January 12th, 2017
2016 has been a year of unexpected events. Several ups and downs were seen in the year. It was a year which will not be forgotten soon. Let us have a look at other major events which transpired in India in 2016
Odd-even Plan: The State government introduced the ambitious odd-even pilot experiment to reduce pollution and vehicular congestion for a trial period from January. It reduced hourly particulate air pollution concentration by 10-13%.
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Pathankot Attack: On 2 January, a heavily armed group of terrorists attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, a part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force. Six attackers were shot dead, and one civilian and seven security personnel lost their lives. The attack evoked widespread international condemnation and led to a breakdown in India-Pakistan bilateral relations throughout 2016.
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The JNU Incident: Kanhaiya Kumar, former President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students’ Union and a leader of the student wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI), was arrested and charged with sedition by the Delhi police in February 2016. This was for allegedly raising anti-India slogans in a student rally four days earlier on 9 February. The rally was to protest the 2013 hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist convicted for the 2001 Indian Parliament attack. The JNU controversy and Kumar’s arrest ignited a fierce national debate on India’s sedition law (Section 124(A) of the IPC) and free speech in general.
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Kolkata Bridge Collapse: The Vivekananda flyover which was under construction in the Girish Park neighbourhood in Kolkata collapsed on 31 March 2016. 27 people died and more than 80 were injured in the incident. The construction of the 2.2-kilometre flyover was contracted in 2008 and the work began in 2009. The construction was scheduled to have been completed by 2010 but overshot the deadline multiple times.
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Govt. Formation in J&K: Just as in other states of India, Jammu & Kashmir also has a multi-party democratic system of governance. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have collectively held power in the State since the legislative assembly election of 2014. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti succeeded her late father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed as Chief Minister. She was sworn in on 4 April as the 13th – and the first woman – Chief Minister of the State.
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Exit of Raghuram Rajan as RBI Governor: On 18 June 2016, Rajan announced that he would not be serving a second term as RBI Governor and that he would return to academia. His term got over on 4 September. Rajan was appointed as chief economic adviser to India’s Ministry of Finance, replacing Kaushik Basu on 10 August 2012. He prepared the Economic Survey for India for the year 2012–13. He was chief economist at the International Monetary Fund from 2003 to 2007 (the youngest to occupy the position) and is credited as being one of the few intellectuals who predicted the 2008 economic crisis. He is also the current Vice-Chairman of the Bank of International Settlements. His tenure as RBI Governor has received praise from across the political spectrum. He was succeeded by Urjit Patel.
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Assam Flood: India’s North-eastern States saw heavy rainfall in July 2016. The State of Assam faced around 60% more rains than it had received in July 2015. This resulted in flooding of various rivers. On 5 July, the Brahmaputra River crossed its danger mark level in seven districts. The flooding affected 1.8 million people, and flooded the Kaziranga National Park.
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Kashmir Unrest: Burhan Wani, a commander of the Kashmir-based Hizbul Mujahideen (which has been designated a terrorist organization by India, the European Union and the United States), was killed in an encounter with Indian security forces on 8 July 2016. Widespread protests erupted in the Kashmir Valley since his death. More than 85 people have died while over 13000 civilians and 4000 security personnel have been injured. The violence which erupted after his death has been described as the worst unrest in the region since the 2010 Kashmir unrest with Kashmir being placed under 53 consecutive days of curfews imposed by authorities.
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Indian Air Force Aircraft Disappearance: On 22 July 2016, a turboprop transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force disappeared while flying over the Bay of Bengal. The aircraft was flying from Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai to Port Blair. There were 29 people onboard the aircraft. The Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard launched a large search and rescue operation, using a submarine, twelve surface vessels and five aircrafts. On 15 September 2016, the mission was called off; all 29 people on board were presumed dead and their families were notified.
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Release of Mohammad Shahabuddin: Former RJD Parliamentarian Mohammad Shahabuddin was released from Bhagalpur jail on 10 September after the Patna High Court granted him bail in the Rajiv Raushan murder case. However, underlining his criminal antecedents and “societal interest”, the Supreme Court on 16 September cancelled the bail and directed the Bihar government to take him back into custody immediately.
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Uri Attack: On 18 September, four heavily armed terrorists ambushed the Indian Army brigade headquarters at the Kashmiri town of Uri, which lies only 10 kilometres east of the Line of Control. 19 soldiers were killed in the attack. All four attackers were killed in the pre-dawn gun battle. The attack occurred amidst the 2016 Kashmir Unrest, and further destabilised India-Pakistan relations.
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Surgical Strike by India: On 29 September 2016, eleven days after the attack on the base camp at Uri, the Indian Army claimed that it conducted a ‘surgical strike’ against the militants in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Indian Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh said that they received cridible and specific informatin of the terrorist teams. The Indian action was meant to pre-empt their infiltration. However, Pakistan rejected the claim, stating that Indian troops had not crossed the Line of Control but had only skirmished with Pakistani troops at the border. The strike led to a military confrontation between India and Pakistan involving heavy cross-border firing, though full-scale war was averted.
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Exit of Cyrus Mistry as TATA Sons Chairman: In a dramatic development, Tata Sons, the holding company of the $103-billion Tata group, said its board of directors had removed Cyrus Mistry as Chairman of the conglomerate and named Ratan Tata as interim chairman for four months.
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Demonetization: The demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes was enacted by the Government of India on 8 November 2016. In an unscheduled announcement, Prime Minister Naredra Modi declared that use of all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series would be invalid from midnight and announced the issuance of new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes. This move was to stop black money and counterfeit notes. In the days following the demonetisation, banks and ATMs across the country faced severe cash shortages, and several people even lost their lives in the chaos. The Prime Minister has called for perseverance even as the issue evolves along partisan lines. The real implications of demonetization on the economy and the war against black money remains to be seen.
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Author: Guru Prakash Choudhary
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