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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Flip side: Persons of the year

As 2014 fades it’s a time to remember those who did their bit towards making it a year to remember.

Written by Dilip Bobb |
Updated: December 21, 2014 12:00:26 am
Ironically, the question mark over Modi’s reaction to all this was similar to the one discredited to Manmohan Singh — silence and absence at key moments. Ironically, the question mark over Modi’s reaction to all this was similar to the one discredited to Manmohan Singh — silence and absence at key moments.

As 2014 fades into memory, much like a once dominant political party, it’s an appropriate time to remember those who did their bit towards making it a year to remember. As in every saga, there are minor and major players, but each role is part of the whole, and a pointer to the shape of 2015. Here, in no particular order, are the persons of the year.

Devyani Khobragade: For the arrested development that led to a diplomatic row between India and the US, leading to undiplomatic exchanges to do with racial discrimination and visa fraud, all over the salary of a domestic help. The Indian foreign service retaliated by investigating salaries of all domestic help, including gardeners, employed by the US consulates in India — a strip search of another kind. By year-end, Khobragade was back to being persona non grata, this time by her own ministry, as she continued to look for a suitable opening. In the US, they call it a cavity search.

Manmohan Singh: For making silence a prime ministerial tool. It prised him out of the PM’s chair in May when he and his party crashed to earth with a loud bang. During his second term, Singh had behaved like the Invisible Man, so when he did leave office, not many actually noticed or mourned his absence since the public had got so used to it. Absence did not make the collective heart grow fonder thanks to a tell-all book which revealed that as PM, he followed strict Gandhian values, or valued the Gandhis, depending on how strict the strictures were.

Narendra Modi: From demon to saviour and then saffron Superman, it has been a huge leap of faith for the current Prime Minister considering the faith that voters have in him to perform miracles — anything short of walking on water. Even that may happen once the Ganga has been cleaned, another miracle, but he’s clearly a man on a mission, from Swachh Bharat, to Make in India and bank accounts for those with no money. However, by year-end, the aura was starting to fade a bit as saffron outfits and its leaders mistook triumphalism for patriotism. Ironically, the question mark over Modi’s reaction to all this was similar to the one discredited to Manmohan Singh — silence and absence at key moments, prompting one MP to remind him, somewhat snidely, that he did not need a visa to enter Parliament.

Mamata Banerjee: For keeping the country entertained with a mixture of bravado and bluster, and her explosive temperament, especially after the explosions in Burdwan and the Saradha scam allegedly involving some of her MPs. Her critics accused her of being over-sensitive, pointing to her vitriolic attacks on the BJP government, illustrated by some crude gestures to mimic the act of inserting a bamboo into a sensitive area. Having decimated the Left, she now threatens to do the same to the Right. This will require her to be politically dextrous. Or ambidextrous.

Chandra Prakash Kaushik: For distorting history and demanding that busts of Nathuram Godse be installed across India because he was “a patriot and a martyr” compared to the man he killed — Mahatma Gandhi, “who played a very minor role in our freedom struggle”. It is a real struggle to free ourselves from such headline seekers (he is the head of the Hindu Mahasabha) who seek to turn history on its head.

The Indian cricket team: For collectively proving that it is possible to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And to do so consistently. Going down under has acquired a new meaning.

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