The year 2015, momentous as it was, is difficult to slot as there was no one single abiding emotion to it. In that it is quite unlike 2014, which we were quite happy that it actually ended.
Anyway, for India, 2015 may perhaps go down in history as the one in which the mainstream media, despite being insolently cold-shouldered by the Modi government, robustly came of age by reporting news events in a spirit of public service, unmindful of the incidental fact that many of them (events) did not even take place. But our brave media even as they offered apologies for their errors, were never hesitant or afraid to commit newer and newer mistakes.
It was also the year when the mainstream media, understanding the power of emerging technologies and the social media platforms that come riding on them, started paying full attention to them, and arguably very little attention to everything else happening elsewhere.
But 2015 was also the year of moral indignation of the common man against the rising intolerance in the society under Modi’s Prime Ministership. Taking a bold stand and strongly conveying their displeasure over the state of affairs, many intellectuals returned their coveted awards to the government. Their indomitable spirit was best exemplified by the spunk of film director Dibakar Bannerjee who spectacularly sent back the prestigious national award, unmindful of the small and irrelevant detail that he has never won any as a film director. But his courage and commitment to the larger cause did not go unnoticed by the ever vigilant media.
On the other hand, actor Anupam Kher, who has no love lost for those crying hoarse over intolerance, led a march protesting the protestors, saying that ‘no one has any right to say that the other is intolerant’, which if it were a joke would be considered too inane even by the makers of Humshakals, a film which whenever it is on the TV has the neighbourhood dogs barking uncontrollably.
In news totally from abroad, there was: Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Seriously, he was out of the country so many times that there is a serious consideration to celebrate his return to the country as Pravasi Divas.
Of course, there were Bihar election and the even more important Nadigar Sangam election in TN, goof ups by the infantile Rahul Gandhi that were so many that they cried for medium scale industry status, growing menace of IS world over and Suhel Seth in TV studios, net neutrality debate, rising prices of pulses, veggies, never-ending drama of Rajdeep Sardesai and the AKs (Arvind Kejriwal, Aamir Khan, Anupham Kher), the BCCI, startup culture, some MPs of the BJP whose name we don’t recall but they manfully rose to the occasion many times to be totally insufferable…all of which if we are going to discuss in this ‘intro’ itself we will have nothing left to present in the compendium of events of the year, which, despite the rising global warming crisis, still began with…
The New Year arrives with the Central Government taking the momentous decision to replace the all-powerful Planning Commission with Niti Ayog, which in the memorable words of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley ‘will bring to the table a totally new table and a whole set of fresh stationery’. Planning Commission was staid and uninspiring, whereas Niti Ayog, everyone concurs, sounds like the name of a Hindi actress doing duty in Tamil films.
Staying with matters of finance, Narendra Modi has a meeting with the RBI Governor. The PM minces no words and says that the inflation has grown so big that he could take a selfie with it.
The guest of honour at the Republic Day parade is the US President Barack Obama, and the talk of the town is the personal bond between him and Narendra Modi. Post the parade, the duo, in the true spirit of friendship, take a stroll near the India Gate and tuck into the famed Delhi Gol Gappe that Obama describes as ‘the best he has had in his life’. He also says that it is his first ever taste of Gol Gappe. The next day The Indian Express has a front-page expose of Modi and Obama ‘possibly forgetting’ to pay the Gol Gappe shopkeeper, who is identified as one Javed Ahmed.
In the continuing turmoil in the Muslim world, the President of Yemen resigns, pushing the rest of the countries to realise for the first time that Yemen has had a President all along. ‘We were of the impression that the country was being run on the lines of MLM scheme,’ a NATO spokesperson said.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, in an interaction with the spelling bee champions of Indian origin in the USA, encourages them to be not merely content with spelling words but also rise to the level of using them in meaningful sentences.
In developments relating to cricket, the President of the BCCI, N Srinivasan, is under the cosh again as one more instance of conflict of interest involving him comes to light. ‘His initial and the last letter of his name are the same,’ the Supreme Court points out in a sealed envelope to the media.
In a major blow to the BJP, it is beaten hollow by the AAP in the high-profile Delhi elections, but the moment is marred by the bad blood between the Lieutenant Governor and Arvind Kejriwal, when minutes after the swearing-in, the new Chief Minister and his team are handed the bill for the tea and other refreshments they were served at the function. Arvind Kejriwal sits in dharna that his expense account credit card was still to be released by the Central government. Shanthi Bhushan files an PIL on behalf of the tea-supplier.
This being the budget month all eyes are on the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who, in a major attempt to curb the rising fiscal deficit, boldly states in his budget speech that ‘the rising fiscal deficit needs to be curbed’. The stock market reacts positively to his announcement by moving from Celsius to Fahrenheit degrees.
Ahead of the cricket World Cup in Australia, the media is replete with cricket stories. But news channel, NDTV, gets it right as usual. Using the experts that it would later employ to compute Bihar election, it comes up with what experts believe to be the correct prediction for the tournament : ‘Canada will win in straight sets’.
Rahul Gandhi travels to Adivasi huts in the forest region of Chattisgarh and convivially chats with them in Punjabi. Later it turns out that in a miscommunication, his aides had apparently told him that he was visiting Chandigarh.
Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France sign a crucial deal to solve the crisis in East Ukraine. But the deal lasts for around, according to an AFP report, ‘37 minutes’, whereupon Russia and Ukraine begin to exchange fire over ‘why the heck were France and Germany part of the deal?’
The Indian Navy unveils its fighter-class nuclear-missile-fitted submarine in an austere function at the New Delhi’s Talkatora Indoor Swimming Pool.
A reigning Bollywood star says something contentious and provocative just ahead of his film’s release, but the larger public, especially those in social media, wisely ignore it as something that was said for easy publicity. The Bollywood star too understands the folly of his method and makes a dignified apology and everyone stays focused on their work.
In a rousing speech through his Mann ki Baat programme on Radio, Narendra Modi poignantly recalls his early days when he, born in an indigent family, could not afford to take even a single selfie.
The Supreme Court, in a welcome verdict, declares Section 66A of the IT Act as unconstitutional on the commonsense grounds that when the Indian Constitution was written there was no IT industry at all.
Bharat Ratna is conferred on Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of Banaras Hindu University, which is, as far as we know, well known for having been founded by Madan Mohan Malviya.
A NASA study, based on a high definition satellite photograph from a very distant planet, says only two physical phenomenons on the Earth are visible from that distance: 1. The Great Wall of China 2. Rajdeep Sardesai hard-selling his book on the social media.
Staying with the media, NDTV, falling back on the expertise of its Bihar election specialists, predicts with precision that Christmas will fall on November 13 this year.
Rahul Gandhi, according to reports, is spotted in Columbia. Upon his return, when asked whether he had been to that country, a candid Rahul replies, ‘yeah, to attend the Oscar awards function’.
In cricket, N Srinivasan is unseated as the BCCI president and, in a compromise, Raj Singh Dungarpur is appointed to the post. ‘He may be dead. But in the circumstances, he is the only agreeable candidate to both the camps,’ said a source close to the developments inside the cricket board.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, inaugurating an ancient science conference, sagaciously explains that ‘technology was very evolved in Bharath (India) several centuries ago itself, and ‘it was possible for a man to click a selfie of himself clicking a selfie of himself’.
Andhra Pradesh’s new capital city, which is to come up near Vijayawada, is named Amaravati, and till the time it gets readied, the State Assembly announces through unanimous resolution, ‘the capital would be a life-like replica set of it at the Ramoji Rao Film City’.
Rahul Gandhi, in a feisty press conference, comes up with documentary evidence to prove that ‘Herald is a brand of car’, and that his family had nothing to do with it. ‘If anything, we own a couple of BMWs and Audis’.
Cataclysmic earthquake rocks the Himalayan country of Nepal causing ruins to centuries-old medieval structures that were all along great tourist attractions as ‘historic ruins’.
In a precursor to what is to later follow in the year, the ace television channel NDTV scoops the news — thanks to the indefatigable efforts of its Bihar election specialists —- Indrani Mukherjee and Sheena Bora were not relatives and had actually first met during a ‘Tupperware sales agents convention’.
At the World Cup in Australia, the talking point of the tournament is many IPL players turning up their club colours), which they justified on the grounds ‘the IPL is scheduled so close to the World Cup that there will be no time to even change the outfits’.
The Modi government completes a momentous one year in office and to mark the occasion, the Prime Minister launches a nationwide scheme to give ‘50 GB free space for the poor to store their selfies’. By 2020, our target for every individual is, the Prime Minister says, ‘100 GB, selfies, facebook profile, instagram account and similar essential items for all to lead a decent life’.
Akash missile is inducted into the Indian Army. But in Parliament, it triggers a heated debate. ‘If it is so good, why don’t you induct it into the Union Cabinet?’ asks Rahul Gandhi on the floor of Lok Sabha amidst clapping of desks and tears of happiness from his mother Sonia Gandhi.
There is exciting news from the startup market, an IIT-IIM pass out in Bengaluru, gets a funding of 10 million dollars from a top VC firm, for his path-breaking app that will source and supply specialized diet to martial arts champions. The killer app’s killer name is: Food KungFuPanda.
In an exciting IPL tournament, which seasoned cricket watchers accept as ‘probably the best in the last ten months’, a team other than the Delhi Daredevils wins. NDTV, using high-end statistics and inputs from Bihar election aces, conclusively proves that Chicago Bulls is the winner of the IPL.
Actor Kamal Haasan’s Uttama Villain is scheduled to hit the screens, but on the appointed day and time the actual film doesn’t make it to the theatres. But after waiting for two hours inside the theatre, the audience emerge out saying, ‘we didn’t realize the film hadn’t made it to the theatres. We thought this was one of Kamal’s typical novelties, a scene-less film’.
Fresh economic crisis breaks out in Greece, where the government runs out of money to buy paper to print money. ‘We are planning to fully evolve towards a credit card-based society,’ its Finance Minister says.
A horrid heat wave sets in, and hundreds perish across countries, and world leaders understanding that the ‘world is at the cusp of a global crisis’ agree that they no longer can afford to let things drift and reach the much-needed consensus to, quote, ‘meet at a cool place with a decent bar’.
Keeping in line with the great tradition that it enjoys in the field of education, the Tamil Nadu government announces an attractive deposit scheme for school students who can ‘carry forward the centum scores they get in lower classes till higher secondary’.
Thanks to the efforts of the Modi government, the world decides to observe June 21 as the World Yoga Day and the Prime Minister leads the nation in a yoga exercise show where he performs, among others, Adho Mukha Adho Mukha Śvānāsana, the difficult and ancient posture of taking a selfie while on all fours.
All India Medical Entrance Exam is held, but the results are withheld and the exams are deemed null and void on account of question paper leak. Rahul Gandhi, in a signed statement, appeals to the government that it should, keeping in mind the welfare of the student community, ‘ask the same question in the fresh exams too.’
Tamil Nadu becomes the first State in the country to become ‘meme surplus’.
Apropos the Salman Khan hit and run case, ‘the tyre marks at the accident site suggest that out of the four one seems to be a flat tyre, which doubtlessly even more suggest that Salman Khna might have been driving an auto at the moment of the accident,’ an NDTV investigation helmed by its crack panel of Bihar election experts proves.
Down South, in entertainment news, Rajnikanth is on the verge of signing a new film. A sum total of 378 stories appear in news publications on the possible story of the film. Which is quite surprising, especially when there is even more speculation still as to what exactly was the story of his previous film Lingaa.
IS terrorists release a video of captured US scribes being cruelly tortured by being repeatedly asked their views on the Beep Song that was still to be leaked on the internet.
(The second part of this column will appear next week)