The year 2015, like most other years, had its fair share of controversies. From the unexpected results of the Bihar elections that proved most predictions going wrong to the intolerance debate that took over much of the public discourse, a lot has happened to dominate the media’s attention.
The Indian media in particular thus was targetted for being biased or sensationalist or irresponsible, but there were moments that did redeem it. From Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s umpteen foreign visits to Salman Khan’s acquittal in the 2002 hit-and-run case, here are some of the choicest headlines that really made heads turn and showed the power of this fourth pillar of democracy:
Photo courtesy Shiv Sena
Remember Sudheendra Kulkarni’s ink-blackened face ? It appeared on every news channel and took over the timelines of most social media activists because of former Pakistan minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch in Mumbai. It further fuelled what has become the intolerance debate in the country. While the book launch still took place despite protests from right-wing groups in Maharashtra, that ink-smeared face turned into a poster image for media platforms. Sure, an image is worth a thousand words. But the Indian Express headline hit the bullseye with just four words.
Nitish-Lalu dynamo stuns BJP
Bihar elections remained one of the major highlights of 2015. The political battle between the Nitish-Lalu led Grand Alliance and BJP coalition saw most exit polls get it terribly wrong, with political experts expressing shock, confusion and disbelief. NDTV bore the brunt of wrong data being provided on D Day, but CNN IBN took the cake for being the most accurate of them all. The rout though had Indian newspapers at their creative best. Competition was tough, but Hindustan Times packed a ‘pun’ch so as to speak.
Yakub ke liye puri raat jaga aadha mulk
Yakub Memon, the accused in the 1993 terror blasts in Mumbai, was hanged in the Nagpur Central jail on the morning of July 30 after the Supreme Court gave the ruling at 5 am. While the sentence restarted the debate on the death penalty with differing opinions not finding consensus, Urdu newspapers were hailed for the restraint in their reportage of the incident. Roznama Sahafat blamed political parties for not being able to stop the hanging despite numerous appeals. The report was headlined as ‘Yakub ke liye puri raat jaga aadha mulk’ which translates to ‘half the country spent a sleepless night for Yakub’ and stood out for its ability to relay the emotions surrounding a highly complex issue with such simplicity.
No one was driving Salman Khan’s car
Salman Khan was acquitted by the Bombay high court in the 2002 hit-and-run case in which one person had been killed and four others were injured. Public outrage followed the verdict with only one question dominating the much prolonged public debate: Who exactly was driving the car which led to Noorullah’s death? Social media erupted with memes and hashtags expressing their disbelief over the failure of India’s justice system. While everyone commented on how the situation had parallels with the Jessica Lal murder case where initially it appeared that no one had actually killed the model, it was the Financial Express which took the cue.
Wall to wall, Kejriwal
The other major election that shook Indian politics this year was the Delhi assembly polls which saw now Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi head-to-head. The winner was clearly the Aam Aadmi Party, though the elections turned out to be the first battle in an ensuing war. The Delhi CM has since been at loggerheads with the Centre over administrative powers in Delhi. However, the landmark elections signified his second innings in politics, and how. The newspapers reflected this sentiment in their headlines. Times of India took the trophy for the most innovative one.
One Prime Minister watches step, the other cameras
PM Modi’s foreign visits will fill many pages in a book, if there will ever be one. These trips have sealed many important deals, not just with governments, but with business giants too. But what caught more attention was Modi’s too-camera-friendly disposition. The opposition can throw as many political jibes as they like and social media can churn out all the memes it can, but there is no denying Modi’s photogenic moments. Telegraph’s headline with a corresponding photograph of Narendra Modi looking up at the camera while UK PM Cameron watched his step caught the moment just too well.