It may have been the year of the people, but come December-end, it always becomes the people of the year. It’s the time for annual stock taking, when the heroes and the zeroes are given credit, or discredit, for having made headlines in 2013. The year had its fair share of both, so lest old acquaintances be forgot, here are the nominations for people of the year.
Farewell of the year: National emotions have not run so high since the Emergency was lifted in 1977, two years before Sachin Tendulkar would begin his record-breaking career. When he announced his retirement from cricket in November, there was national mourning, some people flew flags at half mast, sports channels and journalists recycled every story they had ever recorded or written, and the only Indian, resident or non-resident, who bawled a no-ball was Vinod Kambli, for having been left out of Sachin’s thank-you speech.
Not so fare-well of the year: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for failing to stop the slide, whether in politics, the economy, the electoral arena, and in his own party. In 2013, the prime ministership seemed foreign to him, mirrored in his foreign policy, which saw India losing old friends and making new enemies — even its foreign diplomats are now seen as fair game. His only lasting legacy in 2013 was to add to the collection of sardarji jokes.
Artist of the year: No, not Gaitonde at Christie’s, but Vijay Jolly at Shoma Choudhury’s where he brandished paint and brush with great vigour, only because the TV cameras were around. The Delhi BJP leader did come under the hammer from his party, but by then his messy masterpiece — he titled it ‘The Accused’ — was being viewed on national television, even if his effort was a blot on the party and his obscene hunger for self-publicity.
Hit of the year: Narendra Modi’s chest-thumping got more thunderous with his thumping victory in the Gujarat state elections last December and the announcement of his candidature for prime minister in 2014. It set the stage for his thunderous public rallies where he hit out at the Gandhi family, corruption, the Gandhi family dynasty, the Congress, the Gandhi family legacy, inflation, the Gandhi family’s prince, government policy, the Gandhi family’s son-in-law… We got the message.
Fashion revival of the year: Almost 50 years after it went out of fashion, the Gandhi topi was back, thanks to the