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2008: year of terror, inflation and recession

New Delhi, Wed, 31 Dec 2008 M Shamsur Rabb Khan
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Taking stock of the year 2008 is somewhat painful, as we have more destructive events and even greater eventualities than success stories. While India’s rise in technological know-how is a one great success story whereby we reached the moon, its economic growth has been satisfying save the global recession that has the dire effect on our country as well. In sports, India opened a new chapter: the gold medal in Beijing Olympics is something we waited for so long. Abhinav Bindra created history when he won gold in the men’s 10m air rifle shooting event in the Beijing Olympics. In over 100 years of competing, this was India's first gold away from hockey.

Talking of terror strikes world wide, we have 1,291 people killed in terrorist attacks in India this year. Among the major strikes include: May 13 serial blasts in Jaipur in a span of 12 minutes leaving 65 dead and over 150 injured; on July 26, 2008, India witnessed serial blasts in Ahmedabad in which as many as 60 killed and over 200 got injured; on September 13, 2008, capital New Delhi was hit with serial blasts at shopping areas killing close to 30 people; on September 29, 2008: Blast in Modasa in Gujarat killed one and in Malegaon of Maharashtra killed five, which for the first time revealed the involvement of Hindutva terror; on October 14, 2008, 8 people injured after bomb planted on a rented bicycle went off in Kanpur’s Colonelganj market; on October 30, 2008, at least 66 killed and close to 500 injured in 13-18 blasts across Assam; on October 21, 17 were killed in a powerful blast near Manipur Police Commando complex in Imphal; and finally, on November 26-27, 180 people were killed and some 300 injured in serial terror attacks in Mumbai.

So, much of joy of winning the Olympics gold medal and sending Chandrayan to the moon is eclipsed by the tragic events that took a heavy toll of Indian social fabric, along with great human loss and economic downturn. There were anger, frustration and revenge talks, but the attacks continue to hit India at regular intervals. Well, Mumbai attacks perhaps provided much-needed teeth to the government to initiate some concrete measures to fight terror. And tension is mounting between India and Pakistan, as the year closes by. While Pakistan promises, like earlier ones, to contain homegrown terror, India has reasons not to believe it.

On the international level, Afghanistan and Iraq continued to face the double wrath: one in the form of regular bomb blasts that ruined the entire human existence in these two countries, while the civilians deaths due to offensive by the NATO forces in Afghanistan and due to the US excesses in Iraq. Sri Lanka, too, witnessed some bloody skirmishes between the government forces and the LTTE rebels, including year some harsh measures to finish the Tamil aggression. While the shoe-throwing incident at George W Bush in Iraq showed the growing dissent against the US in Arab world, Somalian pirates became bold enough to loot vessels of any country at will.

Election of Barack Obama is one incident shown all over the world, with a promise that there will be some drastic changes in the US policy 2009 onwards when this first black president takes over. Let us see. And as the year-end, Israel, not India against Pakistan, started serious attacks on Palestinian in Gaza stripes, killing more than 400 hundred and injuring more than 1000. So conflicts remain the central event in 2008 and killing of people in the name of terror and counter-terror has been very much on the world’s political menu.

Global financial crisis with the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008 is a gigantic event, which will continue to hit the world economy in a big. With Sensex going down from 15000 plus to less than 10000 is one effect we have seen this year. For buyers of houses and flats, year and the next year will be rosy, but what about the seller? Real estate, about which one of my friends working with Reliance, used to boast that it would never slide down, I need to meet him and take his words. But then, we have news of job cuts in IT sector and banks, so all the wise people started concentrating on their works as well as transferring money from ICICI Bank to state-owned banks, especially economists by following the dictum that doctors die early when they are diagnosed of a fatal disease.

Good news from neighbouring Bangladesh, as democratic process started on the second last of the year, with results shows Sheikh Hasina Wajed leading the next government in the next year. But will she be able to put checks on groups involved in terror strikes in India? India’s emergence as the champion of cricket under MS Dhoni is remarkable. While young lots love to watch Ghajni, the older ones are busy preparing budgets in the coming year of recession and inflation, as school fee as well as expenditure on India’s security is certainly going to put pressure on tax payer’s purse. And as we wait for 2009, we, like the hero of Waiting for Godot, hope.

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