2010: The havoc, the hype & the happening

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Events that shaped the year

THE HAVOC

April  DANTEWADA

THE MAOIST BLOODBATH

On 6 April, the paramilitary forces suffered the highest casualty in their fight against the Maoists. In the jungles of Dantewada, the Naxals ambushed a battalion of Central Reserve Police Force and massacred 77 jawans. Buoyed by their success, the rebels continue with their bloodbath. Failure of proper strategy, justice or development- based intervention from the State has fuelled the cycle of violence throughout 2010.

August  INDIA

WHEN QUESTIONS TURN INTO DEATH SENTENCES

The Right to Information (RTI) Act remains a great hope for India’s democracy. However, nine RTI activists were killed this year. Of them, Ramdas Ghadegaonkar, 43, had probed into a sand mafia case in Maharashtra, while Amit Jethwa, 32, exposed a network of illegal mining in Gir. Datta Patil, 47, was shot for exposing corrupt politicians in Kolhapur.

September  WEST BENGAL

SPEEDING TRAIN KILLS SEVEN ELEPHANTS

In a heart-rending moment, seven elephants were mowed down by a speeding train. The herd was trying to save two elephant calves trapped on the Siliguri-Alipurduar railway track when it was hit by the train.

May  MUMBAI

KASAB GETS THE DEATH SENTENCE

Finally, the lone surviving gunman from the 26/11 terror attack was sentenced to death. Pakistan national Ajmal Kasab, 22, was found guilty of murder, abetment to murder and waging war against India.

September  WEST BENGAL

IMPEACHMENT MOVE ON CALCUTTA HC JUDGE

A Rajya Sabha inquiry committee found Soumitra Sen guilty of “misappropriating funds” after 58 MPs moved an impeachment motion against him in 2009. Sen is the second judge to face such proceedings.

May  KARNATAKA

RENT A RIOT

If you have always suspected the intentions of the self-appointed moral police, this was the year to confirm your suspicions. A TEHELKA exposé showed Sri Ram Sene leaders agreeing on camera to organise a riot for cash.

July  GUJARAT

AMIT SHAH GOES TO JAIL

On 3 July, TEHELKA published call records that indicted Amit Shah, the then Gujarat minister of state for home and close aide of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. Following a CBI chargesheet, Shah resigned but took four days to surrender. Three months later, he was released on bail in the Supreme Courtsupervised case.

November  NEW DELHI

A RAJA AND THE 2G SCAM

Raja’s role came under scrutiny when a CAG report revealed that the then telecom minister’s decision to allot 2G spectrum had led to a revenue loss of Rs. 1.7 lakh crore to the exchequer. This was followed by Raja’s resignation. The Opposition demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the matter, the government refused to oblige. The winter session was wasted in the tug of war between them.

April  NEW DELHI

THE TWEETS THAT BURST THE IPL BUBBLE

Lalit Modi, the founder-commissioner of the IPL, fell from grace after a tweet implying that Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor had helped his friend (and later wife) Sunanda Pushkar get Rs. 70 crore in sweat equity. Pushkar was pilloried. Tharoor resigned. The government had embarrassing questions about Modi’s income and the BCCI sacked him.

November  NEW DELHI

NIIRA RADIA TAPES

The tapping of lobbyist Niira Radia’s calls by the Income Tax department had nationwide reverberations. When the tapes leaked, India heard Radia, the heads of powerful corporations and prominent journalists — all manipulating public interest.

April  KARNATAKA

REDDY BROTHERS EXPOSED

Rumours that the powerful Reddy brothers were running India’s biggest illegal mining racket in Bellary were confirmed with a Lokayukta investigation. But the state government’s interference led to the resignation of Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, who withdrew it later.

November  INDIA

ADARSH AND OTHER LAND SCAMS

A 31-storey Colaba high rise meant for Kargil war widows became a metaphor for political land scams. Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan was forced to resign. TEHELKA exposed several such land scams through discretionary allotments in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Chief Ministers BS Yeddyurappa and M Karunanidhi, among others, were allegedly involved.

August  LADAKH

THE FLOODS THAT SHOOK THE VALLEY

More than 180 dead. Another 100 missing. Crops washed away. Mass destruction. Flash floods hit the Himalayan region of Ladakh. Believed to be the worst flood in the past 80 years, it entailed one of the biggest rescue operations, involving 6,000 Indian Army soldiers in relief work. The heavy rains that followed did not help the rescue efforts either as many roads leading to Leh were damaged.

 

THE HYPE

  NEW DELHI

THE YEAR OF HIGH FIVES

The South Block mandarins see it as evidence of India’s growing geopolitical influence — the year when leaders of all five permanent UN Security Council members came to applaud the growth story called India. British Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, all had their 2010 date with India.

October  NEW DELHI

THE CWG OPENING AND MEDAL TALLY

Weeks of muck-raking headlines and indignant exposés were forgotten as the pageantry of the opening ceremony lulled our protesting minds. The fingers that were pointed towards Suresh Kalmadi and Co were later patting the backs of Indian athletes as we congratulated ourselves on our record medal haul (101), ignoring the fact that most participating countries had not even sent their best athletes.

February  TELEVISION

PRINCE NOT-S0-CHARMING

Television viewers decided to plead collective amnesia as Rahul Mahajan paraded about pretending to be a suitable boy. After a less-than-gripping swayamvar and wedding concluded, Rahul’s chosen bride Dimpy accused him of domestic violence.

September  ALLAHABAD

AYODHYA LAND VERDICT

For weeks, the country held its breath anticipating a repeat of the 1992 violence. But when the Allahabad High Court gave a split verdict in favour of all the contending parties to the Ayodhya title suit — Ram Lalla, the Sunni Waqf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara — there was an unexpected calm.

May  MUMBAI

AMBANI VERSUS AMBANI

In May, the Supreme Court ruled that the dispute between Mukesh and Anil Ambani over gas-sharing in the Krishna-Godavari basin was a matter of national interest, not individual prerogative. It was a huge setback to the Anil Ambani-owned RNRL. Add to this Mukesh’s near-mythical 27-storey house Antillia and Ambani Jr had another reason to feel intimidated this year.

August  TELEVISION

WHEN A BUST IS NOT JUST

Refusing to go away quietly post-swayamvar, Rakhi Sawant re-entered our television sets. This time, dispensing her own peculiar brand of justice to social miscreants. The show ran into trouble with the Allahabad High Court after one of the participants allegedly committed suicide after Ms Sawant called him a ‘naamard’ (impotent) on air.

 

THE HAPPENING

September  NEW DELHI

THE UNIQUE IDENTIFICATION PROJECT

At an estimated cost of Rs. 45,000 crore, the Unique Identification Project (UID) is one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind anywhere in the world. Using an army of registrars and enrollers, the UID aims to bring 60 crore people, almost half of India’s population, into its fold within four years. But concerns about privacy and surveillance remain.

April  NEW DELHI

TEACH ME OR GO TO JAIL

On 1 April, India became one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right. Every Indian child between six and 14 is now entitled to schooling. Private schools have questioned the feasibility of an all-inclusive education system. However, the move is significant considering India currently has the largest illiterate population in the world.

June  MADHYA PRADESH

JUSTICE SEES THE LIGHT OF DAY IN BHOPAL

It was the worst industrial disaster in the world and has inspired many narratives. So when a Bhopal court convicted former Union Carbide India Chairman Keshub Mahindra and seven others in the Bhopal gas tragedy case and awarded them a maximum of two years imprisonment, it seemed that a justice so delayed is indeed justice denied.

September  INDIA

INDIA SAILS THROUGH THE TESTING WATERS

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy has alternated between the Australians and Indians. But 2010 was special. India’s 2-0 win signalled the arrival of a young Indian cricket team on the Test arena.

November  BIHAR

NITISH KUMAR RETURNS TO POWER

Unlike Lalu Prasad, Kumar did not use caste, religion or lathi. Instead, he chanted the ‘development’ mantra. The voters liked the feel of it and gave him one of the biggest mandates in the history of Bihar.

September  BOLLYWOOD

THE BIG BANGG

A moustache and a pair of aviators proved to be elixir of youth for Salman Khan. Filmmaker Abhinav Kashyap’s Dabangg is the year’s biggest Bollywood hit. Proving that occasionally B-town can do irony as well as it does romance.

September  INDIA

PROTESTS AGAINST THE NUCLEAR LIABILITY BILL

India’s grand plans to expand its nuclear energy sector shook briefly. Reason? Resistance from locals at nuclear plant sites like Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, Haripur in West Bengal and Jaitapur in Maharashtra.

November  MANIPUR

IROM SHARMILA COMPLETES A DECADE OF FASTING

The Manipuri activist wastes away protesting the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Yet, the government hasn’t repealed AFSPA, which gives the forces unrestricted power in ‘disturbed’ areas.

August  BOLLYWOOD

HOW PEEPLI [LIVE] WON HEARTS

Anusha Rizvi and Mahmood Farooqui, the duo behind Peepli [Live], grew tired explaining that their film is not about farmer suicides. The quietly enraged parable of the farmer who really didn’t want to kill himself instead told the story of Indian media and its shameless love for the exploitative image and poverty porn. The film is India’s official entry for the 2011 Oscars.

October  TAMIL CINEMA

ENDHIRAN

Even with the beautiful Aishwarya Rai at his side, 60-yearold actor Rajinikanth drew the nation’s gaze to his metallic glory in the kitschy sci-fi extravaganza called Endhiran in Tamil and Robot in Hindi. Marvelling curiosity, patronising remarks, endless editorialising and dozens of SMS jokes all tried to decode the magic that is Rajini. What has he got that all of Bollywood hasn’t, ran the undercurrent.

November  NEW DELHI

ARUNDHATI CHANTS THE ‘AZADI’ MANTRA AGAIN

The Booker Prize winner stays steadfast in her dissent. Roy’s speech on azadi for Kashmir led to a court case and an FIR on sedition charges. Spirited as always, she quoted Nehru to support her stand.

November  DELHI & MUMBAI

ANISH KAPOOR

British sculptor Anish Kapoor’s massive retrospective was without doubt the biggest event in the art calendar. For the uninitiated or cynical, it was time to confirm all the canards about contemporary art — in the alienating sheen of Kapoor’s work. For the curious, a chance to experience first-hand the meditative possibilities in the scale and reflective surfaces of his oeuvre.

January-November  WEST BENGAL

TWO DEATHS, ONE ERA

Jyoti Basu, the longest serving chief minister in Indian history, was a communist who refused to become the prime minister because his party didn’t approve. Siddharth Shankar Ray, the last Congress Chief Minister of Bengal, was Indira Gandhi’s main adviser during the Emergency.

June  KASHMIR

THE CORPS OF THE STONE-THROWERS

Young Kashmiris found a new way of making themselves heard. Stones. Targets: the security forces. In retaliation, the jawans lathicharged and even opened fire. The result: 110 dead boys. Such deaths further infuriated the public. The government had to impose curfew. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah seemed particularly at a loss.

July  ANDHRA PRADESH

MAOIST LEADER SHOT DEAD, PEACE TALKS LOSE MOMENTUM

The killing of Maoist leader C Rajkumar aka Azad by Andhra Police created a furore. Activist Swami Agnivesh, who was mediating with the Maoists, called for a judicial probe, which was ruled out by Home Minister P Chidambaram.

Compiled By Kunal MajumderNishita Jha & Anamika Chatterjee