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Wish we could reverse the year-I and II

When you look back on 2016, you have to agree that in the overall scheme of things that it was a pretty decent year.

No, just pause. As I type this, there is a new press release from the Reserve Bank of India saying that the year 2016 may actually be bad and things aren’t as good as they look.

Ho, ho, ho. I think we need to pause again. For, here we have another notification from the RBI that the year was absolutely fantastic and the RBI is reversing its previous press release which itself was a cancellation of its own order issued a few hours ago, which could have been issued to overturn another RBI notification, and all things considered, the year 2016 was…

Heck. We just are not sure of anything anymore. We have no clue what sort of year 2016 was. We may not be even sure whether it was the year 2016 we are discussing. But what we are sure is that the forces that got down to executing the demonetisation scheme should not be allowed any where near any other work, even if it is just opening the fridge, and they should be dropped in some random island from where they can escape only if they can recite, exactly till the last decimal point, the cube root of their sixteen-digit debit card number.

Aside from the demonetisation demon, what was the year 2016 like? ‘America elects Donald Trump as its President’. What was stuff of spoof news last year came chillingly true in 2016. How he got elected will forever remain a mystery, except that it is factual to think that the same force that gobbled up a Malaysian Airline flight two years ago was at it again.

Talking of America, it was that kind of year where people there couldn’t differentiate between real and fake news. Ha. Ha. Ha. Here in India we don’t get this confusion at all because we don’t read news at all. We follow only memes.

Back in India, attacks in Pathankot, Uri and some other places in Kashmir by Pak and its non-State actors confirmed two things for sure: 1. Those who want India to go to war with Pak are totally wrong. 2. Those who want India to talk it out with Pak are even more wrong. And the solution for India — we have all done this in the face of persistently problematic neighbours — is to shift to some other place where there is probably no Pakistan, like near Canada.

In politics, Arvind Kejriwal, who hitherto was the Chief Minister of Delhi, also manfully shouldered the extra responsibility of — it would be great if all other Chief Ministers emulated him — CAT on T, (Delhi and Punjab). CAT, of course, is Chief Angry Troll on Twitter.

Like Kejri, Mamata Bannerjee too was feisty and fierce, and she stood up for the rights of West Bengal, especially for that large part of West Bengal in Tamil Nadu as she stoutly came to the defence of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary whose properties were raided by the Income Tax department.

In cricket, India had a phenomenal year, walking away with many top ICC honours, including the ICC Deadbat Player of the Year, for stonewalling everything thrown at him and for being a complete package of shame, to Anurag Thakur, the BCCI chief. By the end of the year, he was making us wistful for N Srinivasan. And that sure takes some doing.

India let slip Vijay Mallaya early this year, but thanks to the use of high-end technology and modern-day sleuthing, there was a major breakthrough by late this year as his twitter account could be breached. It is only a matter of time before his Facebook account is also frozen.

This was the Olympic year, and just as every one was wondering whether anybody can outshadow Michael Phelps’ five gold medals and one silver at Rio (career Olympic medal tally 28), a spunky American swimmer took up the challenge spiritedly with a sensational show and story (albeit far away from the pool) and by the end of which, people were wondering ‘Phelps who?’ Thanks a lot Ryan Lochte, but for you and your antics, Phelps would have been under enormous public pressure with all the needless focus on him.

We heard a lot less of Arundhati Roy, which was one of the good news about 2016, but it was offset by T M Krishna who refused get off our news pages.

But much as the whole year was troubled and turbulent, one man single-handedly kept us going, providing us fun and keeping us all entertained in every possible way. Thank you, Rahul Gandhi. Without you there wouldn’t have been any great laughs in 2016, which without any notification from the RBI, began in…

January

The nation wakes up to a beautiful New Year and celebrates its arrival in style, but the nation’s capital ushers in the New Year only three days later as because the pollution in Delhi is such that people cannot locate the calendar.

Not very far off from New Delhi, Punjab’s border town, Pathankot is under attack. Militants from Pakistan sneak into the highly fortified airbase and kill many soldiers. Nobody dared question the killing of soldiers in the border because how can they be insensitive at a time, well, when soldiers were getting shot in the border.

In a major scientific breakthrough, something that sets the tone for the rest of the year, RBI successfully clones the chromosomes of two separate thousand rupee notes to form one robust two thousand rupee note. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulates the scientists at the RBI for “making chromo’many’ from chromo’somes’.” Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu looks on approvingly at the amazing wordplay wondering why it didn’t occur to him in the first place.

Rahul Gandhi, in a televised speech from Batinda, Punjab, says it is staggering that India has still not sealed its borders with Pakistan. “Why can’t they use M-seal,?” he asks not unreasonably. He along with GhulamNabi Azad lead a symbolic march towards the border with M-seal in their hands and a placard that reads: “Seal the holes, save the nation”.

Down south, there is a huge furore over the continuing ban on Jallikattu, a sport of valour that defines the culture and tradition of the land admeasuring about a couple of acres. Jallikattu is a sport famous among brave youth who are unafraid to get drunk early in the morning.

In foreign news, Washington news corps, backed by years and years of experience in understanding political developments and people’s pulse, put out well-researched pieces on the impossibility staring at Donald Trump in becoming the US President. “Americans will not be fools to elect a fool. This is no third-world banana republic,” say one columnist after the other.

But fresh off the RBI mints arrive…

February

Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveils to a grateful nation a grand and holistic plan linking Aadhaar for using public toilets in villages across the country. ‘Jan Dump’ is the name of the scheme. Online news sites, like the troll.in and thetire.in, come up with impassioned pieces (titled: ‘Ifs and Butts’ and ‘Loo Behold, stinking govt peeps into bathrooms’) on how government’s move is an invasion of extreme privacy and argue that government is planning to sell Indians’ ‘bathroom info’ to foreign pharma companies who will make money out of it.

Elsewhere, at a public rally near Kanpur, UP, Rahul Gandhi says that the reality of the situation in the nation is, “people need an Aadhaar to get an Aadhaar”.

Meanwhile, the news from the financial markets is not so encouraging as both Sensex and Nifty, after days of frenzied trading, ends at a disturbing 34 degree Fahrenheit, something unprecedented in the month of January.

RBI announces a tie-up with Amazon for a novel scheme, Amazon ATM, where Indian rupees will be available in Kindle versions.

In sensational developments from the media, TimesNow releases latest figures for Arnab Goswami’s News Hour, and for the first time ever in the history of television news broadcasting in India the noise levels cross the sonic boom threshold.

In international news, delegates arriving for a global warming summit in Maldives find the island nation totally gone under surging sea waters. But scientists and leaders assuage the world that “Maldives getting totally submerged is not something to worry about and there was still time for the summit to be held in Mauritius”.

Staying abroad, in the middle-east, the refugee crisis worsens with reports of migratory birds from Syria being sighted at “Perth, Australia for months without end”.

But in an unexpected turn of events, RBI abruptly ends February to move to…

March

In a major embarrassment to the Narendra Modi government, the Chief Justice of India publicly cries over the delay in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and he gets an immediate wildcard entry to ‘India Has Got Talent’ show.

In Maharashtra, MNS cadre go on protest against Bollywood actors Rahul Dev and Mukesh Rishi for repeatedly playing the role of Pakistan terrorists in South Indian films. The MNS guys want all South Indian films banned for featuring roles of Pak terrorists.

In a related move, in the continuing drive against black money and counterfeit currency pushed in through terrorists, Modi government carries out raids at Rahul Dev and Mukesh Rishi houses and seize “fake counterfeit currency” worth crores and crores of rupees in hawala transactions in movie scenes.

In Tamil Nadu, the State election scene heats up with a no-holds-barred electrifying campaign featuring, primarily, Jayalalithaa reading practically the same speech at every meeting, Karunanidhi saying the same thing that he has been since the 1960s, and Vijayakanth speaking heaven knows what.

The Narendra Modi government, giving a fillip to the Make In India campaign, launches an app to help poor people to make their own apps. Aap ka app is what it is called.

Rahul Gandhi shrewdly pins the government down with the charge that this app, aimed for poor people,“is not at all compatible with landlines”.

In Europe, there is talk of Britain exiting the European Union. But again, seasoned experts in media, who have gauged public opinion precisely for years, say all this talk just rubbish. In America, journalists who opinionate on Trump nod in agreement.

RBI in a tersely worded communique announces the arrival of May, but what arrives is of course…

April

Taking suo motu cognisance of some AAP MLAs still remaining un-chargesheeted, the Supreme Court sends a notice to the Central government to explain, within five holidays, “the extreme anomaly”.

The RBI and the Finance Ministry in a swift overnight operation, bans the increasing and disturbing usage of ‘check’ for ‘cheque‘. The press release for the same said the move is “expected to fetch the government a savings of lakhs and crores in consonants”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to Hawaii and signs a historic trade agreement with it “for supplying over a million of plain off-white shirts to the island”, which has never seen such shirts in its entire history.

Indian railways comes up with some proposals to push private participation in its expansion drive. Rahul Gandhi, speaking at an election rally in Chennai, reminds the Tamil electorate that the privatisation of Indian Railways began under the Congress government in 2013 when it allowed Rohit Shetty to make Chennai Express.

Uber drivers across the country go on a strike and much of the traffic on twitter comes down.

Hackers target a couple of up and coming e-commerce networks and their apps, temporarily halting their operations and in the process stopping them from making losses in their usual manner.

In the US, it is increasingly clear that the Presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, though technically too close to call, is expected to be sewn up by Hillary, as one Washington political memorably put it, “based on the fact that she does not answer to the name Donald Trump”.

Meanwhile in India, it was time for the RBI to recall April and recalibrate the ATMs to dish out…

May

In the three months ending in May, a total of 3700 T20 matches is played in the Indian subcontinent and at the end of it, the IPL is won by Afghanistan while world T20 title is easily captured by Gujarat Lions and the Asian T20 championship is annexed by Chennaiyin FC.  Or some much as after such never-ending series of matches, nobody recalls anything.

In Britain Brexit referendum looms. Pollsters initially say that those in favour of exiting were winning. Pollsters later feel that those wanting Britain to stay within EU are holding sway. In the event, the mood in Britain is overwhelmingly clear that the pollsters, like everywhere else, are talking out of their posteriors. But to be fair to the pollsters, they are expected to get their predictions right soon after the actual results are out.

Staying with international news, world over right-wing politicians are making a resounding surge. In the elections in Austria, in a close-race for Presidential post, the incumbent retains his seat. However, a close second is Amit Shah.

In a last-minute inclusion, the main draw in the Rio Olympics is women’s beach Pokemon Go.

A startup in Bangalore gets 250 million dollars in VC funding for a smart business venture that makes home-heaters that work on low-cost technology of literally burning cash.

RBI installs an exclusive ATM in that company.

State election results are out. In most places, the Congress is wiped out. Rahul Gandhi says that he was looking at the positives, in that Congress were the winners in many exit polls.

In a bid to ease up the pressure on May, RBI introduces into the market…

June

Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to Finance Ministry a far-reaching proposal to tackle the galloping inflation. His suggestion is simple but most sensible: “Stop computing inflation”.

In a related development, the spunky Kolkata-based The Telegraph scoops the story that the Finance Ministry was all along not computing the inflation figures. “We were just doling out some random numbers, and nobody figured that out,” a Finance Ministry official was caught on camera saying.

In a continuing related development, online media organisation OpIndia comes up with a fitting rebuttal to The Telegraph report. OpIndia establishes with proof that not just inflation, all numbers that economists throw up are totally fabricated. This includes their age also. “This is the case from Adam Smith to Amartya Sen,” they corroborate with facts.

RBI sends a circular to all banks to spell ‘Thousand’ as ‘Thous&’ and says dictionaries will be recalibrated soon to accommodate the same.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accuses the Narendra Modi government of stalling the proposal to build a modern all-purpose beach at Connaught Place.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that when he was the Home Minister he had personally cleared a project for a separate ocean for Delhi.

Rahu Gandhi comes up with documents to prove Narendra Modi had a big ocean in his bathroom when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. A photoshopped picture of a bucket full of water with the caption reading, ‘Pacific Ocean’ is presented to the media.

Britain, as precisely predicted by all leading political journalists, votes to get out of the European Union. But wants the European Union to take care of Queen Elizabeth in her old age. EU convenes an emergency meeting and passes the following formal resolution against Britain: “Go, take a walk”.

BCCI’s accounts are frozen by an order from the Supreme Court. BCCI officials are hard pressed for money for every day expenses and its members are forced to, in the moving words of its secretary Ajay Shirke, ‘drink coffee at home as opposed to in some humble 5-star hotel”.

As time ticks by, RBI, in a bid to tackle the burgeoning days in the month of June, hastily announces the arrival of…

July

In a direct and probably the most daring operation ever on black money, Prime Minister orders the Indian Air Force to carry out sorties on cash hoarders and their lockers.

Rahul Gandhi says that he has enough documentary evidence to prove Narendra Modi government was planning to privatise Indian Air Force by “selling it to Sahara or Tata or any other company already involved in ship-building”.

In a much-needed thrust to digital economy, rupee notes in India to carry PayTM CEO’s signature.

In Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa opens AmmaUnavagamemes, a kiosk that will supply all latest memes to people living below the poverty line of not owning any smart phone.

Campaign in the Presidential elections gets unprecedently murky. Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton’s camp alleges that Republican nominee Donald Trump is a sexual predator and will sell the White House to Hugh Hefner so that it could be converted into as Play Boy mansion. Trump hits back at Hillary in a measured manner, saying: “*^&% off”. The events to follow establish Trump’s response in this case was height of politeness.

Media industry in India finds its revenue plummeting, and in a quick move to shore up funds, tickets the bout between Barkha Dutt and Arnab Goswami.

Carnatic vocalist T M Krishna gets the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award for his pioneering work in taking “classical music away from concert halls” so that people in concert halls can listen to something that is actually enjoyable.

In cricket, Lodha Committe slams BCCI President for conflict of interest, and points out the “Anurag Thakur” anagrams to “U hunt Agarkar”.

Staying with sports, ahead of the Olympics, there is confusion in the Indian camp over who to  nominate for the 74-kg wrestling bout. And the two pugnacious contenders are, of course, Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry.

In a mid-season development, RBI leaves the bank rates untouched but daringly tells the nationalised banks to move to…

August

Down South in India, Cauvery issue rocks Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. And the two State virtually go to war against each other. Karnataka tells that with the monsoon having failed in the State, it has no water to share with Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court, however, steps in smartly and orders Karnataka to give Tamil Nadu, at the minimum, 36,000 Kinley water bottles as a stopgap measure.

Up North, in a major social media push, understandably at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra ‘no-nonsense’ Modi, the PMO gets a Snapchat account. The PMO press release says: “The idea is to reach out to the ‘modern young set’ and ‘speak their lingo’ and make available on Snapchat PM’s Mann Ki Baat programme”.

Keeping his guns trained on the NDA government Rahul Gandhi asks why just Jan Dhan. “What about other months? Why not Feb Dhan, Mar Dhan, Apr Dhan and so on covering all the 14 months in the calendar,” he says at a public meet in Dhanbad.

The horror film fixation in Tamil Nadu gets out of hand. A six-theatre multiplex comes up at Kannamapettai graveyard.

It is a happening period in the world of sports with the Rio Olympics getting off to a spectacular start and amidst all the stars like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, an unheralded judoka from Nigeria steals the thunder and becomes the first ever sportsperson in the entire universe to get his Olympic medal from Nita Ambani, who was nominated by Indian Olympic Association for what seems like her Olympic record in the use of botox.

In depressing developments in Kashmir, Barkha Dutt goes there.

In UP, pro-wrestling league gets underway in spectacular fashion and the inaugural edition features solely the family members of Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Appalled by its undeniable obscenity, the Censor Board orders several cuts to Udta Punjab’s hero Shahid Kapoor’s hairstyle.

Talking of cuts, RBI cuts whatever remains of August, which means it is…

September

Unable to tolerate the constant sniping and terrorist attacks from Pakistan, in what is seen as a first of its kind response from New Delhi, Narendra Modi government orders surgical strikes, wherein Indian troops are airdropped into Pakistan territory “with the explicit purpose of catching Pokemon Go characters”.

Rahul Gandhi and his Congress party, setting aside political differences, agree to the nation that Pokemon Go is indeed an addictive game.

International consumer electronics giant Samsung recalls a particular series of mobile phones after they, when you press the home screen button, accidentally launch nuclear strikes on Syria.

Popular newsperson Arnab Goswami announces his decision to quit his news channel, and his news show, News Hour, the most hated programme in India that everyone, including Arnab’s rivals in the media field, watched, will no longer be the same again. Its TRP rating is expected to come down by several decibel points.

Nobel prize for Literature goes to Bob Dylan and he thanks the Nobel committee with the eloquent words on his door that only poets like him can come up with: “Do not disturb”.

Chennai Metro’s second phase, leading up to Chennai airport, is opened for public. Thanks to this much-needed connection to the airport, now glass panes in the Metro station will also start breaking.

In a late-night emergency development, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is hospitalised. “Nothing to worry. She is in the pink of health. She is just being treated to ascertain how a person could be so healthy,” the hospital’s medical bulletin says.

The officials part of the Indian Olympic contingent return from Rio at the end of a tiring and energy-sapping six months of Rio Olympics.

In global news, peace process in troubled Syria gets a much-needed boost with…never mind, before the sentence could be completed, firing between whoever is fighting there erupts again.

RBI replaces Raghuram Rajan with — this one has complete public support — a full-functional ATM.

Staying with RBI, it announces that monsoon this year is deficit by 37%. But before any one can point that RBI can not take over the work of the Weather Bureau, arrives…

October

The Supreme Court, in a much-needed order, tells cinema halls to have a guard of honour, conduct full-fledged military parade, present medals to meritorious military and police personnel, and telecast President’s address to the nation before every film screening. The nation’s collective heart swells with patriotic pride.

In hospital news, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa continues to be healthy and her medical bulletin says that she is being monitored for global warming and El Nino effect.

Prime Minister Narenda Modi kicks off a programme to introduce modern-technology to farmers. He presents to them state-of-the-art selfie sticks.

At a Kissan rally, Rahul Gandhi confesses that he honestly prefers Heinz.

India formally adopts Kenya’s currency. RBI issues a press release saying that it is proactively taking the decision based on the fact that its new Governor Urjit Patel is Kenyan born.

Thanks to the intervention of Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, India announces air-lifting of all its citizens in foreign countries injured in Samsung Note-7 firing.

In other technology news, Apple unveils a new phone, with typical enhanced features including a hands-free, wireless feature that will, on its own, place the order for the next version of i-phone as and when it hits the market.

In Harry Potter news, a new book in the series is out, okay not exactly a new book but a screenplay, okay not exactly written by J K Rowling but somebody else, hits the market. It is named: Harry Potter and People Will Buy This Because It Has Harry Potter In The Title.

In America, Republican nominee Donald Trump assures the nation that he, if he becomes the President, will not announce nuclear strikes on his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton.

In further news, incriminating emails reveal Hillary Clinton to have used personal and private weather satellites.

Meanwhile, in India, The Supreme Court orders the RBI to announce the arrival of…

November

The most dramatic and sensational fight on black money is unveiled to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Black money is generated because,” he tells the nation in a televised address, “there is money. To tackle the supply of black money we have to tackle the supply of money” and then proceeds to ban the use of the word ‘black’.

A RBI notification follows that it was withdrawing the word ‘black’ from all dictionaries. People who have used the word ‘black’ before are given time till Dec 30 tell their bank managers under what circumstances they had used the said word.

ATM kiosks, in what seems like a temporary technical glitch, are filled with Coca-cola vending machines.

To highlight the plight of the common public, Rahul Gandhi stands in an ATM queue to collect his monthly salary. Before he could collect his money, much to his disappointment, he is told by the bank staff that the media camerapersons have all left.

For the first time in world history, every time some Indian issued a cheque, the bank bounced.

An Axis Bank branch in Delhi’s Karol Bagh places RBI under the NPA list.

In West Bengal, the irrepressible Mamata Bannerjee accuses the Modi government of trying to impose military rule in her State and smartly comes up with the proof for her allegations through ‘verified’ pictures of an NCC parade at La Martiniere School, Kolkata.

The judicial process in the country gets a techno fillip with the introduction of e-courts in Hyderabad. The first ever verdict in it is — undeniably a landmark order — still loading.

The officials team for the 2020 Olympics sets out to Tokyo.

The American elections throws up a stunner. Despite repeated warnings about inherent dangers, the public go ahead and elect, exactly, Samsung Note-7.

Some musical celebrity died. Social media platforms are agog with users unable to comprehend a future without the said celebrity for the next thirty odd minutes.

The Cyrus Mistry and Ratan Tata feud gets messier and messier. Accusations fly thick and fast from each other. It is no-holds-barred. Suddenly some of us become wistful for Trump and Hillary fight. At least they were rivals. Mistry and Tata were actual colleagues.

The Hindi film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil runs into problems over the casting of a Pakistan actor in it. The MNS party in Maharashtra throws a huge fit. Luckily the State government steps in and works out a sensible plan for giving the satellite rights for the film to MNS.

Before the RBI could have any more rethink on whatever it might have or might not have been thinking, luckily arrives, for one last time this year, a new month in…

December

It is mostly news from economy and finance:

Digital economy comes of age in the country. It starts watching porn.

RBI issues guidelines to banks to charge rent for people standing in ATM queues for more than two hours.

RBI has a notification saying people standing in ATM queues will be taxed.

Finance Ministry issues ordinance that people hoarding more than ten old newspapers (which would fetch money at the waste paper mart) would be liable for prosecution under the I-T Act.

Thanks to the action on black money and counterfeit currency, terror operations are hit. Finance Ministry releases files in which both LeT and JeM have formally filed for bankruptcy.

In a swift action, Delhi police raid an Axis Bank branch in Barakhamba Road and seize several RBI officials secretly hoarded there.

IT officials in Chennai swoop down in on the premises of a high-profile PWD contractor who is reportedly close to several Ministers and top bureaucrats in the State, and seize incriminating several documents, including Google Maps to the nearest working ATMs.

Rahul Gandhi says he has enough evidence with him to establish what the abbreviation RBI stands for.

Following more complaints of fire, Samsung recalls the new Indian Rs.2000 rupee note.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa passes away. The hospital issues a medical bulletin identifying the cause of her death: Vardah cyclone.

DMK chief M Karunanidhi is hospitalized. The medical bulletin is a: selfie.

Vaiko’s MDMK walks out of an alliance group in which it was the sole member.

Actors couple Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor have a baby boy and give him a him a controversial name. But since the naming a child is the prerogative of the parents, most Twitter users react to the news reasonably and move on to other issues of real importance to give their opinions on.

Hackers group strike. Rahul Gandhi’s personal computer is targeted. And out to the world is revealed: He is still using Internet Explorer and is still on Windows 3.1 edition.

Hackers also attack Barkha Dutt’s computer and find as screensaver: A pin-stuffed voodoo doll of Arnab Goswami.

As a culmination to the year, Narendra Modi addresses the nation and announces to the grateful public that from Jan 1, 2017 all ATMs in the country will be recalibrated and upgraded to — rim shot— play Mann Ki Baat programme,

Happy New Year, folks!


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