‘Ring out the grief that saps the mind/For those that here we see no more/Ring out the feud of rich and poor/Ring in redress to all mankind.” Alfred Tennyson’s words strike a chord as the New Year begins following a year of great sorrow and equally great cheer. In a way, 2008 was the year India came of age. The cataclysmic Mumbai terror attacks were met with a mature and reasoned response worthy of a great democracy. Of course, there were the usual publicity-seekers with their outré suggestions, but that’s just par for the course. The de-hyphenation of India and Pakistan was never more stark.
Indian diplomacy, best known for its bumbling incoherence, got its act together convincing the world that a rogue neighbour was now in the grip of so-called non-state actors who had made a mockery of the authority of the civilian administration. As the world reeled under a bruising financial meltdown, our markets trembled but finally held firm. Yes, there were jobs lost and businesses that went under but the magnitude and scale were far less than what mightier economies suffered. While we are not quite at the high table of the nuclear nations, we moved ahead far quicker than anyone, especially prophets of doom like CPM supremo Prakash Karat, had predicted. The government tottered on a political tightrope for a while but stuck to its guns and made it safely to the other side. Gaffemeister George Bush proved to be one of the best allies India has ever had in the White House though the causeratti may have a thing or two to say about that. And on to that never-ending renewal of democracy – elections. The voters in the five state polls were clear on one thing, they would not stand for fear-mongering and esoteric promises. They went with those who had delivered on governance. And the biggest turn-up for the books was Kashmir which turned its back on divisive politics and weighed in with those it thought would deliver on bread and butter issues.
Can any year-ender be complete without sports? One Olympic gold, a few bronzes and swashbuckling performances on the cricket field. So let’s get going into 2009 and hope that all good things never come to an end. Here is wishing all our readers a safe and wonderful New Year.