News is not good news most of the time these days. Reports of violence, murder, rape, robbery, economic downturn and political turmoil fill pages of newspapers and online news portals.
This year, India witnessed a landmark Lok Sabha election in which the ruling party won 303 seats alone, further increasing its substantial majority. However, this was closely followed by unrest, uncertainty and the state machinery’s use of force on protestors of the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act, abrogation of Section 370 in Jammu & Kashmir where the clampdown in internet use continues in several areas. There was also the chilling custodial killing of four alleged rapists and murderers in Hyderabad, and many more remarkable events. Whether these are “good news” is a matter of perspective though. However, we tried to list some events this year that would be unanimously considered as making a positive difference to many lives.
Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics:
Indian-American economist who is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee won the prize along with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer for “their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”. While Banerjee became the ninth Indian and the third Bengali to win the Nobel, he and Duflo were also the sixth couple to receive the prize.
India became the 4th country to attempt soft landing on the Moon & the 1st country to attempt landing in the south pole of the Moon:
This was made wholly with indigenous technology and was India’s most ambitious space project ever. Although the orbiter Chandrayaan 2 was placed successfully in orbit on August 20, the lander with the rover in it crash-landed on the moon on September 6 after losing contact with the control room. The orbiter will continue to send mineralogical and elemental data by studying moon’s surface for seven years. The project caught international attention because of its astoundingly low budget. At $142 million, the mission reportedly cost less than half of the Avengers Endgame movie and less than many other popular Hollywood movies.
Highest ever voter turnout in India:
The 2019 Lok Sabha elections held between April and May saw the highest ever voter turnout at 67.36 per cent since Independence. This is also the first time ever that women voters’ turnout was almost same as male voters (only 0.07 per cent behind). In 13 states, women voters crossed male participation.
PV Sindhu became the first Indian to win gold in badminton World Championships:
PV Sindhu became the first Indian to win gold in badminton World Championships, held in Basel, Switzerland on August 25. The world number six had earlier won silver for India in the 2016 Olympics. Sindhu also made it to the Forbes highest-paid female athletes list of 2018 and 2019 featuring at 7th and 13th respectively.
Kolkata became the first Indian city to get underwater Metro tunnel:
After being the first Indian city to get underground Metro railway, Kolkata got India’s first underwater river tunnel for its East-West Metro project. The tunnel is 33 m below the river bed, connecting Kolkata and Howrah.
Jaipur, Rajasthan, became the second Indian city to be included in UNESCO Heritage list:
India’s Pink City, Jaipur in Rajasthan became the second Indian city after Ahmedabad to be included in UNESCO Heritage list on July 6. The city is remarkable for its town planning and is considered one of the earliest planned cities of India. Conceived by Sawai Jai Singh II and designed by Bengali architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, Jaipur was said to exhibit an “interchange of ancient Hindu, Mughal and contemporary Western ideas” by the UNESCO.
Women entered the Sabarimala temple in Kerala:
History was created on January 2 when Bindu and Kanakadurga, two women in their mid-40s entered the Sabarimala temple after the Supreme Court on September 2018 ruled against the centuries’ old ban on women of menstruating age from entering the temple of the celibate god, Ayyappan.
Although the two had to be escorted by police fearing attack from protesters (and the apex court recently sought to review its earlier judgement), the entry of the two women (followed by several others) is a landmark event.
Community refrigerator initiative, Happy Fridge, to feed the poor:
Happy Fridge, an initiative introduced, serves around 90,000 meals across 25 cities in India through 68 community refrigerators. Started in December 2018 by the Zomato NGO Feeding India, the initiative gained momentum over the year with residents of various cities calling it up for installing a community fridge in their localities. The fridge is set up by the NGO free of cost.
Indian Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team participated in 2020 Summer Paralympics qualifiers:
Indian wheelchair women basketball team participated for the first time in the qualifiers which is also known as the Asia Oceania Championship. The event took place in Pattaya from November 29 – December 7. Although the team couldn’t make it to the Paralympics, it gave the sport a much-needed exposure in a cricket dominated country like India. Where women’s sports gets little attention and sponsorship, this will also inspire differently-abled women to take up sports with more confidence.
Kerala government decided to bear training cost for India’s first transgender pilot:
The Kerala government decided to back a 20-year-old who will train to become the country’s first transgender airline pilot. In this bold move by the government that strengthens gender equality, the state authorities decided to bear the expenses of 20-year old Adam Harry’s commercial aviation course. Harry, who had a dream of becoming a pilot, had been disowned by family members and nearly locked up at home. After going through physical and mental torture, Harry contacted the state’s Social Justice department that eventually decided to bear the training expenses.
14-year old from Himachal Pradesh designed a smart dustbin:
Vinayak Rana, a teenager from Himachal Pradesh designed a dustbin that beeps “Please use me” if garbage is littered in its vicinity. Rana’s invention is to receive a patent and will be displayed in Japan in 2020. The Himachal Pradesh education department has decided to patent the innovation and the Centre will send Rana to a research centre of Japan to showcase his innovation and where he can gain more expertise.
Meal for Rs 10 in the state announced by Maharashtra government:
On December 21, the Maharashtra government announced its decision to give nutritious meals to the poor for Rs. 10 through 1,000 centres set up across the district headquarters. These centres which have been named Shiv Bhojan centres will be serving at least 500 plates of meal in the first phase and their capacities will be increased gradually.