India: The best and worst of 2013

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 31, 2013 10:00 hrs

Biggest rise: Arvind Kejriwal.

He is an engineer turned bureaucrat turned activist turned politician and has tasted success wherever he has gone. An IIT alumnus, he became an RTI crusader and won the Magsaysay Award in 2006.

Many would have thought that the August Kranti agitation would have been his peak, but he launched the Aam Aadmi Party which thrashed the Congress and gave the BJP a tough fight in the Delhi Assembly elections.

If someone had said last year that the AAP would form the government in Delhi, then they would have been laughed off.

He is currently eyeing the Lok Sabha polls of 2014 and a larger national political role.

Biggest fall: Tarun Tejpal.

Tejpal was a holier than thou crusader, celebrated writer and power centre. Tehelka was synonymous with Tejpal and for the Civil Society he could do no wrong. But one rape charge and his pack of cards has come crashing down.

Tehelka staffers quit in protest and the magazine is now tottering. Tejpal lost his Prasar Bharti post and all sorts of financial irregularities have come to light. His proximity to the Congress is now suicidal considering that the party itself is set for a fall in 2014.

Consolation prize: Nitish Kumar. Before he accepted a special package from Congress for Bihar, he could do no wrong. And after that he could do no right.

The BJP parted ways. JD(U) leaders started putting their feet in their mouths. Blasts hit Bihar’s image. Even the till now dead RJD is planning a revival.

Superhit of the year: Narendra Modi.
Whatever Modi has touched has turned to gold. His speeches were super hits. He got nominated as Prime Ministerial candidate. The UK House of Commons invited him to speak. And in the end, the BJP swept the Assembly polls on a Modi wave.

Superflop of the year: Rahul Gandhi.

Pappu must be feeling totally lost. Nobody listens to his speeches. He is a laughing stock in cyberspace. The Congress was decimated in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and couldn’t even make it as the Opposition in Delhi. 2013 is a year that Pappu would want to forget, but 2014 could be worse.

No trust moment of the year: AP Congress MPs.

The voters are losing trust in the Congress. The markets have lost trust in them. The Congress workers may have also lost trust in the leadership. But the most bizarre moment came when their own MPs from Andhra Pradesh wanted to move a no-trust move against them in Parliament!

Diplomatic disaster of the year: Devyani Khobragade.

Who would have thought that the salary of the maid of a diplomat would lead to an international incident? But that is exactly what happened when Devyani was arrested, handcuffed and strip searched in New York.

The whole of India was aghast and the Indian government took a tough stand with the US government digging in its heels too.

Deja vu of the year: India-Pakistan.

The two countries talked peace. There were clashes at the border. A new Pakistan Army chief took over. (Will he affect a coup?) Nawaz Sharif of the Kargil infamy was back at the helm. The more things change, the more they remain the same in the surreal world of Indo-Pak.

Party of the year: BJP.

They got all their moves right. They appointed Modi as their PM candidate. A party notoriously known for infighting retained all their regional leaders who delivered results for them. They even neutralized troublemaker LK Advani.

Bollywood star of the year: Deepika Padukone.

Every Deepika hit this year has either been a superhit or a blockbuster: Race 2, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Chennai Express and Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela. All her films combined have done a total business of more than Rs 1000 crores and she may have just created a new benchmark.

Disappointment of the year: Viswanathan Anand.

Emanuel Lasker, Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov have six world chess titles each. Anand could have joined this elite group, but it was not to be and he is stuck at 5. More than the loss was the manner in which he lost to Magnus Carlsen. Anand is 43 and has a tough road ahead for another title.

Terror group of the year: Indian Mujahideen.

In the past groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba have troubled us, but this year it was IM. They were suspected in both the Bodh Gaya and Patna blasts. Their founder Yasin Bhatkal was nabbed.

Dud sting of the year: Operation Blue Virus.

Trust Aniruddha Bahal to always come out with a sting about something that everyone knows and something that just creates a flutter and doesn’t result in many systemic changes. Everyone knows about fake accounts and the like on social media and Operation Blue Virus told us absolutely nothing new.

Dud political ploy of the year: Food Security Bill.

NREGA was the UPA1 winner and FSB was supposed to be the UPA2 winner. Nothing of the sort happened and populism seems to have hit a dead end for the Congress.

Speech of the year: Modi’s I-Day address.

While Modi had many power packed speeches, the pick was probably the Independence Day one where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paled into

Scam of the year: Choppergate.

The AgustaWestland helicopter scam is unprecedented in the fact that a former IAF chief has been chargesheeted.

Target practice of the year: Amit Shah.

When your attacks against Modi directly fail, try to go through his right hand man Amit Shah. The Ishrat Jahan case and Snoopgate were two such examples. Some even tried to hide the SP’s role in UP’s communal tension by pointing fingers at Shah.

Implosion of the year: Andhra Pradesh.

Chandrababu Naidu was the darling of the world and his successor YSR Reddy was a model CM. But today Andhra Pradesh is in tatters. Telangana has been cleared but is not a State yet. The longer it stays in limbo land, the worse it will get.

Conviction of the year: Laloo Prasad Yadav.

It is very rare in India for a former Chief Minister to be convicted for corruption, but that is exactly what happened to Laloo in the fodder scam.

Breakthrough of the year: Mangalyaan.

ISRO added another feather in their cap when they successfully launched their Mars Orbiter Mission.

Contradiction of the year: Mandela & Gandhi.

Nelson Mandela was arrested because he left the country without permission for military training. He co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe, which believed in bombing government installations and in one incident many civilians were killed.

Once he refused to give an undertaking to leave violence and preferred to stay in jail.

We all know what Gandhi thought of the military approach and how he forced Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose out of the Congress for that.

Nobody doubts Mandela’s greatness, but why do you have to see him through the prism of Gandhi and call him the Gandhi of South Africa? They were as different as chalk and cheese.

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. 

He blogs here.