As we set ourselves to consign another year to its final resting place, it is almost an awakening to note that the next couple of months mark the beginning of not just a new year, but a new decade. We’re older, surely, though not necessarily wiser; we have witnessed change to be wrought to ourselves and our surroundings in a way that only the passage of time can. It would be fitting, thus, to pause and reflect on the past ten years, which — though they seemed to have sped away almost in a trice — were marked by happenings of historic import. Here we look at events that defined the decade of 2010-2019 for Indians — from the 2011 World Cup win to the abrogation of Article 370, to the Supreme Court judgement (a verdict to end all verdicts?) in the century-old Ayodhya dispute.
Over the last decade and a bit, cellphones in India have turned from a rich man's plaything to a necessity as vital as drinking water or breathable air -- and possibly more easily procurable, too! India is second only to China in the number of mobile phone connections and has the cheapest mobile data rates in the world. This explosion in mobile services and data access has transformed our vast country with revolutions in connectivity, digital transactions, conventional and social media and life in general. India's Mars Orbiter Mission, popularly known as 'Mangalyaan' was launched in 2013 and has been orbiting Mars since September 24, 2014. This was India's first inter-planetary mission and made ISRO only the fourth space agency, after Roscosmos, NASA, and the European Space Agency, top reach Mars. India thus became the first country ever to reach the Martian orbit in its first attempt. The mission cost $74 million, some $26 million less than what it took to produce the Hollywood blockbuster 'Gravity'. The brutal gang rape and fatal assault of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on board a private bus in New Delhi led to national and international outpouring of grief and anger. The girl, referred to as 'Nirbhahya', the fearless one (as Indian laws prohibit the publication of the name of a rape victim), died in hospital after a prolonged battle with her injuries. The horrific episode galvanised the government to fast-track the passage of several new sexual assault laws, including a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years for gang rape. On April 2, 2011, Mahendra Singh Dhoni connected emphatically with a Nuwan Kulasekara delivery -- sending it into orbit above the packed Wankhede Stadium -- and ended India's 28-year-long wait to be re-crowned kings of the cricket cosmos. This also ensured that the greatest cricketer of our generation (across generations, perhaps?) did not have to retire with a gaping hole in his resume. A vestige of the Buggery Act, the Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which made illegal all acts of 'unnatural' sex, was introduced in 1861 in British India. After decades of social debate, the Supreme Court on September 6, 2018, ruled that the application of Section 377 to consensual homosexual sex between adults was unconstitutional, "irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary". The opening of minds, however, would take some more time. A consolidation of the Hindu vote? A mass movement against decades-long administrative ennui and corruption? A natural cycle of change? However one seeks to define it, there is no denying the rampant strides taken by the Bharatiya Janata Party into India's electoral space in the last ten years. The BJP swept 303 seats in the 2019 general elections, building on its already impressive 2014 performance that had seen it cross the 272 mark comfortably on its own and seen the Congress, India's oldest political party, reduced to a paltry 44 seats. The GST, an indirect tax imposed on the supply of goods and services, finally came into effect with the implementation of the 101st Amendment of the Constitution of India on July 1, 2017, after over 30 years in the making. A comprehensive multistage, destination-based tax, the GST subsumed almost all the other indirect taxes. Two episodes in the last few years -- popularly referred to as the 'surgical strike' of 2016 and the 'Balakot strike' of 2019 -- underlined India's new, firm stance against cross-border violators of peace. Never had India transgressed its physical and moral borders to wreak havoc on another country. But, under a new, fearless, unapologetic administration, her response to the Uri terror attack and the Pulwama suicide strike sent out a message that had never been sent out before: 'chhedenge bhi nahi, lekin chhodenge bhi nahin'. For almost 70 years the residents of Jammu & Kashmir lived under a set of laws different from those governing the rest of India. But on August 5, 2019, based on a resolution passed in both Houses of Parliament, the contentious Article 370 granting special status to J&K was superseded by an order issued by President Ram Nath Kovind that made all the provisions of the Indian constitution applicable to the northern state. Additionally, the J&K Reorganisation Act was also passed by the Parliament, allowing for the division J&K into two union territories, viz the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and UT of Ladakh. For over a century, Ayodhya was the flashpoint of conflagrations between Hindus and Muslims, before the Supreme Court on November 9, 2019 bedded the matter with a historic verdict: the disputed land went to the Ram temple, while Muslim parties were allocated an alternative piece of land for the construction of a mosque. No more (here's hoping) will the quaint Uttar Pradesh town be the epicentre of potential communal doom!