2007: Scramble of events

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Remember how did we begin 2007!!!

…Reading and watching stories of two cannibals living in Nithari village on the outskirts of Indian capital New Delhi!!

…Do you remember that children’s bones, skulls, clothing, shoes, tiffin boxes coming from the murky depths of a village sap were the front-page ‘items’ in our newspapers; while beautiful, albeit inexperienced, TV anchors chilled the world with gory details of the decomposed remains of the raped and murdered.

Since then, much water has flown down the Nithari drain and while blogging off for 2007, I feel ashamed to note that India has let its children down as investigations in the slayings of innocent children seem to be going nowhere. I feel sorry for the victims of Nithari; I feel sorry for the affected families; and all were very poor people.

Even the Nobel Peace Prize for Rajendra Pachauri of IPCC cannot be considered compensation to India’s image, though it did bring glory for an Indian; and that too an environmentalist.

Adding to this glory, Indian businessmen – particularly Tatas, Ambanis and Mittals – got distinctions across the globe. However, the poorly executed special economic zones or SEZs on the Indian soil became the biggest land grab of the modern times. Consequently, another village – this time near the ‘City of Joy’ Kolkata – became the next black spot in 2007. At Nandigram, several innocent people were mercilessly killed by government-sponsored goons for no reasons – a reminder to Jalianwala Bagh in the colonial India.

Shilpa Shetty in Big Brother
Shilpa Shetty in Big Brother

Among the Bollywood faces, 2007 was good only for its ‘C’ grade actor Shilpa Shetty, who won the British celebrity show Big Brother, though she was virtually unknown in Britain until then. Thereafter, back home, it was shocking to watch Shetty enjoying a kiss in public by ageing Hollywood star Richard Gere. Certainly, you do not do this after inspiring thousands across the world.

Another woman, Indian-American Sunita Williams, dominated news in the year gone by. On a visit to India after her record space flight, this astronaut captured hearts with her remarks: “Looking at earth from space makes one understand the oneness of humanity… and that all boundaries are man-made… a fact that some astute men like Mahatma Gandhi have understood in their own mind without having to see from space.”

Pooja Chauhan, Rajkot, protesting in extreme anger
Pooja Chauhan, Rajkot, protesting in extreme anger

Two more Indian women deserve mention when we talk about 2007. First – Pooja Chauhan, 22, who walked through the streets of Rajkot only in undergarments to protest in-law abuse for delivering a girl child. The second being Pratibha Patil, who became the first woman President of India. Great achievement!!!

2007 gave our cricket-crazy nation a big surprise in young captain M.S.Dhoni whose Team India stunned the world by winning the first 20-20 championship. In other disciplines, Indian Hockey and Football teams, Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, Tennis Sensation Sania Mirza, Speedo Narain Karthikeyan and Shuttling Success Anup Sridhar received deserving coverage throughout the year. Chak De!!! Chak De India!!!

As we discuss 2007, two typical Indian fathers — Ashok Todi and Chiranjivee — need special mention. Their actions sparked a national cry. Industrialist Todi got Rizwan, a young Muslim man, killed for marrying his daughter; while mega star Chiranjivee threatened his daughter Srija for marrying a man of her choice. Initially, both these family matters started as personal affairs but took many turns in its course from ‘family trouble’ to ‘state-level public issue’ to ‘national level debate’.

Coming to politics, the two key players of Indian politics – Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi hardly did anything other than discussing ‘deal or no deal’ over the nuclear table. Instead, two other political figures – Mayawati and Narendra Modi – invited maximum hits as they packed down their opponents in prestigious states of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat respectively to top popularity graphs. Most of the political events in the New Year would be revolving around them. Believe me.

At last, I think I shouldn’t be protective about my fellow journalists who got thoroughly exposed in 2007. A sting operation conducted by some overenthusiastic colleagues turned out to be a stink operation. The sting misfired like an unguided missile, losing track of why it was fired in the first place. There was no evidence against the sting victim, a lady teacher in Delhi, while the entire show appeared to be frame-up and was motivated by a desire for cheap publicity on the part of a TV channel.

In this photo published by The New York Times, a confident Anushika Pradhan is seen tending bar at the Dublin Pub in the Maurya Sheraton Hotel in New Delhi, India.
In this photo published by The New York Times, a confident Anushika Pradhan is seen tending bar at the Dublin Pub in the Maurya Sheraton Hotel in New Delhi, India.

FINAL WORDS: New Year parties in Delhi are expected to be jazzier beginning the night of December 31, 2007, as, for the first time, women bartenders will serve drinks at parties across the national capital. Thanks to a 2007 Supreme Court order enabling women bartenders to cater to guests. Good Judgment! After all, women are much safer behind the bar counter rather than in front of it.

“In overturning a 1914 law that prohibited women from tending bar here in the capital, the Supreme Court of India … not only raised a glass to changing social mores in this country, but also gave Indian women access to one of the most lucrative jobs in the new economy,” noted The New York Times.

A report in this regard, appeared in The Hindu that read:

The Court was dealing with the constitutional validity of Section 30 of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914, as applicable to the NCT of Delhi prohibiting employment of men aged below 25 and women as bartenders.

The Delhi government cited the examples of Jessica Lal and BMW cases to highlight the dangerous consequences of sale and consumption of liquor by young men aged below 25 and vulnerability of women working in bars. Rejecting the contention, the Bench of Justice S. B. Sinha and Justice H. S. Bedi said: “When the restrictions were in force, they could not prevent such occurrences. If the restriction goes, some such incidents may again happen. But only on a pre-supposition that there is a possibility of some incident happening, we cannot declare a lawintra vires which is ex-facie ultra vires.”

Wishing you a very happy new year. Welcome 2008.

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