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India 2011: A visual history of the year


2011 was marked by ups and downs, gains and losses, fear and despair, joy and triumph. This year, he was forced to break the allegations of corruption without fear. This year, in January Lokpal Bill. During the year we were reminded that a life of terrorism, we must control. Cup this year, he returned home. Send us your photos, watching the events that shaped India in 2011.

Panic God?

2011 was marked by ups and downs, gains and losses, fear and despair, joy and triumph. This year, he was forced to break the allegations of corruption without fear. This year, in January Lokpal Bill. During the year we were reminded that a life of terrorism, we must control. Cup this year, he returned home. Send us your photos, watching the events that shaped India in 2011.

On the night of January 14, pilgrims flocking to the hill shrine of Swami Ayyappan in Sabarimala, Kerala, were returning after witnessing the Makara Jyothi, believed to be a celestial phenomenon, when a stampede broke out in mysterious circumstances. One version of the story maintains that an SUV broke down amid the crowd of people that was trying to catch a bus and toppled over, while another holds that a collision between an autorickshaw and another vehicle triggered the stampede. Either way, it turned out to be the most horrific freak accident involving Sabarimala pilgrims in recent times, with 104 lives lost and nearly as many pilgrims injured. The dead and injured hailed from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. This was the third accident to occur during the Makara Jyothi festival and raised questions about the effective management of crowds by police and the temple authorities. About 50 million pilgrims visit Sabarimala every year in India’s largest annual pilgrimage

Even a Raja must bow to the law

The arrest of Andimuthu Raja by the Central Bureau of Investigation February 2 marked a significant turn in the investigation into the 2G spectrum scam. During Raja’s tenure as Cabinet Minister for Communication and Information Technology in 2007-08, the government issued 122 new telecom licenses. These licenses were acquired in violation of rules and provisions. Bribes were paid to favor certain players who had suppressed facts, had no experience in the telecom sector, or were otherwise ineligible to be awarded licenses. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s report held Raja accountable for the sale of 2G spectrum at 2001 rates in 2008. Despite the overwhelming demand for Raja’s ouster, he clung on with support from party chief M Karunanidhi. Eventually, he resigned from the Union Cabinet in November 2010. In 2011, an investigation headed by retired judge Shivraj Patil found Raja guilty of “procedural lapses” in the sale of 2G spectrum. The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate further estimated that Raja had amassed up to Rs 3,000 crore in bribes. Raja’s dubious achievement made the cover story of TIME magazine, which ranked the 2G spectrum scam just after Watergate on the list of “Top 10 Abuses of Power”.

This time for Sachin
When India opened its 2011 ICC World Cup campaign, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni declared that he wanted to win the coveted trophy for the tournament’s most seasoned campaigner, Sachin Tendulkar. Though India opened its account with an emphatic win over co-hosts Bangladesh, the rest of the tournament turned into an anxious roller-coaster ride as India salvaged only a tie against England and lost to South Africa. Eventually, India demolished sworn rivals Pakistan in a thrilling semi-final at Mohali and beat Sri Lanka in the final at Mumbai. For Tendulkar, who scored 482 runs in the tournament, the cricket-besotted nation’s moment of glory was extra-sweet. Cricket’s cup of cheer had finally come home after 28 years.
Soldier of conscience

Social activist and anti-corruption crusader Kisan Baburao Hazare, popularly known as Anna Hazare, became the face of a momentous public campaign to revive the Jan Lokpal Bill. Also known as the Citizen’s Ombudsman Bill, the first Jan Lokpal Bill was introduced by advocate Shanti Bhushan in 1968 and introduced in the fourth Lok Sabha the following year. Though the Bill was tabled subsequently on nine occasions, it was never passed. Forty-two years after its introduction, the campaign for the Bill’s revival in 2011 has been accompanied by a groundswell of public support. Drafted by former Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, the Bill was championed by Hazare, yoga guru Baba Ramdev, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan (son of the Bill’s first campaigner), RTI campaigner Arvind Kejriwal and others. The Government of India, which rejected the Hazare camp’s draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill, introduced a revised Bill for the tenth time during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament. In response Hazare announced that he will go on an indefinite fast from August 16 in protest against the government’s tabling of a “weak” Bill.

The people’s doctor walks free

Dr Binayak Sen, pediatrician, public health activist and national vice president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties who was accused of sedition by the Chhattisgarh government, was granted bail by the Supreme Court of India. Sen had been working in the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh offering free public healthcare. The doctor, who had worked with the government on health sector reform, strongly criticized its anti-Naxalite operations for human rights violation. In May 2007 he was arrested for his alleged support of the outlaws under evidence of his meetings with Naxalite leaders. The global community including a section of the medical fraternity expressed outrage at Sen’s imprisonment while human rights watchdogs condemned it as a politically motivated move. Amnesty International described Sen as a prisoner of conscience and said his incarceration amounted to contravention of human rights and international law. Nobel laureates from around the world wrote to the President of India and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as well as the Chhattisgarh state government, pleading for Sen’s release. Though the doctor was granted bail in 2009, he was charged with sedition in 2010 in Raipur and kept in solitary confinement. April 15, the Supreme Court of India granted bail to Binayak Sen, rejecting the charges of sedition against him.

Sathya Sai Baba attains samadhi

AFP PHOTO/ Dibyangshu Sarkar

Sathya Sai Baba counted among his devotees India’s most influential politicians (including former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee), sportspersons (including Sachin Tendulkar), industrialists and film personalities. Hailed as a godman by his followers, who by some estimates number nearly 100 million all over the world, he became an icon for spirituality, philanthropy and education. Puttaparthi, the small Andhra Pradesh town where he was born Sathyanarayana Raju in 1926, became a magnet for his flock. Here, Sai Baba established a charitable multi-specialty hospital, schools, an airport and a university. Controversy over his powers to materialize foodstuff, gold and other objects from thin air made him the target of rationalists who ascribed such phenomena to sleight of hand and mass hysteria of enraptured devotees. In later years, his establishment came under attack over allegations of sexual abuse. However, no charges were framed. Sathya Sai Baba, who claimed to be a reincarnation of the mystic Sai Baba of Shirdi who died eight years before he was born, had predicted his own death in 2019 but died this year on April 24. He had also predicted that he would reincarnate in 2023 in a Karnataka village, though his followers believe he might return as early as next year. Following his death, his trust has been embroiled in controversy over alleged unaccounted wealth. In three rounds of inventory, nearly Rs 59 crore worth of gold, silver and cash have been recovered from various institutions under the Sathya Sai Trust.

Game’s up for Kalmadi

When Suresh Kalmadi pulled off the controversy-dogged Commonwealth Games in Delhi last year, he perhaps imagined that the worst was behind him. As chairman of the Organizing Committee he was accused of doling out contracts to favored parties at exorbitant rates. An Indian Air Force pilot decorated with eight medals during his career, he joined politics after an early retirement and became president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Youth Congress. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Pune in 1996 and 2004 (previously, he had served three Rajya Sabha terms from 1982 to 1996 and subsequently in 1998) and served as Minister for Railways from 1995 to 1996 in the cabinet of former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao. Kalmadi was chairman of the Indian Olympic Association for four terms. Calls for his arrest grew louder after reports of irregularities in the award of contracts for the 2010 Commonwealth Games flooded the media. At the CWG closing ceremony Kalmadi was booed by spectators and sidelined by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. He was also not invited to the Prime Minister’s ceremony to honor Indian athletes after the Games. The Central Vigilance Commission ordered an inquiry into Kalmadi’s alleged irregularities though he claimed to be innocent. In November he was dismissed as Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party. April 25, the CBI arrested Kalmadi for awarding illegal contracts to a Swiss firm for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, incurring losses to the national exchequer amounting to Rs 95 crore. The Congress Party suspended his membership and he was sacked as President of the Indian Olympic Association. Kalmadi is currently lodged in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail where controversy keeps up with him.

A wind of change named Didi

AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu Sarkar


A former Congress party worker, Mamata Banerjee served as a minister of state under Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao in 1991 and resigned over differences with the party’s image in 1993. In 1997 she broke away to establish the All India Trinamool Congress, which became a thorn in the flesh of the incumbent Communist Party of India (Marxist), which had retained West Bengal under its charismatic ideologue Jyoti Basu from 1977 to 2000, and thereafter under chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya until 2011. Banerjee, who served two terms as Union Railway Minister – first under the NDA coalition led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and later in the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh – set the ball rolling by appeasing her home state with her railway policies. After TMC suffered setbacks in 2005, she focused on state politics and the party made inroads by winning the 2009 municipal elections in Kolkata and thereafter performed well in the 2009 parliamentary elections. Banerjee continued to heckle the CPI(M) government over industrialization policies, first forcing the Tata group to abandon its proposed project at Singur and subsequently opposing the creation of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Nandigram until it was shelved. July 21, her party swept into power in West Bengal, ending the CPI(M)’s 34-year rule. Didi, as she is known to her people, was sworn in as Chief Minister on May 20.

It’s Amma once more

AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu Sarkar


The arrest of former telecom minister A Raja in the 2G spectrum scam broke the back of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu and weakened its hold at the centre. To boot, wheelchair-bound paterfamilias M Karunanidhi’s peace had been unsettled by his warring sons Stalin and Alagiri, estranged nephews Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi, and his imprisoned daughter Kanimozhi. With the DMK being its own undertaker, the stage was set for J Jayalalithaa to breeze in for a third term as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Amma, as she is known to her followers, has previously held the post twice under the banner of the AIADMK, the party founded by her political mentor and former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran. The Tamil cinema idol and the former actress shared a vibrant onscreen chemistry for many years.
India’s Picasso dies in exile

AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

In his lifetime Maqbool Fida Husain courted celebrity, controversy and Bollywood’s most beauteous women. India’s most celebrated painter rose to fame in the 1940s, when at 25 he joined the Progressive Artists’ Group founded by Francis Newton Souza and exhibited solo at Zurich, Switzerland. In 2008, his diptych Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabharata 12 fetched a record-smashing $1.6 million at Christies. Also reputed as a printmaker, photographer and filmmaker, Husain made four films including Gaja Gamini (with muse Madhuri Dixit) and Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities (inspired by actor Tabu). His paintings depicting Mother India and Hindu goddesses in the nude invited the wrath of right-wing groups and a slew of court cases. Hounded, he sought refuge in Qatar and renounced his Indian citizenship. Husain, who had been decorated with the Padma Shri and the Padma Vibhushan among other awards, expressed a strong desire to return to his homeland despite the arrest warrants pending against him. Those wishes remained unfulfilled when he died in London June 9, aged 95. Upon his death fellow painter Akbar Padamsee remarked, “It’s a pity that a painter as important as Husain had to die outside his own country because of a crowd of miscreants.”

Who owns the temple jewels?

AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi

The discovery of precious stones, jewelry and valuables from five secret chambers around the sanctum sanctorum of Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala triggered a nationwide debate when it was announced that the wealth amounted to approximately Rs 1 trillion ($22 billion), making the temple the richest religious institution in India. The six vaults, which had not been opened in about 150 years, are believed to contain treasure dating back 500 years. The Supreme Court ordered the vaults of the temple to be inventoried after a petitioner filed a suit raising doubts over how the trust overseeing the temple’s management would take responsibility for the treasure. One of the vaults, as yet unopened, is believed to contain unaccounted wealth. The panel auditing the vault encountered an iron wall with a lock fashioned like a snake, triggering fears that opening it might incur the deity’s wrath. Its opening has been stayed by the Supreme Court on a plea filed by the legal heir of the royal family of Travancore, which has traditionally controlled the management of the temple as servants of the presiding deity, Sree Padmanabha. The Supreme Court stayed a ruling by the Kerala High Court, which ordered the state government to take over the temple and its assets. The case has reignited legal debate surrounding heritage treasure in India, as under present provisions any right to treasure of heritage value rests with the central government. While some politicians have argued that the treasure should be used to revive the cash-strapped state economy, experts contend that it should be preserved in a museum in or outside the temple premises

It’s official: India has 17 percent of earthlings

As of March 31, India’s population went up to 1.21 billion. Second only to China in number of people, India now has 17.5 percent of the world’s people occupying 2.4 percent of the planet’s surface area. India added 181 million people since 2001 (approximately the population of Brazil) and Uttar Pradesh alone has 200 million people. By 2030, India is expected to overtake China, raising concerns over employment, political instability and access to resources such as water, food, real estate and energy.

70 die, 300 hurt in year’s worst train accident

Fatehpur, about 150 km south of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, saw the worst train accident of the year on July 10. Fifteen coaches of the Delhi-bound Howrah-Kalka Mail, which was traveling at 108 kmph, derailed killing a total of 70 people and injuring 300. Then Railway Minister Mukul Roy refused to heed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s instruction to visit the sites of the accidents (another train derailment following a bomb blast in Guwahati claimed one life and injured 40 people). Roy, who is from the Trinamool Congress headed by Mamata Banerjee, was reported as saying, “There is no need for me to go now.” He was replaced by Dinesh Dwivedi, who rushed to Fatehpur hours after taking over the portfolio

Mumbai relives terror nightmare

AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

It took the worst kind of wake-up call imaginable to make the gaping holes in Mumbai’s security preparedness embarrassingly public. The July 13 serial blasts at the Opera House, Zaveri Bazaar and Dadar West localities of India’s most populous city left 26 people dead and 130 injured. The ninth terror attack targeting the city since 1993 reignited acrimonious debate over national security policy. While it brought back the ghosts of 26/11, it also sent other Indian metros, which have been terrorist targets in the last decade, into a tizzy of panic and provoked questions on the readiness of our cities to defend themselves against future attacks

Yeddy, unsteady… go!

AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi

After surviving numerous attempts to unseat him from power, and keeping his detractors and party bosses guessing for months on end, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa finally stepped down on July 31. His exit came in the wake of a report by an anti-corruption panel led by former Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde that indicted the chief minister, former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and serving ministers in an enormous bribery scandal involving the granting of mining contracts. A recalcitrant Yeddyurappa, who refused to step down until forced to do so by the BJP top brass, called the shots even on his way out: He played a key role in instating his successor Sadananda Gowda

2 comments on “India 2011: A visual history of the year

  1. Health Tips
    August 14, 2011

    This is a smart blog. I mean it. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from the responses. Youve got a design here thats not too flashy, but makes a statement as big as what youre saying. Great job, indeed.

  2. Krystina Liem
    August 14, 2011

    Took me a while to read all the posts, but I really enjoyed the write-up. It proved to become very useful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here Its always good when you can not only be informed, but also entertained Im sure you had fun writing this post.

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This entry was posted on August 12, 2011 by in Environment and tagged , , .

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