The year gone by was so eventful that I instinctively waited for the last day to pass and then another before venturing to write about it.
I’d say I’m rewarded for holding patience a tad bit longer for otherwise I could have missed mentioning the historic landslide win of the Awami League alliance in neighboring Bangladesh, and the sad demise of Premjit Lal, a 60s tennis icon of the country on the last day of the year.
2008 has been a year of tumult like never before. It has also been a year of cheer like never before. Here is a small account of both.
Rarely had the year progressed into the tenth day that we saw the benchmark BSE Sensex breaching the never before 21000 mark. Alas, none could foresee then that the same index would nosedive by more than 50% in the last quarter of the same year.
The story of economic meltdown in the US that was going on since early 2007 finally became a reality around mid-2008 causing an unprecedented misery all over the world. Several US financial giants sank without trace, and rightfully so, sucking in money like night without end in the process.
India, akin to virtually all ‘globally connected’ countries, felt the heat, and suddenly all that seemed rosy awhile back started paling fast.
Luckily the pall of gloom that soon descended has thus far remained confined within the torch-bearers of ‘shining India’, and not to the relief of the government extended downward.
Of course the sharply declining inflation rate on the back of equally – if not more – fast declining oil price helped. The latter looks like a skeleton of its very recent past, having tanked at $147.27 a barrel on July 11 to hit the nadir at $35 a barrel on December 24.
Despite whatever the experts now say the movement of oil price has completely baffled them, and perhaps very few would risk making predictions for 2009.
India meanwhile made the nuclear agreement with the US a reality at the cost of one crore rupees that lay scattered at the central hall of the parliament, marking an ending happy yet mixed with a bizarre twist of shady doings.
If you are a person who likes sports, the Beijing Olympics would have come as a real stunner.
Notwithstanding the impossibly elegant opening and closing ceremonies, the 2008 Olympics would forever remain etched in the memory because of superlative performance by Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.
Beijing Olympics has been lucky for India for having got its first ever individual gold medal through the shooter Abhinav Bindra. I say ‘lucky’ for who knows how many more Olympics should the country wait before seeing its next individual gold medal coming.
I won’t do myself a favor if I don’t mention the AFC Challenge Cup win by India in August after 24 years. What does this win mean?
It allows India to play in the Asian Cup in Doha 2011, the winner of which will compete with the best of football playing nations at FIFA Confederations Cup.
October is the month when Nano finally moved away from Bengal to Gujarat thus firmly burying the nascent hope of industrial revival in the state. The onus for denying the state a great potential lies not only on the main opposition party but partly on the ruling party as well.
It’s a painful pity that the world’s smallest car that could have rolled out from Singur will now be made elsewhere.
October also saw stock prices falling like ninepins the world over even as the currencies traded at alarming levels against the dollar and euro.
However in the midst of turmoil, a history was in the making as the US elected Barack Obama as their first black president who will take charge on Jan 20.
He will have his hands full with serious issues to deal on after he moves into the White House, though many are of the opinion that the worst is perhaps over.
The year of tumult that it was, was it any surprise that even the last months would land a nasty blow on India’s face that nobody imagined!
The terrorists’ raids on Mumbai on Nov 26 were the worst sufferings of the kind the country has been facing for long that emanated from Pakistan.
It won’t be wrong to say that Pakistan is a failed state which no one quite knows who runs. Yet the country is a strategic ally of both China and the US, the 2 largest powers in the world.
If the past is any lesson it would perhaps be a folly to assume that the outrage after the Nov 26 happenings would stop any future attack on the nation.
But just as countries like Israel, the US, the UK and others have the highest grade of intelligence network to make them virtually impenetrable for the terrorists India must also put in place similar armor to safeguard its interests.
2009 may be quite different from its predecessor so far upheavals are concerned. Going by some of the present indications let me guess a few of the likely happenings in the new year:
- Come what may, the ban on poisonous smoke emitting 2-stroke autos in Kolkata, the last remaining bastion of these pollutants among Indian metros, will slowly but surely take effect like the ban on book fair in the Maidan.
This I forecast only because like elsewhere the people of Kolkata too want a better life to live. But then it is pretty dicey to predict anything good with Bengal’s political parties.
The Bengal government will find the reasons behind so many incidents of tigers straying away from the jungles into human habitation, and more importantly take steps to make the Sunderbans a restrictive yet popular place for tourists.
- While Saina Nehwal will go from strength to strength doing the country proud in badminton, her Hyderabadi name-alike Sania Mirza will perhaps follow the enchanting ways of Anna Kournikova and land up as a hot thing in Bollywood.
- As the Sri Lankan army captures Killinnochi, the erstwhile capital of LTTE at the time of this writing, it’s more certain than ever that peace will ultimately return to the island state.
- And going by what Sheikh Hasina has been saying since her historic win early this week, and in view of the end of Maoists’ struggle in Nepal, who knows the South Asia will after a long, long time see real peace reigning…till maybe the next round.
With those hopes and beliefs I wish all my readers a very happy and prosperous 2009.