The Game Changers 2000 | 2009

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Photo: Greenpeace/Ritesh Uttamchandani

Greening Politics

India’s hunger for Industrialisation was challenged and slowed by the climate change debate

AS CLIMATE CHANGE emerged as the big concern of our times, India, both at home and abroad, became an active participant in the associated politics. It emerged a key player in the climate change talks, which in turn became an important geopolitical battleground. As Indians took to the streets to ban bulbs, firecrackers and go organic, the environment entered Indian pop consciousness this decade.

Photo: Info Gujarat

Gujarat’s Nero

The 2002 riots will always remain a part of Narendra Modi’s political narrative

CHIEF MINISTER Narendra Modi is planning to commemorate 50 years of the state in 2010, but he will always be known as the author of state-sponsored violence; as the man who worked the subcontinent’s most dangerous faultline. The 2002 riots pitched him against civil rights activists, the media and sections of the judiciary. For a man with prime ministerial ambitions, the decade ended with criticism from senior colleagues Arun Shourie and Jaswant Singh, underlining his title of Mr Unacceptable.

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

Right–Wrong

The Nandigram resistance put a brake on the Sez bulldozer

THE INIQUITOUS SEZ Act and Land Acquisition Act sought to cannibalise farmland for industry without even the basic courtesies of consensus and rehabilitation. Until Nandigram. Though a CPM stronghold, Nandigram erupted against the party when it announced that thousands of acres of fertile land would be given to the Indonesian Salim Group for a chemical hub. The revolt forced a re-evaluation of the SEZ Act and triggered the downslide of the CPM in Bengal.

Resident Indian

Opportunities in India and the global slowdown reversed the brain drain

ASHUTOSH GOWARIKER’S Swades (2004) gave the returning NRI an idealistic filmi spin by making SRK’s NASA scientist move back to conduct his experiment in rural development. But really, more repats are driving the urban real estate boom than have moved to villages. A Harvard researcher estimates 1,00,000 US “returnees” in the next five years.

Photo: AP

26/11

The brazen Mumbai attacks forced a rethink on India’s internal security

AJMAL KASAB, AK-47 in hand, hit more than just the five-star hotels in Mumbai. He shook the political establishment and the citizenry. He represented the face of urban terror and exposed India’s unpreparedness. The threeday siege forced an introspection within the government, across 24×7 newsrooms and amongst civil society.

Photo: AP

Rainbow Herring

Growing acceptance of homosexuality was marked by the reading down of the infamous section 377

IN JULY 2009, the Delhi High Court struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. This was widely celebrated as the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the carnival mask of the gay parade became ubiquitous in the media. The decade had already seen a greater visibility of gays and lesbians in the public eye from Kal Ho Na Ho, My Brother Nikhil to Dostana. But when magazine features begin recommending the ‘gay best friend’ as arm candy, you know the gay community will need its famous sense of humour (and growing social spaces) to survive its ‘outing’.

Photo: AP

Yoga Superstar

Baba Ramdev has manufactured a new age quest for ancient disciplines

ANY PERSON CLAIMING to be able to cure cancer and AIDS and homosexuality would be declared a quack. But not so the Baba, proud owner of a Scottish island, who is credited with popularising yoga, pranayama and ayurveda. Millions follow his asanas through television and videos, creating a horde of Indians who rub their nails together every spare moment, in public.

Photo: AP

Jinnah’s Lamp

Ironically, the Quaid- e-Azam prised the BIP open and Catalysed its downslide

THE RSS NEVER reconciled with Jinnah and continues to fantasise about Akhand Bharat. So the RSS was stunned when, during a Pakistan tour in 2005, LK Advani claimed Jinnah as secular. Advani was forced to step down as BJP president. This year, Jinnah rocked the RSS again. When Jaswant Singh claimed in his book that Nehru not Jinnah forced the Partition, he was sacked.

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