What’s your list?
Thank you, Manish Sabharwal, Nitin Pai, Narayan Ramachandran, and Nikhil Mehra for the suggestions/contributions
Sat, Dec 28 2013. 12 34 AM IST
The Contrarian View | 25 things to feel happy about
Performing chief ministers, a successful move to explore Mars, a TV show that didn’t make us wince and more. Who says it was all gloom and doom this year?
1 Anjali Tendulkar gets to see more of her husband.
2 Deepika Padukone is a bona-fide stactress (star-actress). Six years old. Nearly a dozen endorsements and four `100 crore-plus hits this year. And she made the pavadai-dhavani cool.
3 Our Mars mission was launched flawlessly for a tenth of the cost of one season’s Diwali crackers.
4 Our children are in school. Primary school enrolment in India is nearly 100%. Now if we could only make sure that those who are enrolled—teachers and students—show up every day.
5 Thanks to our learning from Uttarakhand, we managed Phailin with remarkable efficiency: 215 kmph wind speed, 900,000 evacuated in 36 hours. Fewer than 50 deaths.
6 We have a great election coming up—perhaps the most important since 1977. The voting public is engaged and turning up in record numbers. Anything but the Congress appears to be the mood of the moment. Aam Aadmi rises. Narendra Modi rallies everywhere. Billionaires are standing for elections when they have little to prove.
7 Jai ho! For once, content rules on Indian television. Mega-budget show 24, a licensed adaptation of the hit US show, produced by and featuring India’s own ageless wonder, Anil Kapoor, has big-screen worthy production values. Plus: It has action, outdoor locations, gun fights and car chases.
8 A respected scientist gets the Bharat Ratna.
9 The non-profit Conservation India succeeded in preventing the slaughter of the migrating Amur falcons through Nagaland. A thousand volunteers register themselves at Bandipur National Park to participate in the quadrennial event, All India Tiger Census. Delhi’s non-profit Wildlife SOS unchains elephants. A roar and trumpet of thanks.
10 The hotel sector is coming of age. There are budget-hotel chains such as Ginger, Red Fox, Premier Inn and Accor that offer travellers a clean room in small towns. There are specialist hotels such as Daiwik hotels, catering to pilgrims in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, and Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh; and the Sarovar chain that caters to Char Dham pilgrims. Travellers are no longer hostages to five-star hotel rates. Four Seasons is coming to Delhi and the Ritz-Carlton has come to Bangalore.
11 New satellite towns like Devanahalli and Siruseri are being created, adding to the list of existing ones like Gurgaon, Magarpatta, Rajarhat and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Our silly real-estate boom has ended. Forget the Capital. Buy in Coimbatore instead.
12 We have five chief ministers with at least three terms. Mindless anti-incumbency is ending and good work is being rewarded.
13 The middle class is finally engaging in public affairs. Organizations—such as Bangalore Political Action Committee (Bpac), Delhi’s Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Mumbai’s Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (Agni)—and platforms such as SmartVote, point out that good governance doesn’t grow on trees. What began as fashionable social causes and animated conversations at parties has moved from hand-wringing to action.
14 The stock market is at an all-time…. Let me not jinx anything. The rupee and stock market are…ahem, picking up.
15 Thanks to the J.S. Verma committee report, amendments that relate to sexual harassment against women have come to pass, including various forms of sexual assault, sexual violence against children and stalking, thereby setting up a continuum of offences that are prosecutable. Hallelujah!
16 Niche and regional media is growing even though national media isn’t. Witness newspapers such as Rajasthan Patrika, book publishers such as Tara Books and Zubaan, and magazines, print and online, such as The Caravan and Kafila.org. And as the Tehelka incident shows, media can turn the harsh lens on itself.
17 Subodh Gupta’s solo show is opening at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi, on 16 January. A government museum taking notice of a living contemporary artist is a good thing. The next generation of artists—Ranjani Shettar, L.N.Tallur, Mithu Sen, A. Balasubramaniam, Navin Thomas, and Manjunath Kamath, to name several, are redefining the Indian art vocabulary. Sheela Gowda is an underrated rock star in the art world. Art by Vasudev Gaitonde—deservedly—sells for `23.7 crore at the global auction house Christie’s first India auction in Mumbai.
18 Is Indian philanthropy finally taking off? Shiv Nadar and Azim Premji top the lists and are making the rules. According to China’s Hurun Indian Philanthropy List 2013, south Indians made cumulative donations of `10,000 crore, while north Indians made contributions of `4,865 crore. Mukesh Ambani, when are you going to pitch in and change the game?
19 The reform argument has moved beyond hard-to-grasp economics and FDI to things that matter in daily life, like corruption, roads, and coal.
20 Arvind Kejriwal articulates the above things beautifully. Maybe he really has a shot at national office. This vipassana-practising vegetarian can teach brand marketers a thing or two about authenticity.
21 Home-grown firms like Café Coffee Day, Zomato and Flipkart show that an entrepreneurial culture is possible in India. They all used ideas borrowed from the West though.
22 Khadi and handwoven fabrics have become cool among the urban elite at last.
23 The mandate on corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending will help the burgeoning number of NGOs in all parts of India. ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists), or community health workers, and toilets are two areas where this money can be put to good use.
24 If labour-market reform reaches fruition, this country, with one of the world’s largest number of technically skilled graduates, will truly live up to the potential that proponents of the “demographic dividend” are talking about.
25 We still live with, or visit, grandparents. We still have noisy raucous weddings. The joint family fabric of India is alive and well. Evidence: No other country has as many “multi-cooshine” restaurants as we do. Thank God!
Shoba Narayan will be listening to local bands at a local dive in Bangalore this New Year’s Eve.