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Wish we could reverse the year

By : K Balakumar, E-Mail : balakumarkb@gmail.com
Saturday, 24th December 2016

When you look back on 2016, you have to agree that in the overall scheme of things that it was a pretty decent year.

 

No, just pause. As I type this, there is a new press release from the Reserve Bank of India saying that the year 2016 may actually be bad and things aren’t as good as they look.

 

Ho, ho, ho. I think we need to pause again. For, here we have another notification from the RBI that the year was absolutely fantastic and the RBI is reversing its previous press release which itself was a cancel of its own order issued a few hours ago, which could have been issued to overturn another RBI notification, and all things considered, the year 2016 was...

 

Heck. We just are not sure of anything anymore. We have no clue what sort of year 2016 was. We may not be even sure whether it was the year 2016 we are discussing. But what we are sure is that the forces that got down to executing the demonetisation scheme should not be allowed anywhere near any other work, even if it is just opening the fridge, and they should be dropped in some random island from where they can escape only if they can recite, exactly till the last decimal point, the cube root of their sixteen-digit debit card number.

 

Aside from the demonetisation demon, what was the year 2016 like? ‘America elects Donald Trump as its President’. What was stuff of spoof news last year came chillingly true in 2016. How he got elected will forever remain a mystery, except that it is factual to think that the same force that gobbled up a Malaysian Airline flight two years ago was at it again.

 

Talking of America, it was that kind of year where people there couldn’t differentiate between real and fake news. Ha. Ha. Ha. Here in India we don’t get this confusion at all because we don’t read news at all. We follow only memes.

 

Back in India, attacks in Pathankot, Uri and some other places in Kashmir by Pak and its non-state actors confirmed two things for sure: 1. Those who want India to go to war with Pak are totally wrong. 2. Those who want India to talk it out with Pak are even more wrong. And the solution for India --- we have all done this in the face of persistently problematic neighbours --- is to shift to some other place where there is probably no Pakistan, like near Canada.

 

In politics, Arvind Kejriwal, who hitherto was the Chief Minister of Delhi, also manfully shouldered the extra responsibility of --- it would be great if all other Chief Ministers emulated him --- CAT on T, (Delhi and Punjab). CAT, of course, is Chief Angry Troll on Twitter.
Like Kejri, Mamata Bannerjee too was feisty and fierce, and she stood up for the rights of West Bengal, especially for that large part of West Bengal in Tamil Nadu as she stoutly came to the defence of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary whose properties were raided by the Income Tax department.

 

In cricket, India had a phenomenal year, walking away with many top ICC honours, including the ICC Deadbat Player of the Year, for stonewalling everything thrown at him and for being a complete package of shame, to Anurag Thakur, the BCCI chief. By the end of the year, he was making us wistful for N Srinivasan. And that sure takes some doing. 

 

India let slip Vijay Mallya early this year, but thanks to the use of high-end technology and modern-day sleuthing, there was a major breakthrough by late this year as his Twitter account could be breached. It is only a matter of time before his Facebook account is also frozen.

 

This was the Olympic year, and just as every one was wondering whether anybody can outshadow Michael Phelps’ five gold medals and one silver at Rio (career Olympic medal tally 28), a spunky American swimmer took up the challenge spiritedly with a sensational show and story (albeit far away from the pool) and by the end of which, people were wondering ‘Phelps who?’ Thanks a lot Ryan Lochte, but for you and your antics, Phelps would have been under enormous public pressure with all the needless focus on him.
We heard a lot less of Arundhati Roy, which was one of the good news about 2016, but it was offset by T M Krishna who refused to get off our news pages.  

 

But much as the whole year was troubled and turbulent, one man single-handedly kept us going, providing us fun and keeping us all entertained in every possible way. Thank you, Rahul Gandhi. Without you there wouldn’t have been any great laughs in 2016, which without any notification from the RBI, began in...

January

The nation wakes up to a beautiful New Year and celebrates its arrival in style, but the nation’s capital ushers in the New Year only three days later as because the pollution in Delhi is such that people cannot locate the calendar.
Not very far off from New Delhi, Punjab’s border town, Pathankot is under attack. Militants from Pakistan sneak into the highly fortified airbase and kill many soldiers. Nobody dared question the killing of soldiers in the border because how can they be insensitive at a time, well, when soldiers were getting shot in the border.

 

In a major scientific breakthrough, something that sets the tone for the rest of the year, RBI successfully clones the chromosomes of two separate thousand rupee notes to form one robust two thousand rupee note. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulates the scientists at the RBI for “making chromo’many’ from chromo’somes’.” Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu looks on approvingly at the amazing wordplay wondering why it didn’t occur to him in the first place.

 

Rahul Gandhi, in a televised speech from Bathnda, Punjab, says it is staggering that India has still not sealed its borders with Pakistan. “Why can’t they use M-seal,?” he asks not unreasonably. He along with GhulamNabi Azad lead a symbolic march towards the border with M-seal in their hands and a placard that reads: “Seal the holes, save the nation”.

 

Down south, there is a huge furore over the continuing ban on Jallikattu, a sport of valour that defines the culture and tradition of the land admeasuring about a couple of acres. Jallikattu is a sport famous among brave youth who are unafraid to get drunk early in the morning.

 

In foreign news, Washington news corps, backed by years and years of experience in understanding political developments and people’s pulse, put out well-researched pieces on the impossibility staring at Donald Trump in becoming the US President. “Americans will not be fools to elect a fool. This is no third-world banana republic,” say one columnist after the other.

But fresh off the RBI mints arrive...

 

February

Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveils to a grateful nation a grand and holistic plan linking Aadhaar for using public toilets in villages across the country. ‘Jan Dump’ is the name of the scheme. Online news sites, like the troll.in and thetire.in, come up with impassioned pieces (titled ‘ifs and butts’ and ‘Loo behold, stinking govt peeps into bathrooms’) on how government’s move is an invasion of extreme privacy and argue that government is planning to sell Indians’ ‘bathroom info’ to foreign pharma companies who will make money out of it.

 

Elsewhere, at a public rally near Kanpur, UP, Rahul Gandhi says that the reality of the situation in the nation is, “people need an Aadhaar to get an Aadhaar”.

 

Meanwhile, the news from the financial markets is not so encouraging as both Sensex and Nifty, after days of frenzied trading, ends at a disturbing 34 degree Fahrenheit, something unprecedented in the month pof January.

 

RBI announces a tie-up with Amazon for a novel scheme, Amazon ATM, where Indian rupees will be available in Kindle versions.

 

In sensational developments from the media, TimesNow releases latest figures for Arnab Goswami’s News Hour, and for the first time ever in the history of television news broadcasting in India the noise levels cross the sonic boom threshold.

 

In international news, delegates arriving for a global warming summit in Maldives find the island nation totally gone under surging sea waters. But scientists and leaders assuage the world that “Maldives getting totally submerged is not something to worry about and there was still time for the summit to be held in Mauritius”.

 

Staying abroad, in the middle-east, the refugee crisis worsens with reports of migratory birds from Syria being sighted at “Perth, Australia for months without end”.

 

But in an unexpected turn of events, RBI abruptly ends February to move to...

 

March

In a major embarrassment to the Narendra Modi government, the Chief Justice of India publicly cries over the delay in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and he gets an immediate wildcard entry to ‘India Has Got Talent’ show.

 

In Maharashtra, MNS cadre go on protest against Bollywood actors Rahul Dev and Mukesh Rishi for repeatedly playing terrorists from Pakistan roles in South Indian films. The MNS guys want all South Indian films banned for featuring roles of Pak terrorists.

 

In a related move, in the continuing drive against black money and counterfeit currency pushed in through terrorists, Modi government carries out raids at Rahul Dev and Mukesh Rishi houses and seize “fake counterfeit currency” worth crores and crores of rupees in hawala transactions in movie scenes.

 

In Tamil Nadu, the State election scene heats up with a no-holds-barred electrifying campaign featuring, primarily, Jayalalithaa reading practically the same speech at every meeting, Karunanidhi saying the same thing that he has been since the 1960s, and Vijayakanth speaking heaven knows what.

 

The Narendra Modi government, giving a fillip to the Make In India campaign, launches an app to help poor people to make their own apps. Aap ka app is what it is called.

 

Rahul Gandhi shrewdly pins the government down with the charge that this app, aimed for poor people,“is not at all compatible with landlines”.

 

In Europe, there is talk of Britain exiting the European Union. But again, seasoned experts in media, who have gauged public opinion precisely for years, say all this talk just rubbish. In America, journalists who opinionate on Trump nod in agreement.

 

RBI in a tersely worded communique announces the arrival of May, but what arrives is of course...

 

April

 

Taking suo motu cognisance of some AAP MLAs still remaining un-chargesheeted, the Supreme Court sends a notice to the Central government to explain, within five holidays, “the extreme anomaly”.  

 

The RBI and the Finance Ministry in a swift overnight operation, ban the increasing and disturbing usage of ‘check’ for ‘cheque’. The press release for the same said the move is “expected to fetch the government a savings of lakhs and crores in consonants”. 

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to Hawaii and signs a historic trade agreement with it “for supplying over a million of plain off-white shirts to the island”, which has never seen such shirts in its entire history. 

 

Indian Railways comes up with some proposals to push private participation in its expansion drive. Rahul Gandhi, speaking at an election rally in Chennai, reminds the Tamil electorate that the privatisation of Indian Railways began under the Congress government in

 

2013 when it allowed Rohit Shetty to make Chennai Express.  

 

Uber drivers across the country go on a strike and much of the traffic on Twitter comes down. 

 

Hackers target a couple of up and coming e-commerce networks and their apps, temporarily halting their operations and in the process stopping them from making losses in their usual manner.

 

In the US, it is increasingly clear that the Presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, though technically too close to call, is expected to be sewn up by Hillary, as one Washington political commentator memorably put it, “based on the fact that she does not answer to the name Donald Trump”. 

 

Meanwhile in India, it was time for the RBI to recall April and recaliberate the ATMs to dish out...  

 

May

In the three months ending in May, a total of 3700 T20 matches is played in the Indian subcontinent and at the end of it, the IPL is won by Afghanistan while World T20 title is easily captured by Gujarat Lions and the Asian T20 championship is annexed by Chennaiyin FC.  Or some much as after such never-ending series of matches, nobody recalls anything. 

 

In Britain, Brexit referendum looms. Pollsters initially say that those in favour of exiting were winning. Pollsters later feel that those wanting Britain to stay within EU are holding sway. In the event, the mood in Britain is overwhelmingly clear that the pollsters, like everywhere else, are talking out of their posteriors. But to be fair to the pollsters, they are expected to get their predictions right soon after the actual results are out. 

 

Staying with international news, world over right-wing politicians are making a resounding surge. In the elections in Austria, in a close-race for Presidential post, the incumbent retains his seat. However, a close second is Amit Shah.

 

In a last-minute inclusion, the main draw in the Rio Olympics is women’s beach Pokemon Go.

 

A startup in Bangalore gets 250 million dollars in VC funding for a smart business venture that makes home-heaters that work on low-cost technology of literally burning cash. 

 

RBI installs an exclusive ATM in that company.

 

State election results are out. In most places, the Congress is wiped out. Rahul Gandhi says that he was looking at the positives, in that Congress were the winners in many exit polls.
(The second part of this column will appear next week)

 

 

About Columnist

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