With fresh expectations
Political decisions, military muscle, economic debacle, space missions, big elections, and bigger results: the past year was marked by some spectacular turn of events on the national front, many of which had an impact that lasted long enough to create an environment to usher in some favourable changes. In the February of 2019, India saw the greatest and ghastliest peace time attack since Independence when a convoy carrying of 40 CRPF personnel was blown up in a suicide attack in Pulwama in Kashmir. Just when this news was still seeping in, it came to light in time that this event had in fact triggered a series of military exchanges between India and Pakistan, the retaliation to the Pulwama episode was made with an airstrike at Balakot on Pakistan occupied Kashmir and that followed with further aggravated action along the LoC, claiming more lives. The most striking aspect of this chain of events is the notion of nationalism that had come to acquire bizzare anti-Pakistan definitions; war-mongering in common place talks and bombastic media discourse became the new normal and it took concerted efforts to bring it to attention afresh that a war can never be the solution to any thing and that an example of good statecraft could be established with averting any war-like situation. The pervading feelings against Pakistan in particular had taken great proportions filled with hatred and revenge for the lives of the security personnel assassinated in the dastardly suicide attack in Pulwama. Matter had escalated very quickly and given that the Lok Sabha election was just a few weeks away, matters took on yet another side of extracting any electoral mileage from the simmering incident. Eventually, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was rewarded with a renewed stint. The government was formed with an imposing majority and little inkling did the nation have that the last weeks of the year will be those filled with unrest for a better and more secure and hassle-free life for migrant Indians. The glaring lack of opposition in the Parliament led to developments for which groups of foresighted young Indians, most of whom are students are out protesting the government's decision to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, now with the fresh accompaniment of the National Population Register. Clearly, there has been a spectacular shift between what it meant to be an Indian—between February of 2019 to the end of the year.
While the economy is in a downward spiral and in desperate need for attention, matters took dramatic turns on the political front. The notion of citizenship and having that demarcated along religious lines, police brutality on display over the most vulnerable and most valuable section of Indian society, its youth that are students in the safe and secure university campuses were the most prominent things that sparked a wildfire that spread across the country as the year drew to a close. That the BJP returned to power for an increased strength of 21 seats this May and that apparently foretold the consolidation of Hindutva politics. However, it was not anticipated that matters along this line would take shape so swiftly. The touch topic of contemporary Indian nationalism: Kashmir saw a dramatic and perhaps hitherto unimaginable change whereby the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was abrogated the northern state was split into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Kashmir remains under the longest communication clampdown in the history of India with no internet connectivity and restricted movement even after four months of the historic decision. Although Pulwama was weaponised and turned into a campaign material for the general election, the military front is introduced with an administrative change with the induction of a Chief of armed forces to coordinate the operations of all the three defence forces: the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Much happened along the frontiers of the nation and much more within the nation. But the common people that have raised their voices is the breath of fresh air in as we step into the new year.