As the year 2018 draws to a close, we bring you a look at 10 events that shocked, appalled, entertained and even horrified the 1.25 billion people of India. The past year has been dynamic for all fields and streams. From violent protests to landmark judgments, from World Cup wins to demise of ever green Bollywood and political stars - Indians went through a roller coaster ride through 2018.
Here are the 10 major events of 2018 captivated the imagination of the entire nation:
1. Bhima Koregaon violence: The year kick started with violence. During the annual celebration of victory in Battle of Bhima Koregaon, Dalit groups clashed with right-wing groups, leading to widespread violence in Maharashtra district. The clash, which took place on January 1, resulted in one death, injuries to 30 policemen and detention of over 300 people. The Buddhist/Dalit groups called a state-wide bandh on January 3, which ended with further violence across the state.
In the aftermath, police claimed to uncover a major Maoist conspiracy behind the protests and arrested five well-known rights activists for allegedly planning a major conspiracy against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
2. MeToo Movement: The global feminist movement, which reached India a little later than the rest of the world, shook the nation like a storm. India's MeToo movement started with actress Tanushree Dutta accusing veteran actor Nana Patekar of sexual misconduct on the sets of a film they did together 10 years ago. While the case, which she filed in the matter, is sub-judice, her act of speaking up gave courage to scores of women, who decided to share their stories. Soon, the social media was flooded with several sexual misconduct allegations, some even amounting to rape.
Notable names, which were listed as accused by more than one alleged victim, were actor Alok Nath, senior journalist and then-MoS for External Affairs MJ Akbar, film director Vikas Bahl, writer Chetan Bhagat, comedian Utsav Chakraborty and Aditi Mittal, among others.
Ushering the country into modern-liberal era, the Supreme Court of India recognised the rights of LGBTQI community. The SC order legalised the sex with the partner of same gender by scrapping the archaic Section 377, which criminalised any sex other than between man and woman. In another order, related to sexual freedom, the apex court adjudged that adultery was not a crime.
In yet another remarkable order, the Supreme Court threw open the doors of Sabarimala temple for women of menstrual age. Even though the state and temple authorities have not been able to implement the order yet due to resistance form the community, the order sure paves the way for progressive change in the future.
Settling the debate on Aadhaar, the Supreme Court clarified that while UIDAI was constitutional and key for social security benefits as well as national security. However, keeping in mind the sensitivity of the individual's data, the SC banned the use of Aadhaar by private firms for validation or any other purposes.
In February, 24-year-old Avani Chaturvedi became the first woman in India to fly a fighter jet alone. The flying officer flew a MiG-21 Bison, which possesses the highest takeoff and landing speed in the world. Her maiden solo training lasted 30 minutes and put India on a global list of countries like USA, Israel and the UK were women play an active combat role. Six months later, Delhi Police welcomed India’s first all-female commando team. The 36 women went through 15-months of rigorous training where they were taught to handle weapons, counter terrorism and learnt Krav Maga. This team made a mark in India’s history because they were the first ones to break the male hold on the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team in the country.
7. Kerala floods:
n August, Kerala witnessed the worst natural calamity since the great flood of 1924. Unusually high monsoon rainfall inundated the state for several days. Over 483 people died, and 14 went missing. Around 10 lakh people were evacuated from 14 affected districts. The gates of 35 out of 54 dams in the states were thrown open, an unprecedent act. According to the Kerala government, one-sixth of the total population of Kerala had been directly affected by the floods and related incidents. The Central government had declared it a Level 3 Calamity, or "calamity of a severe nature".
Man-made disaster which horrified the nation, the Amritsar Train Tragedy plunged the nation int sorrow on the day of Hindu festival Dusshera. On October 19, hundreds of people were crushed by two passenger trains in Punjab's Amritsar. The crowd had gathered to watch Raavan dahan and were standing on the tracks, when trains came speeding by. At least 59 people were killed while 100 others were injured.
In the world of sports, India national blind cricket team claimed the 2018 Blind Cricket World Cup title by defeating Pakistan. In the thrilling final, defending champions India defeated Pakistan by 2 wickets to secure their 2nd Blind Cricket World Cup title under the captaincy of Ajay Kumar Reddy.
Carving a niche for India in the global space market, Indian Space Research Organisation achieved the feat of launching 31 satellites in a single flight, not once but twice this year. On January 12, ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its forty second flight, successfully launched the 710 kg Cartosat-2 Series Remote Sensing Satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. In November, ISRO's PSLV C43 injected India’s Hyper-Spectral Imaging Satellite (HysIS) and 30 foreign satellites into their orbits.
HysIS is an earth observation satellite with the primary goal to study the earth’s surface in both the visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Data from the satellite will be used for a wide range of applications including agriculture, forestry, soil/geological environments, coastal zones and inland waters, etc.