As the year slips into the yawning mouth of history, and as another is ready to be delivered from the womb of time, the abiding sentiment of the moment is one of great hope that this paragraph will stop attempting to be pretentiously poetic.
The year-end compilations are a great tradition in the newspaper industry, wherein we collate, in convenient bite-sized nuggets, news events that had occurred over the last 365 days. The idea, in principle, is nice, save for the small niggle: During regular office days, people are too busy and can’t find time to read anything. And during year-end vacation time, they are even more busy partying and can’t find time to waste on reading.
So how do you write something that you are sure will not be read? This is how:
The New Year dawns everywhere, except in Tamil Nadu, where unbeknownst to anyone the former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who had earlier moved the Tamil New Year’s Day from April to January, seemed to have pushed the English New Year to some other date. To May 23, to be precise.
The Prime Minister declares that the primary focus for the year is combating the rising prices of essential commodities. ‘Inflation level is totally unacceptable, and if it continues to remain that way, the government will shift the case to the CBI,’ the Prime Minister tells newsmen at the sidelines of a FICCI summit.
In an emergency sitting, Parliament brings in major change to the Constitution, whose historic first lines, reflecting the mood of the nation, were changed to: ‘Why this Kolaveri di… ask We the People of India…’ The singer Dhanush is flooded with many offers for a similar song, including the one to retune the Pakistan national anthem.
The Jaipur Literary Festival gets underway amidst huge tension and tumult as Salman Rushdie is ‘advised’ to stay off from the meet. In a symbolic slap on the government, two writers step on to the podium, and start reading from the most controversial piece of literature in recent times —- Chetan Bhagat’s 355th Blunder of My Life.
On the eve of Republic Day, President Prathiba Patil exhorts the nation to use Gelusil to combat flatulence and acidity. Apparently there had been a glitch and her speech papers had been replaced by the prescription from her gastroenterologist. Luckily for her only seven people had tuned into the address. And the unanimous verdict fr0m them was: ‘this was the most sensible thing ever said by any President in this country’.
In sports news, the Indian cricket team is on a tour to Australia, and the BCCI using its clout stops adjudication on close decisions through television replays at the Australian Open Tennis.
Two unidentified persons manage to sidestep the security and enter Parliament, a feat that Union Minister M K Alagiri is yet to manage. Later it emerges that the two had even attended the Cabinet meeting. But their luck ran out as they triggered the suspicion of the security personnel when they made the novice mistake of ‘trying to engage Manmohan Singh in conversation’.
Talking of Manmohan Singh, he, in a strong show of bravado, decides to tackle the menace of inflation by preparing a dossier on it and presenting it to Pakistan.
The Supreme Court shoots off a notice to the Union government to consider the possibility of declaring the acts of courting controversy by heroes and heroines just ahead of their film’s release as a fundamental right.
Just ahead of the Oscar ceremonies, the Academy receives a joint note from actor Kamal Haasan and musician Ilayaraja in which they confessed that they had never heard of the Oscar Awards before. ‘We want to tell the Academy that it has received this note by mistake and we both have no intention of writing to the Oscar Committee ever’.
The Celebrity Cricket League (a T20 tournament involving actors across the country), becomes a huge hit forcing the BCCI to mull the possibility of launching a rival film world. But it eventually gives up the idea as film-making involves reviewing visuals on a monitor, something which the cricket board’s constitution is opposed to.
In international news, as Spain totters on the edge of economic precipice, it stands accused of forging the signature of Germany and withdrawing a huge amount from the World Bank. The controversy comes to light as Spain had signed ‘Germany’, whereas the latter uses its more personal and private name ‘Deutsche’ on cheques.
The Army Chief V K Singh is caught in a controversy over his age as the government tells that he can’t be given extension, as it had doubts over whether he had attained puberty.
In an open appeal, the Prime Minister unambiguously tells inflation ‘to give up arms and come to the negotiating table’.
In a path-breaking experiment, scientists prove that Shahid Kapoor hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely get the spelling of Eyjafjallajokull.
In the cricketing arena, Rahul Dravid announces his retirement from international cricket, and cricket fans begin to wonder whether the other man who had been at hand during almost all of India’s wins over the last 15 years or so would also follow suit. But there is no such luck. Ravi Shastri does not look like calling it a day.
On the technology front, a major crisis emerges on the evening of March 23 as twitter is down for about 10 minutes during which people across the country are pushed to the emotional extreme of not knowing what their friends are going to have for dinner that night. Some 27,53,467 thoughts went untweeted in those 10 minutes, Dubakoor, a technological firm that tracks social media trends, later revealed.
In international development, Chinese hackers, in a show of extreme brinksmanship, break into Hotel Saravana Bhavan’s home-delivery computer system. But luckily for world peace, the Chinese hackers couldn’t provide a landline number which is a prerequisite if HSB is to accept any door-delivery order. ‘This is beyond any technology,’ the obviously defeated Chinese hackers said in a succinct message left on the computer screen.
The nation realises that the year will be a historic one in terms of Presidential election, as the incoming President will be ‘the first-ever President in the annals of the country to occupy the chair after Prathiba Patil’.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dedicates to the nation an indigenously-built rocket that will keep pace with and track the movement of inflation. ‘Some up-to-date information on the movement of inflation is possible thanks to the sensors and radars on the rocket,’ a scientist was later quoted as saying.
Arindam Chaudhuri’s IIPM comes with the most meaningful and revolutionary concept in the history of management education front: Buy one degree, get another free.
Anna Hazare, the crusader against corruption, and his longtime follower Arvind Kejriwal, have a fallout. Both played down the parting of ways, but sources assert that the two had developed major ideological differences over whether to watch Indian Idol or India Has Got Talent.
In developments in the corporate world, reports emerge that Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines goes on a cost-cutting spree due to ‘tight financial situation’. The airline’s CEO, in a bid to assuage fears of impending closedown, writes to the Airport Control Authority saying that ‘it is true that we are going through a turbulent period. It is a fact that our pilots and other crewmembers are resigning. But the situation is under control, and as a commitment to those flying with us, we will continue to announce flights and continue to cancel them at the last moment’.
With just three letters to show for it, May has to be the worst recession-wise, economists conclude at Oslo, where they had gathered to get a firsthand look of how the global economy is shaping.
With inflation still ruling high, the Union Government, working in close conjunction with Interpol, issues a Red corner notice. All airports and harbours are alerted. ‘If need be, we will fight the case at the International Court of Justice, too’, a spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry was quoted.
In an embarrassing controversy, it’s revealed that the Indian Meteorological Department has so far been collecting data on meteors and not on the weather patterns. ‘How would we know that as a Meteorological unit, we are supposed to keep tabs on monsoons and stuff and not on meteors?’ the IMD chief tells a press conference.
In a shocking turn of events in the television industry, a contestant in one of the reality shows is actually eliminated in a competitive round. Participants are otherwise allowed to perform till eternity or their death (depending upon which comes first).
In an important international development, some country goes to polls and someone gets elected.
The government decides to re-nominate the Vice president. ‘We are too busy and can’t find out who the existing Vice President is. But whoever he is, he stands re-nominated,’ said a crisp and statesmanlike communiqué from the Prime Minister’s office.
The IPL Final throws up a huge surprise. Shahrukh Khan, who is known to make a silly ass of himself on screen, astounds everybody by making himself more silly in public.
(Due to space constraints we have split the year-end compilation into two. The second half will appear next week)
(Next week: The rest of the year covering the fight to quell the inflation, the capers of Markhandaya Katju, the continuing Mallya saga, the Olympic dreams, Kamal and Kamal and Kamal. The Presidential election with a surprise. And the surprise of surprises, whether you’re alive or not).