December-end is time for celebration, introspection and New Year resolutions. This article aims to introspect on the year (2013) gone by; to understand the hits and misses.
The corporate world had some interesting events that stood out. Air India, that was once the pride of the Indian skies, was in serious trouble since 2011. However, by the mid of 2013, it started showing signs of revival. But, its counterpart Kingfisher wasn’t that lucky. Inspite of repeated attempts by its flamboyant owner Vijay Mallya – the king of good times – the airline could not stay afloat and is still grounded.
The defeat of Novartis’ patent application for the cancer drug, Glivec, was considered as a win for the Indian pharmaceutical industry, by many. However, this development had some negative effects on India’s ability to attract foreign investment as it was simultaneously a defeat of the intellectual property rights.
When one talks about foreign investments, Retail FDI usually comes at the top of the mind. India opened the market for foreign retail chains in September, 2012. However, due to policy flip-flops, there were no takers for the USD 500 billion industry even by the middle of 2013. It is only recently that the UPA-II government has taken some proactive steps that has enthused some confidence in foreign investors across industries. Singapore Airlines, Air Asia, Etihad and Tesco are some of the foreign players that are showing interest in the country.
Another corporate event that took the nation by surprise was the return of NR Narayana Murthy to Infosys. This event showed the succession planning of the company in poor light, raising concerns that the company’s fortunes could be dependent on one person. Rohan Murthy’s entry into the company that claimed to not encourage family members, added insult to the injury.
After every few years, the corporate world gets marred by some big scam and this year was no different. The NSDL fiasco may have caught many investors unawares, but this was not the first and sadly, not the last time. The corporate think-tanks do not seem to learn lessons every time.
If the corporate world was full of twists and turns, the political arena was not to be left behind. The common man came to the centre-stage with flying colours through Arvind Kejriwal. This year was also all about the rise and rise of Narendra Modi, despite immense opposition from some big shots in his party. These two developments can be considered as watershed events in the history of Indian politics; events that can have a huge impact on its future.
India’s international policy was as meek as ever when it came to Pakistan and China inspite of their repeated cross-border violations. However, the stand that India took in the recent case of ill-treatment meted out to Devyani Khobragade, an Indian diplomat in the US, took many by surprise. Over all, India’s international relations policy remained more or less the same.
This year would also be considered special because of two men – Rahguram Rajan and Sachin Tendulkar. The former was appointed as the new RBI Governor and hasn’t stopped making news since then. Interestingly and surprisingly, he is the only Governor of the RBI who has made some news for his looks as well, a first in more ways than one. This year would always be remembered by cricket fans because of the announcement of Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement. For the millions of cricket fans in India, the world of cricket would be divided into pre-Sachin and post-Sachin eras, and the year 2013 would hold special significance.
The nation has always been proud of the Supreme Court’s rulings. However, the recent ruling against the decriminalization of same sex marriages, shook the confidence of many in the institution. What made it even worse, for many, was that the Supreme Court left the fate of case in the hands of the Parliament, an institution that doesn’t evoke much hope anyway.
There were some stand-alone events as well that would make 2013 memorable. One name that shook the entire world was that of Edward Snowden. Edward leaked information about the US surveillance programmes that intruded into the privacy of many across the world. This revelation had a ripple effect in India as well with India’s Centralized Monitoring System (CMS) also coming under the scanner. Sadly, not much has changed after the initial brouhaha.
India also sent out its last telegram this year, putting an end to a service that had been serving Indians for over 160 years.
Over all, one can say that 2013 was an eventful year that had some hits, some misses; some successes, some failures; and some hope, some despair. India is a land of many dichotomies. If 2013 had the poor handling of the Uttarakhand floods, there was the adept handling of the cyclone Phailin in Orissa. If there was the successful launch of India’s first inter-planetary Mars Orbiter Mission, there were numerous assaults on women and children. If there was the victory of truth and honesty by the Aam Aadmi Party, there was the defeat of the country by numerous scams. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it beautifully depicts the reality of our country, India – the land of contradictions.
Here’s wishing all the readers a very Happy New Year, and hoping that 2014 would bring in more hope than despair; more wins than losses; more truth than lies; and more positives than negatives. As Albert Einstein once famously said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.” So let’s introspect on 2013, celebrate today, and make some New Year resolutions for 2014. Happy New Year!
(Shobhika Puri is a freelance writer)