The decade gone by
Last 10 years have been iconic for India — marking several highs and lows
The turn of the decade fills one with nostalgia. Ten years went by, leaving one with the equivalent number of extra kilos, age coming on with fine lines for friends, achievements and disappointments in close succession, loss of near and dear ones, and building of memories…and just like that a decade is done and we look to embark onto the next one. As I wistfully write this, it's also the right time for us to look back as a nation at the years gone by. For India, this decade has been marked by many ups and downs; from the heady highs of space achievements to the depressing lows of being stuck in the quagmire of petty politics of religion — 2010-2020 has been an iconic decade for all of us.
A write-up is too pithy to adequately do justice to the decade but certain events stand out for me. Foremost among them is the Indian economy — from the highs of 2010 (even after resisting the global recession) to the problematic demonetisation and implementation of GST — our economy ends the decade on a dismal note with fears of stagflation seeming more realistic than ever. Joblessness and high inflation also ensure that the country has more reasons to worry as a new decade beckons us. Start-ups grabbed most headlines as India impressed the world with its zeal for entrepreneurship.
The last decade gave us a brilliant World Cup win in cricket and brought us quite close to another one. We discovered new sporting heroes including female ones such as Dipa Karmakar, PV Sindhu, Deepika Kumari, etc. Cinema and literature opened its horizons and exciting, challenging plots wowed audiences while OTT platforms such as Netflix stormed our television sets at home.
This definitely was the decade of Indian women. We broke stereotypes and forced Indian society to rethink its rules more often than once. The participation of women in the workforce remained below par and salaries too were lower than their male counterparts, but boy did we holler in this decade! We also became the news; whether it was the heinous rape of Nirbhaya in Delhi or the #MeToo campaign that exposed horrific tales of sexual harassment at the workplace, Indian women stood out in this decade.
Decriminalising to criminalising to finally, decriminalising homosexuality — the last decade witnessed the fight for the right to love. With the scrapping of Article 377, India belatedly but finally joined the ranks of sensible nations that don't view same-sex relationships as a crime. We are a long way from allowing same-sex marriages, but this is a welcome start.
And last but not least, what a superb decade for Indian politics! A change of guard has threatened the erstwhile social fabric. The fantastic rise of a right-wing leader from the lower economic class to assume the throne of the nation not once but twice in the last decade. The decimation of the Left came at the hands of a woman grassroots leader. It was a decade that forced the grand old party, the Congress, into a huddle and fight for its survival. At the end of the ten years, there are some signs of the opposition parties fighting back and wresting control.
Today, Indians are being made to view the politics and policies that once governed the country with a newer prism of hyper-nationalism. But the fight is far from over; thousands and thousands of Indians are also fighting to reclaim the older order and stick to the tenets of the Constitution. Hate crimes, lynchings, and inequitable policies such as CAA and NRC are new testing grounds for Indian citizens. As 2019 marches to its end, thousands of Indians are still on the streets while others resist excessive police force in states such as Uttar Pradesh. Their only desire is to impress upon the ruling dispensation that the decade may be ending but their fight against contentious government policies will continue. And to remember that "We, the People of India" are fighting to protect "sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic" nature of our republic. And, that's worth fighting for.
Shutapa Paul is an author and media entrepreneur. Views expressed are strictly personal