Among the biggest controversies of 2018 in India that went undebated concerned itself with the bombing of Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan-starrer ‘Thugs of Hindustan!’
Okay, enough, let’s get serious. There’s a life outside films, no? And this concerns the fate of the nation as a whole, not represented through parts.
Controversy, controversy everywhere, not a single day of peace to see! But let’s get real. There were, indeed, peaceful days, in many parts of the country.
So while it wasn’t that each and every day in the life of the country was mired in some controversy, what really were those issues that engulfed India?
2018 is coming to an end. Not a news you’d want to know if you are still among deadlines, with the phone buzzing and the unanswered e-mails begging for your attention. Not a news you’d like to know if you are still hours away from home, where a party awaits you and all you have around is a three-letter word that doesn’t distinguish between any Indian anywhere: jam!
But that told, with a new year approaching on the horizon, how would you define your 2018? How good a year was it; what all did you get around to achieve? While we can all answer for ourselves, what about the nation?
Truth be told since there’s no specific answer that can sufficiently explain the level of controversy India found itself battling, here’s a point that begs debate.
Could it be that the year was among the most controversial in the recent history of the world’s largest democracy?
Let us visit some of the biggest controversies in India of 2018 and figure, what say?
The fall of the Indian Rupee vs the Dollar
Economists had a view on it, but obviously. So did the investment bankers and start-up entrepreneurs, and above, also the students of journalism and those concerned with economic and political affairs of the country.
But what was most interesting about the debate surrounding the fall of the Indian rupee vis-a-vis the US dollar was that it drew a response from the last mile of the town, say a gas-station worker as well as from those who were hearing terms like Urban Naxalites in a Delhi or Mumbai for the first time in a row.
Among the biggest controversies of 2018 in India was the sheer shock value that the falling value that the Indian rupee commanded when compared to the US dollar.
The rupee had actually slumped to an all-time record low of 71 against the dollar, by falling 26 paise on persistent demand for the US currency during rising crude prices. The date was August 31, 2018.
A nation was in shock. Among the easiest reasons to identify behind this sudden plummeting was that the United States is now trying incessantly to build up pressure on its allies to stop buying oil from Iran.
The country has actively pursued the same agenda since November 2017.
As a result, the spike in the oil prices pulled down the rupee and pushed up the dollar demand.
The Rage Surrounding Padmavat Controversy
India is a sensitive nation, according to some.
India is a reactive country according to most others.
Truth certainly is that India doesn’t shy away from expressing itself on matters that concern subjects like its values, beliefs, cultural aspects, and perhaps in the wake of artistic expression, possibly threaten to disorient or misrepresent a part of its culture.
Now, whether one decides to blame it by saying India’s people are sensitive, reactionary or over-reactionary or not holds key to understand the fuss about Padmavat.
As a film, highly successful, telling and beautifully treated where artistic expressions were concerned, the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film- what are our chances of surviving if we call it magnum opus- managed to draw the ire of the Rajputs in Rajasthan for potentially picking on a sensitive subject area, the bedazzling beautiful and integral Rani Padmavat from the bygone era.
Buses were burnt, protests became regular, India engaged in an endless diatribe of verbal diarrhoea and, the usual threats were issued against actors starring in a highly captivating film that threatened to tamper with the realities as they were (according to popular belief and remnants of factual history) vis-a-vis the liberties the film eventually took to show.
#MeToo In India
Probably, it may not be wrong to say that if there was one among the biggest controversies of 2018 that actually helped to identify and underline the plight of the sufferers, that it came to effect, then it was the #MeToo campaign, that spread like a wild-fire in 2018, having emerged, fundamentally in the United States.
That a woman is often subjected to sexual harassments, whether in the workplace or anywhere where her integrity comes to be challenged by uncouth men, is known and has been for quite some time.
But that the affected women and their pulverized souls haven’t always found justice was a reality challenged by the #MeToo campaign, whose essential core was for women of the world- wherever they may be- come together to raise a voice of concern about the ills that occurred to them.
In India, where the matter spread like a contagion and even managed to birth a potentially- endless debate as seen in the Tanushree Dutta versus Nana Patekar row.
The social-media-driven campaign helped identify monsters in the guise of men who were named vehemently on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, for having assaulted the integrity of women.
Above anything, this campaign helped underline, once again, the very fact that women are still very much susceptible to falling prey to the uninitiated advances of men and other issues that pose a direct threat at their integrity.
More power to the women of the world!
CBI vs CBI
Who does an average Indian or the country as a whole look up to in times of trouble and when mired by some massive controversy that needs the nation to investigate?
You guessed it right, it’s not any superbly directed Netflix series; it’s eminent investigation agencies like the CBI. But what is one to do when not one but two experienced men of one of India’s premier investigation agency prepare for a tug of war?
Special Director Rakesh Asthana to Cabinet Secretary and other Govt. offices against Director, CBI, Mr Alok Verma. He then accused the director of taking a bribe in the Moin Qureshi case. The Cabinet Secretary marked the case to the Chief Vigilance Commissioner to conduct the enquiry.
On the other side, one of the accused, Mr Satish Sanababu, alleged to have bribed the director (as per Mr Rakesh Asthana, Special Director) actually gave a statement in the court that he has been blackmailed and paid a sum of INR 3 crores to Mr Asthana. And thus, the whole issue burst into flames, leaving the country scratching its head as to who was right and wasn’t.
Harmanpreet vs Mandhana
Just when it seemed all was well with the Indian cricket team, a family of sorts that represents some of the finest cricketers currently in the international game, it appeared that all wasn’t well, after all.
Who would have thought that the two leading lights of the Indian Women’s Cricket team would find themselves in news headlines but pitted against each other?
In the recently-held ICC Women’s World T20, in the West Indies, there emerged a strange spectacle of sorts.
Mithali Raj echoed a concern; that she wasn’t treated well and with the respect a player of her stature warrants. This became known through a letter addressed to the BCCI where she highlighted a principal element that caused her this grief: Ramesh Powar, the then, coach of the national side.
At the same time, the captain of the T20 side, Harmanpreet Kaur, also made headlines.
While the feud was between Mithali and Romesh Powar as it appeared, Harman, among the finest hitters of the cricket ball, found herself in the eye of the storm.
As a result, applications for a fresh coach for Indian Women’s team were invited and, so far, how the dynamic of the two cricketers pans out, can only be seen once India prepare to take on New Zealand in 2019.