As we bid adieu to 2017, we take a quick look at ten most crucial happenings, decisions and discourses that took centre stage in the world’s largest democracy.
2017 will go down in history as a year that saw many significant developments in India and across the globe. While the United States elected its forty-fifth President, North Korea secretly acquired more nuclear weapons. Even as heated feuds continued around global warming, the Rohingya Muslims, deemed to be world’s most persecuted community, fled from alleged ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.
How about events in India, a bustling economy that is still recuperating from the far-reaching effects of demonetisation? Here’s a list of ten important events and debates that tells you how India fared in 2017:
1. Implementation of Goods and Services Tax
The much contested Goods and Services Tax (GST) was rolled out on July 1, 2017, replacing multiple taxes levied by governments. With intense political debates and parliamentary deliberations threatening its implementation for months, the tax reform was finally set in motion to tackle issues such as price rise, tax avoidance, etc.
GST, which also aimed at an accelerated growth of GDP, replaced over 15 different taxes and various cesses imposed by central and state governments.
2. Election of new President and Vice-President
In an election held on July 17, 2017, India elected its 14th President. Seventy-one-year-old Ram Nath Kovind took office of the President from former Pranab Mukherjee who refused to contest for a re-election due to ill-health. BJP’s Kovind (winning a majority of over 65 percent votes) defeated Indian National Congress’s Meira Kumar who also formerly held the chair of Lok Sabha speaker.
Additionally, BJP’s M Venkaiah Naidu was elected as India’s 13th Vice-President overpowering Opposition’s Gopalkrishna Gandhi in an election on August 5, 2017.
3. FIFA Youth World cup in India
India hosted the 17th FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 from 6-28 October. The matches of this biennial tournament which marked the first of any FIFA events held in India, were held across six cities in India.
In a tourney that saw participants from 24 countries across the world, England defeated competitor Spain in the final match to clinch the coveted title.
4. High number of railway accidents
2017 will not be remembered as a good year for the country’s largest public-sector employers — The Indian Railways. From the Hirakhand Express derailment in January to the Kalinga Utkal train incident in August, the whole of 2017 was marked by frequent railway accident that claimed many innocent lives.
The back to back derailments of the Utkal Express and the Kaifiyat Express in the month of August also led to the resignation of former Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu who offered to quit taking “full moral responsibility” for the unfortunate accidents.
5. ISRO continues to make India proud
It was yet another year of jubilation for Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for it achieved a historic feat of having launched a massive 104 satellites using its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
On February 15, the Indian rocket successfully managed to launch Cartostat-2 (India’s earth observation satellite weighing 714 kgs) along with 103 other co-passenger satellites in a single go.
ISRO is aiming bigger and better accomplishments in the next couple of years with the planned launch of Chandrayaan II and Aditya-L1.
6. Military conflicts and standoffs with Pakistan and China
In line with repeated border clashes, tension between world’s two most populous economies escalated over the disputed Doklam plateau in Western Bhutan. China’s stubborn road building efforts in the region has irked India to the extent that it’s now prepping for a two-front war.
Despite the 10-week military standoff with China, India’s Army Chief General Bipin Rawat warned on September, 2017, that India should be wary of military tensions that could further snowball into larger conflicts, with Pakistan taking advantage of the situation.
7. Farmer protests galore
Repeated droughts and failed monsoons leading to subsequent crop failures have rendered scores of farmers across many Indian states helpless and suicidal. 2017 saw plentiful protests of many such distressed famers who walked the streets of Delhi seeking political intervention in the form of compensations and loan waivers.
In a recent protest staged on November 21, farmers from more than 180 different organisations came together in the national capital demanding that the ruling government reduce farm input costs, ensure fair prices for their produce and adopt various debt free measures.
8. #MeToo campaign
This online campaign initiated by actress Alyssa Milano in early October saw thousands of Indian women speak up against sexual abuse.
The outpouring of disturbing narratives by women on various social media platforms had #MeToo going viral and soon it turned into a movement of solidarity for women who were victims of various form of sexual harassment.
9. The brutal murder of Gauri Lankesh
The cold-blooded assassination of Gauri Lankesh, a leading woman journalist from Bengaluru, came as a deathly blow to India’s shrinking free speech and press freedom.
Gauri was shot to death by unidentified miscreants outside her residence in the evening hours of September 5. A liberal journalist and activist, Gauri ran a weekly newspaper Gauri Lankesh Patrike in Karnataka.
10. Rising pollution levels across Indian cities
With a toxic haze choking Delhiites this year as well, pollution across Indian cities rose to dangerous levels, with the National Capital Region (NCR) topping the chart of deadly pollutants present in the air.
However, Delhi (deemed to be the most polluted city in the world), had a relatively cleaner Diwali this year, thanks to the apex court’s ban on the sale of firecrackers in NCR.
In a ruling given in early October, the SC also temporarily suspended licenses handed over by Delhi Police permitting the sale of Diwali crackers in Delhi and within NCR, paving way for more eco-friendly measures that could help in ensuring pollutant-free environment.