By Amrita Roy:
A few weeks back, Nido Tania was brutally assaulted by shopkeepers and locals in Lajpat Nagar. Ethnic discrimination is rampant in our country, at least implicitly. People from the north take jibes at people from the south of India and vice versa. It is even more saddening that every panelist on every debate on every news channel says that tolerance of differences must be increased. Being ethnically diverse is not a negative that needs to be tolerated. It is a positive that must be accepted.
The Himalayan tsunami destroyed most of the Kedarnath valley turning it into a “ghost town”. Homes, schools, roads, bridges, livelihoods, everything was snatched away from the local residents in a matter of a few days. The Kedarnath temple was one of the very few structures that withstood nature’s wrath. Experts say the damage was aggravated due to the unscientific and unplanned development that has happened over the years. For the profits that some private companies reap from these projects, thousands of lives are put at stake. Especially after a disaster of such massive scale, the government needs to realize the importance of all inclusive growth and development which ensures the welfare of the people and the environment along with the benefits of the corporations.
Call her Nirbhaya or Damini or simply refer to the tragedy as the 2012 Delhi gang rape case, none of us are unaware of the atrocities she was subjected to. As expected, soon we saw politicians condemning the gang rape and promising a better future for the women of the country. However, every now and then a politico comes up with a sexist and misogynist remark. Marital rape is still not a crime under the law. The police has time and again proved its ineffectiveness. The system really needs to begin treating women as humans too, whose lives and rights are just as important as men’s.
26/11 is possibly a terror attack that is still fresh in our minds. While civilians were being killed and held hostage, the politicians of our country fiddled in their seats trying to conceal their ineptness. Soon after, both the State and Central government implemented measures to increase security. But are the sea borders of our country safe? Will the newly equipped police and armed forces be able to save the city against another terror attack? Well, they were unsuccessful in the 2011 blasts. Maybe the government is waiting for another few hundreds of civilians to fall victim to terror attacks before it reevaluates its decisions.
And this list would be incomplete without a mention of the photo that was splashed across Indian and foreign media in 2002. Clicked by photojournalist Arko Dutta, it became the face of the Gujarat riots. Qutubbudin Ansari, a tailor, is seen pleading for his life. The bloodstains on his shirt are a reminder of the horrors of one of the worst communal riots in the country. But maybe even more shocking than the riots itself are the reactions Ansari received from people. He was ridiculed for crying and begging with joined hands for his life. This kind of apathy is the germ of intolerance that leads to more heinous crimes like riots. Every human life is worth the same, and until we understand that, we won’t be able to put a stop to such crimes.
But not all is bad with the country either! There are people like Narayanan Krishnan who work day and night to help the people of the country. The award-winning chef gave up an elite job in Switzerland to be able to feed the mentally disabled and homeless. He founded the Akshaya Trust in 2003 which serves three meals a day to over 400 people. The chef-turned-social-worker also was selected in the Top 10 in the CNN Heroes of 2010.
On 5th April 2011, Anna Hazare went on an indefinite hunger strike in an effort to pressurize the government to free the country from corruption. The movement struck a huge chord with the aam aadmi and thousands of people turned up to show support. While political agendas kept the formation of a strong Lokpal Bill at bay, a new political party was formed — the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The fledgling party fought the Delhi elections and won a surprising 28 seats. A new political page is being written in the history of India. Let’s hope it’s for the betterment of the people.
India launched the Mars Orbiter Mission, commonly known as Mangalyaan, on 5th November 2013. Just days after, NASA sent off MAVEN to Mars as well. Both ISRO and NASA will coordinate their actions once both the satellites enter the orbit of the red planet. However, Mangalyaan cost only $ 75 million which is less than the amount spent to make the Hollywood sci-fi movie Gravity. And the MAVEN cost NASA a whopping $ 671 million. This establishes India as the global center for low cost effective innovations and technology. If successful, ISRO would be the 4th space agency to reach Mars.
Sachin Tendulkar, the god of cricket, retired after playing his 200th test match at Wankhede stadium last year. He scored a 74 and bowled a few overs in his last international match before leaving the 22 yard field for the last time. As the match ended, Team India formed a guard of honor and the crowd erupted in a chant reverberating “Sachin, Sachin”. With his retirement, the baton was officially passed on to the younger generation of cricketers. But for many people, cricket will never be the same again.
With Satya Nadella being named the new CEO of Microsoft, Indians have many reasons to be proud. Indian talent is being recognized at the international platform. Nadella is an inspiration to the youth of the country that seeks to establish itself as an intelligent, thought-provoking and capable entity. While the resources present may not be the best, the sheer hard work and dedication will definitely put the youth of India on the world map.