2012 was not a good year for the Indian economy – as shown most obviously in the slowdown in output growth, worsening current account balance and declining interest of global finance in the country as destination.
It was a bad year for the Government of India, when various crimes of omission and commission of the past came home to roost. It was embarrassed by the exposure of numerous financial scams and scandals, as well as growing evidence of its lack of basic administrative capacity and inability to deal with criticisms and protest.
It was also the year when the image of resurgent India so enthusiastically promoted by the government was definitively tarnished.
The country that had been boasting about "taking its rightful place on the world stage" was made to see how flawed and inadequate its own development trajectory had been, whether in the crony capitalist transfers that characterised the boom years or the continuing inadequacy of basic amenities like power or the absence of decent and productive employment generation for most of the work force.
All this may be bad enough. But for the people of India, 2012 was probably an even worse year, truly an annus horribilis.
For most citizens, the fundamental concerns of food security, adequate health services and decent work conditions were still nowhere near being met, and for many, conditions in these areas deteriorated further as the prices of necessities kept on rising.
The economic slowdown (particularly in export sectors) affected employment. Growing economic inequalities generated social tensions that expressed themselves not only in more and more public protests but also in all sorts of other more unpleasant ways that also intertwined with various social forms of oppression and discrimination.
Most of all, basic physical security was increasingly threatened – particularly for half of the population, women and girls as there was a significant increase in violence against women. The last week of the year was possibly the most depressing of all in this context, as the country had to come to terms with more news of acts of unspeakable violence against women and girls, culminating in the suicide of a young woman who had been humiliated by police persecution after a gang rape and the death of another from injuries inflicted during another violent gang rape in the nation's capital.
In all, a year whose passing can only be welcomed, particularly if the new year brings with it different and more positive trends. But can better news be expected in 2013?
Image: Pulling in different directions? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi.
Text: Jayati Ghosh
AP and AFP Images
Renowned economist Dr Jayati Ghosh is the Professor of Economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. She is also a member of the National Knowledge Commission set up by the Indian Prime Minister.