Hare Krishna !
2015 draws to a close, 2016 will shortly be upon us.
Looking through the kaleidoscope of events as they happened, 2015 has not been a good year for most, if not all, countries across the world. With a prayer of hope that 2016 be a far better year than this one of tumultuous events and sordid happenings, many world leaders felt 2015 leave a very marked impression on their minds. There was a cry from all parts of the world and echoed at the recently concluded Paris summit about the alarming rate at which global warming was progressing and the need for prudence in a common agenda to halt its progress. The ISIS threat to move forward from Syria and strike in other parts of the world, was demonstrated in a gruesome and macabre slaughter of 130 plus innocent people killed and hundreds wounded in Paris just before the environment summit, in retaliation for the Syrian bombings by the allied forces.
Since May 2014 PM Modi and India have been noticed and taken cognizance of, by leading powers of the world and become a vision of hope for many a developing country and the underdeveloped ones. In 2015 PM Modi has paved the way for future ties and good relationships with the promise of making the Make in India dream come true for his fellow Indians.
With visits to 25 countries across the world in the span of 10 months, the last being Afghanistan, it could have earned him the epithet ‘A globetrotter with a mission’. In fact Prime Minister Modi with his dynamism and fresh approach, has taken world leaders aback and charmed them with his unusual and affable ways of greeting and engaging.
The shining face of India
India has seen very many sparks and flashes of brilliance in 2015. Sparks of Hope, flashes of brilliance, light to brighten our lives in 2016. Some bright sparks of this year have been:
- AVATAR, a concept for amanned single-stage reusable space plane capable of horizontal takeoff and landing, by India's Defence Research and Development Organization along with Indian Space Research Organization and other research institutions has been enthusiastically taken up. The mission concept is for low cost military and commercial satellite space launches, as well as for space tourism. The first scaled-down tests were successfully carried out in 2015, and the first manned AVATAR flight is proposed for 2025.
- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015, the proposed Actof the Parliament of India, that aims to replace the existing the Indian juvenile delinquency law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, so that juveniles in conflict with Law in the age group of 16–18, involved in Heinous Offences, can be tried as adults. It was passed on 7 May 2015 by the Lok Sabha amid intense protest by several Members of Parliament. Thank God, it got passed on 22 December 2015 by the Rajya Sabha, primarily on the repeated requests of Nirbhaya’s parents who did not get justice for their daughter but got solace that other Nirbhayas could benefit.
- PM Modi got kudos and a pat on the back for a remarkably well organized India – Africasummit where all African continent leaders were invited and most turned up. Terming them as bright spots of hope and economic opportunity, India has offered technology and credit to match rival China at a summit with more than 40 African leaders.
- OROP (one rank one pension), the long standing demand of ex-servicemen before the government for implementation has been quite a drama: prolonged protests, followed by a decision on OROP announced by the government, its rejection by the ex-servicemen, and again a renegotiation between the two sides. Finally, a government order, while protests continue. At least there is a certainty that it will see the light of the day soon. The Seventh Pay Commission would also be implemented in 2016 is certain. So a huge relief for those eagerly awaiting it.
- The Bangkok meet between foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, the personal visit of Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan and meeting the Pakistan PM and other leaders while attending the Afghan summit held there and PM Modi’s sudden stopover at Pakistan en-route home from Afghanistan to wish PM Nawaz Sharif on his birthday have been good for the sub-continent by way of a thaw in India – Pakistan relations and tremendous improvement in the atmosphere that is congenial to say the least. This promises the way forward despite hardliners still skeptical about how long it will last.
- There is news also to cheer loudly. Manoj Bhargava, Indian-born businessman and philanthropist has this to offer. Pedaling for an hour on Manoj Bhargava's 'Free Electric' hybrid bike can supply 24 hours of electricity for a rural household.
In a world where up to half of the population either has no access to electricity whatsoever, or only severely limited access, a home energy device powered by humans could have a big impact in the developing world, and one philanthropist is willing to put his money where his mouth is in order to potentially change the lives of billions.
Bhargava also founded the Billions in Change movement, which aims "to build a better future by creating and implementing solutions to serious problems facing the world in the areas of water, energy and health." in fact there are several innovations that have the potential to make a very real impact on the lives of many, including a stationary bike generator, a new medical device, a new take on geothermal energy, and a method of producing potable water at scale.
Hiccups that have also highlighted the causes of concern in 2015
- Parliament sessions have been a total wash-out with the Congress and other opposition parties creating disturbance and walking out without legitimate cause and offering flimsy grounds as justification and the GST (Goods and Services Tax) Bill that was to have been passed was pushed aside. In fact hardly any bills of serious note could be taken up in the Rajya Sabha which prevented their passage further. Does it augur well for India with bills for unemployment of youth, investment opportunities, welfare schemes and a whole lot other issues for development being held at ransom?
- Floods have been a dominant cause for a vast area in Assam to be inundated, the people displaced, left homeless, with many of the affected still feeling the effects of the disaster and remaining miserable. The J & K flood victims got their slight relief just recently after hue and cry. But in early December the flooding of Chennai and the surrounding parts due to unprecedented rain shook India. The city is still limping back to normal living, many parts still being cleared of filth, slush and other unwanted debris, this despite the heroic efforts of the three forces and a youthful brigade of volunteers from all quarters of the city. Unplanned and often illegal urban development has led to many wetlands and natural sinks being built over. Along with ageing civic infrastructure and poorly designed drainage systems, it resulted in an increased severity of flooding.
- India relatively has not been that much affected by terrorism this year except for the Gurdaspur, Punjab, and Kupwara, J & K terror attacks apart from the routine cross border skirmishes. In recent times even that has stopped, thanks to the political efforts of Modi & team. In fact PM Modi has brought the issue at the forefront of discussions and action plans at global forums, with the Indian perspective having a lot many backers and voices of support.
- Environment has certainly been a spoiler for one and all and the Paris summit concluded recently got an agreement with all nations attending to address issues concerning the environment and its pollution in a comprehensive and collective manner. India with a WHO report showing many cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi and others in the top polluted cities of the nation, if not the world, promises a more aggressive Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan for the government. Let us hope for the best.