India in 2014

Mr Modi has promised to provide "clean governance" to IndiaPrime Minister Narendra Modi led his Bharatiya Janata Party to a landslide win in the May general election

It was a year that gave India a new prime minister, a Nobel laureate and also witnessed the country successfully putting a satellite into orbit around Mars.

India also received polio-free status from the World Health Organisation in 2014.

But there were also stories of heartaches and tragedies – Indian-administered Kashmir witnessed its worst floods in decades and veteran author Khushwant Singh died.

Modi’s triumph

Supporter painted with a slogan supporting Modi celebrates inside BJP headquarters in Delhi 17/05/2014Mr Modi’s BJP got support from most parts of the country

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a landslide win in the general election in May.

Mr Modi faced stiff opposition from veteran BJP leaders like LK Advani before he was formally announced as the party’s PM candidate in late 2013.

He also defied opposition from the Congress and other parties to secure a comfortable victory for his party.

Many observers said Mr Modi ran a presidential-style campaign and saw the results as a referendum on his leadership.

His critics had rejected his leadership over his controversial record as the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat.

Mr Modi is generally credited with turning the state of Gujarat into an economic powerhouse but his critics accuse him of doing little to stop the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.

He has always denied these allegations.

But in the end, he defied all predictions and opposition to become the country’s prime minister on 26 May.


Kejriwal quits

Arvind Kejriwal, chief of the Aam Aadmi Party, shows his resignation letter to his supporters as he quits as Delhi Chief Minister on 14 February 2014Arvind Kejriwal resigned as Delhi’s chief minister only 49 days after taking oath

Mr Modi scripted history by wining the general election for his party, but the debutant anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lost badly in the polls.

Analysts say the AAP performed badly because of its leader Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to quit as Delhi chief minister after serving for only 49 days.

Mr Kejriwal quit in February after an anti-corruption bill was blocked in the state assembly.

The AAP was born out of a strong anti-corruption movement that swept India in 2011.


Mars mission

Mars Orbiter MissionIndia became the first country to successfully send a spacecraft into orbit around Mars in its first attempt

The biggest success story for India in 2014 came in space technology. India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, also called Mangalyaan, started orbiting the Red Planet on 24 September.

India became the first country to successfully send a spacecraft into orbit around Mars in its first attempt.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) received accolades from all over the country for the mission’s success.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the mission had cost less than the amount used to make Hollywood space thriller Gravity.

India has now joined the elite group of the US, Russia and Europe with its successful Mars mission.


Nobel win

Nobel Peace Prize laureates Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai wave during the Save the Children peace prize party organised by the humanitarian organisation for 6,000 school children at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, 10 December 2014The laureates were awarded for their work to protect children from slavery, extremism and child labour

This year will also be remembered because Indian child rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi received the Nobel Peace Prize along with Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai.

The 60-year-old runs Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Movement to Save Childhood), a non-governmental organisation that fights to stop child labour in India.

Mr Satyarthi’s initiative has helped liberate more than 80,000 children from bonded labour in factories and workshops across India.

“There is no greater violence than to deny the dreams of our children. I refuse to accept that the shackles of slavery can ever be stronger than the quest for freedom,” Mr Satyarthi said during his speech at the awards ceremony.


‘Polio free’ India

Child being given polio dropsIndia’s pulse polio initiative started in 1995 and in 2014 the country recorded three years without a new polio case

India’s long fight against polio proved successful in March when the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared it “polio free”.

Analysts said the achievement was remarkable considering India’s poor public healthcare system.

High population density, birth rate and poor sanitation make it tougher for India to cope with medical challenges.

The victory against polio was attributed to relentless effort of health authorities and vaccination teams who led a massive immunisation campaign for more than a decade.


Kashmir floods

Floods have caused massive damages to several towns and cities in Indian-administered KashmirFloods caused massive damages to several towns and cities in Indian-administered Kashmir

Severe floods in Indian-administered Kashmir left at least 270 people dead and thousands displaced in September.

The Indian armed forces were deployed to carry out a massive search and rescue operation in the state.

Entire villages were submerged and road and communication links snapped in the worst floods in 60 years in the state.

Pictures showed the main areas in the state capital, Srinagar, under water with people standing on roofs of their homes waiting to be rescued.


India’s 29th state

K Chandrasekhar Rao is the first chief minister of TelanganaK Chandrasekhar Rao is the first chief minister of Telangana

After years of violent protests, the southern state of Andhra Pradesh was divided on 2 June to create India’s 29th state – Telangana.

K Chandrasekhar Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi party (TRS) was sworn in as the new state’s chief minister.

Mr Rao and his party struggled for 14 years and spearheaded the movement to carve out the new state.

People in Telangana celebrated the creation of the new state, while those in Andhra Pradesh expressed their disappointment.


Those who left…

Photo of Khushwant Singh taken in Jan 2004Khushwant Singh was known for his humours writing

In 2014, India also lost some legends in the world of literature and public health.

Khushwant Singh, one of the most celebrated writers in the country, died at the age of 99 on 20 March. He wrote many popular books, including Train to Pakistan, during his long career.

Yoga guru BKS Iyengar died at the age of 95 on 20 August.

Famous for creating his own form of yoga, Mr Iyengar taught author Aldous Huxley and violinist Yehudi Menuhin, among other celebrities.

Dhoni retires from Test cricket

MS Dhoni has retired from Test cricket with immediate effect following the drawn Test against Australia in Melbourne. Virat Kohli will take over as India captain for the final Test of the series, which India have already lost, in Sydney.

Dhoni was batting on 24 when the Test was called off early at the MCG – four overs were left and India had four wickets in hand – and he made no mention of his retirement during the customary captain’s press conference at the end of the match. The announcement was made via a BCCI press release shortly after and it cited “the strain of playing all formats” as the reason.

“One of India’s greatest Test captains under whose leadership India became the No. 1 team in the test rankings, MS Dhoni, has decided to retire from Test cricket citing the strain of playing all formats of cricket,” the board said. “BCCI, while respecting the decision of MS Dhoni to retire from Test cricket, wishes to thank him for his enormous contribution to Test cricket and the laurels that he has brought to India. Virat Kohli will be the captain of the Indian team for the fourth and final Test against Australia to be played in Sydney.”

In recent months Dhoni suffered from fitness issues, missing five ODIs against Sri Lanka in November because of a hand injury, which also sidelined him from the first Test against Australia in Adelaide. In addition to the pressure of leading India in all three formats, and the Chennai Super Kings franchise, for six years Dhoni has also had to play an extraordinary amount of matches. Since the start of 2008 – taking into account international matches across formats, IPL and Champions League T20 games – Dhoni has played 398 matches, the most for any cricket during this period. Suresh Raina is second with 369 games.

Though Dhoni’s place in India’s Test side has not been under question, his batting form took a dip in 2014 and he averaged only 33 in 17 innings this year. His wicketkeeping has also deteriorated, in particular his ability to move laterally to take testing catches. India’s overseas results have also suffered under Dhoni’s leadership in recent years. Since 2011, they have won only two out of 22 away Tests and lost 13.

Dhoni, however, is India’s most successful captain, having presided over 27 wins in his 60-Test tenure, which began in 2008. His first Test as captain was against South Africa in Kanpur in April that year, because of an injury to regular captain Anil Kumble, and he took over full time after Kumble retired following the Delhi Test against Australia in October. Dhoni led India to the No. 1 Test ranking in 2009, a position they enjoyed until the tour of England in 2011.

Overall, Dhoni played 90 Tests in a career that began in 2005 and scored 4876 runs at an average of 38, with a high score of 224 against Australia in Chennai in 2013. As a wicketkeeper, he effected 294 dismissals, the fifth highest in Test cricket.


About Shashank Patel

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