2020 will always be remembered the world over as the year which changed the world forever and impacted lives of millions across the world.
As India keeps its fingers crossed with regards to rollout of the long awaited COVID-19 vaccine and hopes for a brighter 2021, we look back at the year gone by to tell you how each and every event impacted our lives as a nation.
ANTI-CAA PROTESTS & DELHI RIOTS
When the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – which seeks to fast-track citizenship for persecuted minority groups in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, was passed by the Parliament in December last year, protests erupted in multiple areas of the national capital including Shaheen Bagh and at different places across the country.
This because CAA, which seeks to change the definition of illegal migrants, doesn’t have a provision for granting citizenship to Muslims from neighbouring nations but specifically talks of six minority groups including Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis.
Investigation by Delhi Police revealed that anti-CAA protests were used to fan communal unrest leading to widespread violence and that the minority community was misled with lies and disinformation. As of March 6, the death toll in Delhi riots touched 53. Hundreds were injured. And many more scarred for life.
The Delhi Police has named fifteen people as accused in 17,000-page charge sheet filed over the violence that scarred Delhi in February this year. Rioting was reported along the same time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was hosting US President Donald Trump in India.
If riots rocked Delhi early this year, Bengaluru witnessed largescale violence left Bengaluru shaken in the month of August.
Incensed by a provocative post on Prophet Muhammad, allegedly shared by the nephew of Congress legislator Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, an enraged mob gathered in front of his residence. Cops were called in and clashes broke out between the mob and the police which soon spread to KG Halli and DJ Halli police stations.
At least three persons were killed when police opened fire and scores including cops and journalists were injured in clashes with the armed mob. Property was vandalised, police station attacked and vehicles were torched during the protests.
NIA took over the investigations in September. In December, NIA arrested 17 persons including office-bearers, active members and sympathizers of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and the Popular Front of India (PFI) taking the total number of arrests in the riots conspiracy to 187.
NIA said that besides launching an attack on Kadugondana Halli police station in August, the accused used social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp extensively “to spread terror among people”. The accused have also been charged mobilising people from distant locations to create panic and terror.
SDPI on its part however has denied any involvement with the case.
On January 27, a 20-year-old woman presented to the Emergency Department of General Hospital in Kerala’s Thrissur with a one-day history of dry cough and sore throat. There was no history of fever, rhinitis or shortness of breath. She disclosed that she had returned to Kerala from Wuhan in China on January 23, owing to COVID-19 outbreak. She was asymptomatic between January 23 and 26. On January 27 morning, she felt a mild sore throat and dry cough. She was India’s first COVID-19 patient.
Between then and December 23, the COVID-19 tally has shot up to 1,00,99,066. According to Union Health Ministry data, the death toll has touched 1,46,444. There are 2.89 lakh active cases in the country, while as many as 96.63 lakh people have recovered from the disease.
In a bid to contain the spread of the virus, Centre imposed once of the strictest lockdowns nationwide. State borders were sealed, trains and flights stopped, offices and schools closed down and all vehicular movement besides those engaged in emergency services were off roads. Washing hands, wearing masks and work from home became the new normal and schools and colleges and virtual meetings became the order of the day.
Gradually, as testing increased, the nationwide lockdown, which also saw huge migrant exodus and led to massive pay cuts and job losses across sectors, was replaced by different phases of Unlock and social distancing norms came to be enforced.
All these months the availability of COVID-19 vaccine became the big question on everyone’s mind and India, which reached out with aid to many countries during these trying times, also took a proactive role in development of the vaccine. While Pune-based Serum Institute tied up with AstraZeneca-Oxford University for vaccine rollout, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech too worked relentlessly on this front along with other pharma players. The vaccines are in advanced stages of development and hopefully will be available soon.
As COVID-19 crippled the economy, the Centre rolled out a fiscal package and also emphasized on Atmanirbhar Bharat.
GALWAN VALLEY CLASH
On the intervening night of June 15-16, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops tried to alter the status quo in eastern Ladakh leading to violent skirmish with the Indian Army along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Twenty bravehearts of the Indian Army led by Col Santosh babu laid down their lives fighting for their motherland leading to massive anti-China protests across the country.
As India engaged in rounds of dialogue at all levels to diffuse the border tension, China remained defiant and tried altering the status quo at other points along the LAC. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the forward areas and interacted with the troops while sending out a message loud and clear that India is committed to protect its sovereignty at all costs.
BAN ON CHINESE APPS
Tightening the noose on Chinese investments in India, Centre came down heavily on Chinese mobile apps including TikTok, PUBG Mobile, Ali Express, WeChat raking in the moolah in India at the cost of India’s national interest.
While 59 apps were banned in June, 118 additional apps were banned in September and 43 additional apps in November under under section 69A of the Information Technology Act. The government said it is committed to protect the interests of citizens and sovereignty and integrity of India on all fronts and it shall take all possible steps to ensure that.
India’s move – which led to a cascading effect across the world – met with stiff resistance from China and the Dragon said it violated WTO norms.
SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT DEATH ROW
The mystery surrounding Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death became one of the biggest talking points across the country.
While the Mumbai Police maintained that Sushant had committed suicide, questions were raised about whether the cops were hand in gloves with the accused and in a hurry to close the case without conducting a proper investigation.
As Justice For Sushant became the nation’s demand and Sushant’s father came out in Patna to pin the blame on Sushant’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty with grave accusation of money laundering, CBI began probing the case. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) got involved and Rhea and her brother Showik were arrested for their alleged involvement in the drug angle. The spotlight also fell on a host of other Bollywood celebrities for their involvement in drugs trail. ED is also looking at the money aspect closely.
With the Supreme Court finally paving the way for construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed the ‘bhoomi pujan’ and laid the foundation stone for the grand temple on August 5.
PM said that the temple will reflect the rich heritage of Indian culture like the name of Lord Ram and will become the modern symbol of our traditions. A massive fund raising campaign will be undertaken to raise money for construction of the grand temple.
The temple will be 235 feet wide, 360 feet long and 161 feet high. Once complete, the temple complex will be the world’s third largest Hindu shrine. It is designed in the Nagara style of temple architecture.
SUPER CYCLONE AMPHAN
Around 2.4 million people displaced in India, mainly in West Bengal and Odisha besides and 2.5 million in Bangladesh. That’s the scale of the destruction left behind by super cyclone Amphan which made landfall in the Sundarbans near the Indo-Bangladesh border in May.
According to the recently released World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) provisional report on the State of Global Climate, Amphan is estimated to be the costliest tropical cyclone on record in the North Indian Ocean with economic losses amounting to about $14 billion.
Amphan caused large-scale evacuation of residents of coastal areas in India and Bangladesh where 129 lives were lost.
The Election Commission took on the onerous task of conducting Bihar polls in the midst of the raging coronavirus pandemic. Laying down strict guidelines for conducting the polls in keeping with COVID-19 protocols, the poll panel conducted elections in three phases.
While majority of the exit polls predicted victory for Tejashwi Yadav-led RJD, it was the JD(U)-BJP combine which won the battle even as RJD managed to have the highest tally in terms of number of seats with the BJP having the second largest number of seats while Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) trailed way behind.
Incidentally, NDA partner Lok Janshakti Party contested the elections alone by raising the pitch against Nitish. LJP was steered by late Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag Paswan.
Despite the winter chill and dipping mercury levels, thousands of farmers continue to stay put on the Delhi border for over three weeks now demanding a complete rollback of the farm laws promulgated by the Centre during the last Parliament session.
Three contentious laws were enacted in September to allow agri businesses to freely trade farm produce without restrictions, thereby permitting private traders to stockpile large quantities of essential commodities for future sales while spelling out new rules for contract farming.
Raising their voice against the farm laws, farmers say the reforms will render them vulnerable to exploitation by big corporates, weaken their power of bargaining and government’s Minimum Support Price system that offers cultivators assured prices.
Rejecting offers and proposals put forth by the Centre, farmers say they will help corporate players and will eventually be detrimental to the farm sector, which supports nearly half of India’s population.
At the time of filing the report, the protests were still on. The Opposition too has accused the government of running roughshod on the farmers and bulldozing their interests.