getting back to normal life after the New Year celebration, attack on Pathankot airbase in Punjab left everyone rattled. The relationship between India and Pakistan which touched new low this year was led by this incident. India blamed Pakistan for carrying out the attack. Islamabad had even sent a probe team to India to investigate the Pathankot attack.
Pampore: June 25 saw another massive militant attacked on a CRPF vehicle near Pampore on Srinagar-Jammu highway which left eight security personnel killed and injured 22 others. Pakistan based terror outfit Lashar-e-Taiba claimed responsibility for the attack.
Uri: September 18 witnessed a major militant attack in Jammu and Kashmir when four terrorists sneaked into the Uri Army camp and lobbed grenades before making brush fire as most of the soldiers were in sleep. The incident left 19 Indian jawans martyred. In the wake of the Uri attack, the Indian government did not participate in the scheduled SAARC Summit in Islamabad.
Surgical Strike: Indian government gave a strong reply to the neighbouring nation following the Uri attack by launching the surgical strike on terror camps across the border. India on September 28-29 past midnight carried out surgical strikes crossing the Line of Control (LoC) into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, targeting seven terrorist launchpads working from within the neighbouring country.The strikes were launched by the Indian Army at the KG sector of Poonch district.
Baramulla attack: Continuing the deteriorating relationship between India and Pakistan, at least two militants and a jawan were killed during an attack at an army base in Baramulla town of north Kashmir in October.
Burhan crisis: Kashmir plunged into deep crisis in 2016, with the Valley witnessing unrest, curfew and tension for several days, following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. Security forces killed the militant leader. The Valley witnessed massive outrage following spread of rumour that Burhan Wani was killed when he was unarmed. The security forces, however, dismissed the allegations. At least 86 people were killed in the next few months as street protests and clashes between protestors and security forces set the Valley on fire. Schools and business institutions remained shut for days, disturbing life in the Valley, amid curfew and complete shutdown. Pakistan also condemned the killing of top Hizb Commander.
The sporting world was abuzz with major events like the Olympics and Euro Cup and Cricket T20 World Cup. Though the usual suspects made it big, 2016 truly belonged to the newcomers, who made the right splash at the biggest level
This sport witnessed a sea change this year. From India's (BCCI) change in their UDRS (Umpires Decision Referral System) to the return of the Caribbean Calypso, the cricketing world was jam packed with action. Here's a list of the few glorious moments.
Virat Kohli: Like his name (Huge), Virat Kohli too made it large in 2016. He started the year with centuries down under (Australia) and never looked back. With four centuries in one season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Virat stood out for his athleticism on the field. Off it, his relationship with Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma made the headlines. Virat also became the first batsman to notch up double hundreds in three consecutive Test series. He also has the most number of double hundreds in Test by an Indian skipper. Under his leadership, the Indian Test team is currently bulldozing opponents at will. An 18 Tests unbeaten run is a testament to that.
India complete Asia Cup treble: Much like the West Indies, India too completed their treble in the Asia Cup, as the U19 team, Women's Team and the Men's team all lifted the silverware at different times of the year. the most recent one came in form of the U19 boys as they successfully managed to defend their title, defeating hosts Sri Lanka.
From Ronaldo's Euro win to Messi's 'retirement', the football world wasn't devoid of action.
Messi decides to hang his boots: In the month of June, Argentine striker Lionel Messi left his fans and the fraternity shell shocked as he announced his retirement. A decision taken in haste, the FC Barcelona star decided to quit playing for his country following Argentina's humiliating loss against Chile in the Copa America Final. However, less than two months after his announcement, the fans breathed a sign of relief as he broke his retirement and was eventually named in the country's squad for World Cup Qualifiers.
Ronaldo's Euro win: He came, he played and he won. Cristiano Ronaldo may not have scored the winning goal, as he was sidelined with an injury much before the ending whistle was blown, but his guidance from the pitch side proved his desperation. Portugal won and Ronaldo lifted the silverware, as France witnessed another CR7 episode.
Vijender Singh, the ringmaster: Indian Vijender Singh was called names when he gave up amateur boxing and opted for a pro career. But one must say, two years later, the man still stands undefeated. Singh has been tried eight times and has come out a winner. His latest win over Francis Cheka, where he knocked out his opponent is a testament to his work ethic. Earlier this year, he also made the country proud by outsmarting Australian pugilist Kerry Hope to clinch the WBO Asia Pacific title. The match was contested in Delhi, India, as the home crowd witnessed the desi hero live in action for the first time in his pro career.
The Indian Olympic campaign started on a slow note. With most contestant ousted, the medal hopes too waned. But it all changed as Sakshi Malik gave India a bronze and the rest followed.
Sakshi Malik: Haryana's Sakshi Malik did it that way and made it count. Handed a chance in repechage, Sakshi grappled her way to the podium as she took out her Kyrgyzstani opponent Aisuluu Tynybekova 8-5. What made it a even better match was that the Indian grappler was trailing 0-5 at one point.
PV Sindhu: If Malik gave us a Bronze, Sindhu was lined up for a Gold, but ended short, albeit with a Silver. Carolina Marin, the Spaniard played a perfect game, but not before losing a set to PV Sindhu in the mega final. Sindhu's silver is the highest honour an Indian shuttler has achieved so far in the Olympics. She bettered Saina Nehwal's bronze win at London Olympics in 2012.
Dipa Karmakar: No, she did not win a medal, she won a million hearts. For years, India did not have a female Olympian gymnast and Dipa made the nation proud when she qualified and as she vaulted her way past the opponents in the finals, Dipa was a sensation. She attempted the Produnova, a difficult set, one even the most seasoned stay away from. When she narrowly missed the medal, a contestant said it's fitting to change the name Produnova to the Karmakar vault!
In Memorium :
2016 accounted for the death of a slew of stars from different arenas.
Muhammad Ali: (January 17, 1942-June 3, 2016) Perhaps the greatest sporting legend the world has witnessed, Muhammad Ali died following a bout of illness. In his hay days, Ali punched out opponents at will and won several matches in his career, but lost his last one against Parkinson's.
Fidel Castro: The poster boy of communism in Cuba, Fidel Castro (August 13, 1926-Nov 25, 2016) died at the ripe old age of 90. Castro, Cuba's first President, ruled the nation with an iron fist. During his regime, he defied 10 US Presidents.
Leonard Cohen: Some call him the greatest singer-song writer ever, for Leonard Cohen's (September 21, 1934-November 7, 2016) voice defined a generation. Among this Canadian's greatest songs are Hallelujah and Suzanne.
David Bowie: A cult figure in the music circuit, David Bowie breathed his last on January 10, 2016. He was suffering from liver cancer.
Prince: American singer and multi instrumentalist Prince Rogers Nelson, better known by his mononym Prince died on Apr 21, 2016, in Chanhassen, Minnesota, United States. This talented musician died of opioid overdose.
George Michael: The latest musician to bow down this year, George Michael (June 25, 1963-December 25, 2016) gave us songs like Last Christmas and Careless Whisper. An LGBTQ icon, many referred to his voice as the closest to the inimitable Freddie Mercury's.
Jayalalithaa: Thousands flocked to the iconic Marina beach in Chennai on Dec 6 this year to pay their last respect to Amma, who died the day earlier, following illness. Jayaram Jayalalithaa's death sent shock waves across the nation and more so in the Tamil community as they mourned for seven days while the country observed a similar state for a day. A seasoned politician, Jayalalitaa was at the helm of her acting prowess when she decided to ditch her career and match steps with her political mentor and celluloid colleague MG Ramachandran.
Carrie Fisher: A star at just 19 years of age, Fisher, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds, an actress, found life difficult for her. Often hailed as one of the smartest and wittiest workers in Hollywood, Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had to fight addiction. She died on Dec 27, 2016. Among her iconic roles is Princess Leia from the Star Wars film. She was 60 years old.
Alan Rickman: This veteran thespian was 70 at the time of his death on Jan 14, earlier this year. He enthralled the audience with his rich voice and found fame as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies. Rickman died of pancreatic cancer.
Johan Cruyff: One of the best football player of his generation, Dutch Johan Cruyff died of lung cancer on March 24, 2016. He was 69 years old. Cruyff won the FIFA Ballon d'Or three times in his career.
From migrant crisis to Aleppo, certain things kept simmering through.
Trump takes White House: Hillary Clinton was very close to creating history, but in the end Donald Trump made it through and registered his name as the 45th President of the United States of America. Contrary to the exit polls and pundits' opinion, Trump won the election handsomely, clinching key states as Hillary's dream of becoming the first female President of the US was crushed.
Mother Teresa a saint: Mother Teresa, who dedicated her life serving the poor, on Sept 4, 2016 was declared a saint by Pope Francis officially in the Vatican City in the presence of tens of thousands of her followers and admirers, just 19 years after her death, even as Kolkata, the city she adopted for her work, celebrated the occasion. Pope Francis around 1030 am local time (2 pm India) began the ceremony at the Vatican to canonise the Catholic nun at St Peter's Square. He later officially declared her a saint. Mother was beatified as "Blessed Teresa of Calcutta" on Oct 19 in 2003 after a first miracle and a second required miracle was credited to her intercession by Pope Francis, in Dec 2015, paving the way for her to be recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
Calais Jungle destroyed: After a gap of one year, the French government finally decided to destroy the Calais Jungle, a migrant settlement camp and hotbed of illegal activities. Around 4000 refugees were living there before the government took a final call and decided to send the inhabitants to proper accommodation centres.
Migrant/Refugee problem persists: The refugee problem was far from over in 2016. Though several people found places to live in, the conditions were not suitable. Reports of people taking to prostitution as a means of survival have done the rounds too. Many have also died, either on a voyage or unable to beat the living condition.
Aleppo: In this never ending contest between few power hungry, trigger happy 'war-lords', unfolded the grimmest saga of 2016. Syrian city Aleppo has witnessed destruction of all forms this year and since the war started there in 2012. Several lives have been lost, important architectures transformed into ruins and even with the constant chiding and warnings of top watchdogs, it is still far from over. In Dec, the Syrian government took full control of Aleppo following a successful offensive. Civilians in Aleppo lived under the blockade and suffering from the shortage of medical staff, water, electricity and food.