In the intricate tapestry of India’s economic landscape, the latest government survey serves as a brushstroke, delineating a transformation in consumer spending that beckons both curiosity and concern.
Cheers to another trip around the sun! The clock has struck midnight, the confetti has settled and the curtains have closed on the grand performance that was the past year. From promising to hit the gym every day (only to discover that our favourite exercise is lifting a fork) and vowing to learn a new language (hello, Duolingo owl, we meet again) to being entertained by the ever-appealing theatrics of politicians — we’ve all been there, done that. Picture it as a cosmic cabaret where personal resolutions pirouetted, occasionally stumbling over the complexities of reality. Health goals were forgotten in the tempting embrace of the couch and a tub of ice cream…
Diaries were opened, eager pens poised in anticipation, yet most pages remained woefully blank, as the chaos of life unfolded in unexpected plot twists. And then there were the politicians, the maestros of rhetoric and masters of promises. Their oratory acrobatics left audiences in awe, their commitments soaring to the heavens like fireworks, only to fizzle out in the cold reality of governance. So, as we embark on this new chapter in the book of time, let’s not just raise a toast to the arbitrary change in the calendar. Let’s raise our pens, our voices and our eyebrows in a collective nod to the year that was.
In a cosmic spectacle, India took centre stage in July, revelling in the triumph of its lunar mission.
The jubilation persisted into August as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) etched its name in history with a groundbreaking lunar landing on 23 August. With precision, Vikram Lander executed a ‘soft landing’ on the Moon’s south pole, marking India as the inaugural and sole nation to accomplish this remarkable feat. In the ongoing odyssey of space triumphs,
Aditya L1, the solar mission spearheaded by ISRO, is poised to reach the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system on 6 January.
This strategic position will afford the spacecraft an unobstructed view of the sun, free from any eclipses, as shared by ISRO chief S Somanath. Adding to the celestial narrative, India initiated the ascent of the Gaganyaan spacecraft on 21 October, marking the commencement of a series of test flights preceding its slated mission to transport astronauts into space. Gaganyaan’s goal is to launch humans into space placing them in a low earth orbit at an altitude of 400 kilometres for a three-day mission in 2025.
Guiding the course of the G20 Summit, India hosted a two-day summit in New Delhi on 9-10 September at the Bharat Mandapam.
The summit achieved milestones, including granting the African Union (AU) permanent G20 membership. The New Delhi Leaders Summit Declaration urged conflict avoidance, and the New Delhi Declaration emphasised upholding international law principles and advocating peaceful conflict resolution through diplomacy.
November 2023 carved its place in history with a monumental rescue mission in Uttarakhand
After over 400 gruelling hours, rescuers successfully reached 41 workers trapped in a collapsed tunnel. The operation tested resolve and perseverance, facing setbacks, including a drilling machine failure in the final stretch. Undeterred, 14 miners, employing the prohibited ‘rat-hole technique’ banned since 2014 by the National Green Tribunal, took charge, digging the last 12 metres to reach the trapped individuals.
Representing a noteworthy architectural milestone, India revealed its new Parliament building on 28 May, celebrated as a symbol of the nation’s culture and pride. Positioned next to the current Parliament House and built at a cost of Rs 971 crore, the new structure has the capacity to house 888 parliamentarians in the Lok Sabha and 300 in the Rajya Sabha, marking a substantial increase from the previous capacities of 543 and 250.
In the legal saga, Chief Justice DY Chandrachud-led Supreme Court upheld the central government’s Article 370 abrogation. The court mandated Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections by September 2024 and urged prompt statehood restoration. The ruling concurred with the Union’s argument, affirming Article 370’s temporary status under Part XXI of the constitution. Continuing in the legal realm, a 3:2 majority decision by a five-judge Supreme Court bench on 17 October upheld the validity of the Special Marriage Act, 1954, while rejecting the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the Supriyo @ Supriya Chakraborty v Union of India case.
The court clarified that recognising such rights or compelling Parliament to enact relevant laws is beyond its jurisdiction. However, the Centre was directed to form a cabinet committee to address the rights of homosexual couples in India.
In the ongoing winter session, a historic high of 100 Lok Sabha MPs and 46 Rajya Sabha MPs have faced suspension—the most in a single parliamentary session. This surge is linked to the Opposition’s demand for a statement on the security breach in Parliament. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge criticised the government, accusing it of undermining Parliament and democracy.
This figure exceeds the prior record of 63 Lok Sabha MPs suspended during the Eighth Lok Sabha in 1989 (when Rajiv Gandhi held the position of Prime Minister). Recently approved by the Parliament, three criminal law bills secured President Droupadi Murmu’s assent. These bills include the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, aiming to substitute the Indian Penal Code 1860; the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, intending to replace the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973; and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Sanhita, which seeks to supplant the Indian Evidence Act 1872.
India’s ICC World Cup 2023 journey was a rollercoaster of triumphs, except for the heartbreaking twist in the finals against Australia. Despite winning every prior match, the elusive victory slipped through India’s fingers, leaving a nation in cricket-induced melancholy.
In the melancholic narrative of the year 2023, tragic deaths unfurled as solemn threads, weaving a sorrowful pattern that left an ineffaceable mark on the passage of time. The weight of these losses permeates the collective consciousness, underscoring the inherent fragility of human existence.
Since 3 May, the state of Manipur has been marred by ethnic violence. The conflict unfolded between the Meitei people, predominantly residing in the Imphal Valley, and the Kuki-Zo tribal community situated in the surrounding hills. The ongoing strife has resulted in over 180 casualties and left thousands displaced.
The world bore witness to a tragic loss on 18 June when the Titan submersible, operated by OceanGate, disappeared near Newfoundland, Canada. Carrying five individuals on an exploration mission to the Titanic shipwreck site, the submersible experienced a catastrophic implosion 1 hour and 45 minutes into its descent. After a four-day search, the US Coast Guard confirmed the devastating news of all five passengers’ demise. Among the lost were British billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani-born businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and OceanGate Expeditions’ founder Stockton Rush. The remnants of the submersible were found on the seafloor, a solemn reminder of a tragic underwater expedition.
Beginning on 6 February, Turkey and Syria were shaken by a sequence of five successive earthquakes, culminating in a devastating toll of over 19,000 lives lost and tens of thousands left injured. The initial quake, with a magnitude of 7.8, originated in the Pazarcik district.
On 7 October, Hamas attacked Israeli cities, causing approximately 1,200 deaths and ceasefire agreements, the Israel-Palestine conflict continues, resulting in 20,057 Palestinians killed and 53,320 wounded, with widespread destruction and the displacement of Gaza’s majority population.
The passing of the year also marked the departure of several notable figures, including Fathima Beevi, India’s first female Supreme Court Judge; Henry Kissinger, a key architect of US Cold War Policy; MS Swaminathan, revered as the father of the Green Revolution in India; Subrata Roy, founder of the Sahara Group; SP Hinduja, former chairman of the Hinduja Group; Bollywood actor Satish Kaushik; Matthew Perry, renowned for his role as Chandler in the American sitcom Friends; Michael Gambon, acclaimed for portraying Dumbledore in later Harry Potter films; Tina Turner, often hailed as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll; Sylvester daCunha, the creative mind behind Amul’s iconic ‘Utterly Butterly’ ads, and numerous other luminaries.
The canvas of 2023 painted a mosaic of victories and sorrows, reminding us of the fragility and resilience woven into the fabric of time. As we welcome the new year, may it bring hope, healing and the fortitude to face the unknown with grace. Here’s to a 2024 filled with growth, compassion and the unfaltering spirit to navigate whatever melodies the coming days may compose. Happy New Year!