India 2014 Highlights: The Year That Was

31/12/2014 9:52 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
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There have been tremendous highs and heartbreaking lows for India in 2014. The year's biggest news was the new central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party won 282 of the 543 seats in the Indian Parliament, thus forming a legislative majority which hasn't happened since 1984.

India's Mars Mission, or Mangalyaan, made ripples internationally. Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade's arrest and strip search in New York under charges of visa fraud was also hotly debated. Natural disasters and a new Nobel Prize for India made sure that 2014 is a year to remember.

Here are some of the news highlights of 2014.

  • Indian Diplomat's Visa Fraud
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    Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade was formally indicted by a US grand jury after her arrest earlier in December 2013 sparked protests from India. Then the Deputy Consul General of the Consulate General of India in New York City, she was charged by U.S. authorities after it was revealed that she had committed visa fraud in order to get her household help, Sangeeta Richard, into the country using false documents. Not only was she arrested by US authorities, she was strip searched, which led to a major diplomatic standoff between India and the United States. Khobragade was however granted immunity and was asked to leave the US.
  • Telangana Is Born
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    India's Parliament passed a bill to create its 29th state, dividing the southern state of Andhra Pradesh into two. The northern area was carved out to create Telangana, after decades of protests. K Chandrasekhar Rao, of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi party (TRS), which for 14 years spearheaded the movement for separation, was later sworn in as chief minister of the state.
  • Gulzar Wins Dadasaheb Phalke Award
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    Veteran lyricist Sampooran Singh Kalra, better known as Gulzar, received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest award in cinema.
  • The Modi Wave
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    The Bharatiya Janata Party rose to power in May this year when they won the national elections with a sweeping majority. Led by Narendra Modi's relentless election campaign, the party won 282 of the 543 seats in the Indian Parliament. The win is historic in many ways—India has been largely ruled by the Indian National Congress ever since it gained its independence in 1947. For most of these 67 years, the Gandhi family that forms the core leadership of Congress has ruled India right from its first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. The overwhelming win is an indication towards how India has grown increasingly disenchanted with a government that is riddled with corruption, slow economic growth, and unemployment. Modi, who is credited with implementing quick large-scale development in his earlier role as chief minister of Gujarat, rode on the ticket of development and rapid economic growth. With several big wins in state elections, and a landmark visit to the US, 2014 has been a big year for Modi.
  • The Third Gender
    SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images
    In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court recognised the "third gender" status for hijras or transgenders in India, giving them proper legitimacy in the country. They were also recognised as a socially and economically backward group, and given due government benefits under that status.
  • Indian Nurses Return From Iraq
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    46 Indian nurses who were briefly held hostage in Iraq by ISIS militants returned to India in a special Air India flight, received by Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy and other ministers, at Kochi International Airport. The nurses, who were stranded in a hospital for a little over a week, had been caught in the fighting between the al-Qaeda splinter group, Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS), and Iraqi government forces trying to retake the town of Tikrit from the Sunni insurgents.
  • India-Bangladesh Border Dispute
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    A UN tribunal ended a three-decade border dispute between India and Bangladesh, by awarding Bangladesh nearly four-fifths of over 25,000 square kilometres (9,700 square miles) in the Bay of Bengal.
  • India's Mars Mission
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    India created history when ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan, entered the Mars orbit in its first attempt. ISRO's MOM is also the cheapest such mission till now. India followed Europe, US and Russia, which have also successfully managed to launch probes into Mars' orbit or to land on the planet, but each of these nations have required several attempts to achieve this feat.
  • Kashmir Floods
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    In one of the worst-ever floods in the Kashmir region, torrential rainfall resulted in over 500 deaths in India and Pakistan. Crores of rupees were pumped into disaster relief, yet there was drastic human toll and devastation.
  • Peshawar Killings
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    India mourned with Pakistan after a Taliban attack in a military school in Peshawar killed 145 people, most of whom were schoolchildren. Solidarity between the two countries could be seen in social media, as people united in grief and anger against the mindless massacre.
  • Peace.
    CORNELIUS POPPE/AFP/Getty Images
    Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, along with Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, thus becoming the first Indian citizen of Indian origin to have ever won the award. (The only Indian to have win the award earlier is Mother Teresa, who became a naturalised Indian citizen in 1948). The child rights activist, in his exclusive blog post for HuffPost India, wrote, "Millions of children still remain invisible, voiceless and unheard."
  • Religious Conversions
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    The issue of religious conversions in India came to a head with right wing groups pressing ahead with their "Ghar waapsi" campaign. While the Modi government has distanced itself from the issue, opposition parties are not buying it. The winter session of the Parliament remained at a logjam over the issue, disrupting both houses.
  • MSD Retires
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    The man who hit the winning shot that led India to victory in the 2011 World Cup, and has headed the Indian team since 2007, announced his resignation from test cricket abruptly on December 30, while The Australia-India test series was underway. "MS Dhoni has decided to retire from Test cricket citing the strain of playing all formats of cricket," Sanjay Patel, BCCI secretary, said in a press release. #ThankyouDhoni has trended on Twitter ever since.

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