As a 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 2012 indeed will be the last one. Because, more than anything else, these year-enders are a huge pain.
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 world cheerfully awakens to the unique calendrical event 1-1-11, a rare and interesting chronological phenomenon that will not be experienced in this universe for the next 10 days, till 11-1-11 happens. There will be many more such ‘rare and unique’ stuff all through the year, which provide fodder for roughly 27% of the total annual smses and FB status messages.
On the fiscal front, faced with the rising prices of essential commodities, Pranab Mukherjee, taking the lead as the man in charge of the country’s finances, comes up with a radical statement to help combat inflation. ‘The current levels of inflation are totally unacceptable’, is what he says. No Finance Minister before him had taken such a courageous and intelligent line. Little wonder why he is rated so highly by the media in New Delhi.
On the cricket field, a major scandal erupts as a Test match involving Pakistan ends without any controversy or scandal. With Pakistan caught in a fresh turmoil, the South African and the English cricket boards announce that they would put on freeze all the pull-outs they had planned out of the tours to Pakistan they had not intended to take.
Elsewhere, buffeted by the continuing charges of corruption and more scandals, the PMO produced the biggest and the most unimpeachable evidence to establish the Prime Minister’s honesty and integrity —- an affidavit from a Notary Public in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said ‘at least now the Opposition should shut up. There is no bigger document in India than the Notary Public’s affidavit. People have been using it to prove very many things, including the spelling of their names.’
It’s the election year in Tamil Nadu, and the ruling DMK government offers a free (Tamil) New Year, effective from mid-January
An RTI query on the money spent during the previous year’s Commonwealth Games throws up an expenditure of Rs. 786 crore ‘for building a tourist attraction during the Games’. Asked for proof, Suresh Kalmdi provides the pictorial evidence of Qutab Minar.
In a bravura show of sharp financial acumen, Pranab Mukherjee declares, outside Parliament, that ‘the inflation levels are worrisome’.
In a research finding of far-reaching importance, scientists at a Swiss University conclusively prove that global warming has retrospective effect. ‘This alone explains why many people from the past are dead today,’ said the researchers.
The Central government, based on a recommendation from the DMK, confers the classical dress status on pattapatti underwear.
America launched nuclear strikes on India.
The Chinese made incursions beyond Arunachal Pradesh, and captured States right up to Kerala.
Rajnikanth became a Pakistani citizen.
The rupee dipped to Rs.276 against the Zimbabwean dollar.
Cabinet meetings were held at gay bars.
Rakhi Sawant was beatified by the Pope.
Suhel Seth combed his hair.
‘Power Star’ Srinivasan swept the Oscars and the Golden Globes.
Who knows, these things may well have happened. But as a nation we still don’t know what else other than cricket transpired during the month of March. When we actually become aware of them, some nasty surprises await us.
India wins the World Cup, a nation of over billion celebrates, except Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Sunil Valson and Yashpal Sharma, as they lose their only chance to be called as experts on TV to discuss World Cup finals any more. That mantle is now in the safe hands of Piyush Chawla.
‘The government is not an autonomous body,’ declares the BCCI, as it slaps notice on the Finance Ministry for collecting taxes during the World Cup. ‘It’s a clear contravention of the ambush marketing rules that preclude anybody other than the BCCI from making money,’ the notice said.
Songs from the music maestro A R Rahman’s film are declared a massive hit. ‘Some of his numbers take time to grow on you. This seems to have taken a touch longer,’ said his fan. For the record, the film is Parasuram that was released 16 years ago.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gets a major shot in the arm after a chowkidar in Connaught Place declares him to be a ‘man of high morals’, while Pranab Mukherjee brilliantly points out, at a FICCI conclave, that inflation rates are reaching alarming levels.
The nation realises it has a Vice-President. But nobody knows why.
Union Minister of Chemicals M K Alagiri goes into a sulk after the Central government reportedly scotches his ambitious plan to set up a modern port in his home constituency Madurai and a beautiful beach as an added attraction at the hill station of Kodaikanal. Undeterred by the slight to his son, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi announces free beach for every household as a poll sop.
Elections in Tamil Nadu are held, and considering the fact that this is a State of high literacy and well informed voters, the main poll issue, not surprisingly, is: Vijayakanth’s alleged drinking habits.
The Meteorological department predicts a normal monsoon based on the scientific evidence that Maniratnam is not scheduled to make any movies this year.
Chennai Super Kings wins the World Cup that really matters.
Dreaded international terrorist Osama bin Laden is killed in Pakistan. Islamabad refuses to comment, saying ‘it is strictly an internal matter of America’. Pakistan government, however, asserts that it would continue to extend its full support to the war on terror by continuing to search for Osama bin Laden.
A stadium built for the Commonwealth Games is reported missing.
Pranab Mukherjee, the financial wizard that he is, acutely explains to the ASSOCHAM members that as the Finance Minister he cannot but be concerned about the inflation levels.
Internet major unveils Google Plus, an evolved social media platform aimed at the high-end cats to find their photos on.
Indian cricket fans — each one of them —- come down with amnesia as the national team begins the tour of England, and nobody now remembers what transpired there.
With the economy on the brink, an austerity drive is set in motion. Sonia Gandhi sets a personal example by ordering to a close all the needless expenditure that was being incurred in pursuing the Bofors case.
The 2G scam and related muck hits the ceiling. A fully operational railway station and a couple of mountain ranges are unearthed from the house of Maran brothers.
The BCCI shoots down the use of Hawkeye to adjudicate close decisions. A BCCI official was quoted as saying: ‘It’s an old technology. We used it in the 1987 edition of the World Cup itself. Doordarshan employed Hawkeye, the technology that tracked the trajectory of the ball, all through its telecasts, as viewers got to sense only the general direction of the ball, and never the ball itself.’
At a conference of international chartered accountants, the master economist Pranab Mukherjee, points out with rare perspicacity that the high inflation rates are a direct fall out of the rising prices, which are inevitable when products cost more.
(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 2G fun, the Lokpal, Markhandaya Katju, UB group, Dhanush’s Kolaveri, and, of course, the brilliant ways by which Pranab Mukherjee is quelling the inflation. And a cameo from Kamal)