Former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam, was one of the most popular scientists this country has produced. He was also one of the most loved leaders of our nation and was called the ‘People’s President’. In July 2015, when Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam died while addressing a group of students in Shillong, the nation erupted in an unprecedented outpouring of grief. The country’s media, social media, and other channels were clogged with mourning messages from millions of Indians. A seven-day state mourning was declared and many nations reacted with condolence messages. His funeral attracted millions to Rameshwaram in a befitting farewell to one of the nation’s greatest leaders and scientists.
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi remained undoubtedly India’s top newsmaker this year. As the leader of the world’s largest democracy, NaMo remained much loved and highly criticized at the same time. Listed as one of the second most influential leader in the world, 2015, by the Time Magazine, the Indian PM has been hailed as a pioneer in economic matters, environment, and foreign relations by many world leaders. NaMo’s critics have grown vociferous, back home though. His government has been accused of fostering an intolerant atmosphere and of not living up to its election promises. One thing is certain, though – love him, hate him, but there is no ignoring this dynamic leader.
Twenty-five-year-old Saina Nehwal first made news back home in India in 2012 when she became the first Indian to bag the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games. That, however, was only the beginning. Many more awards and much glory were to come her way. 2015 has been a very special year for Saina. The Indian sports star has finally claimed her rightful place at the top of the Badminton World Federation Women’s Singles rankings. Saina is an inspiration to all the young badminton players of the country who after Prakash Padukone did not have an icon to look up to.
In August 2015, Indian-born Sundar Pichai made news when he was named the CEO of Google, the Internet giant. Even as Google went through a major restructuring, the IIT Kharagpur alumni of humble roots claimed the much-coveted top chair. The world certainly showered praises, but India went ecstatic. Along with Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai is one of the most influential Indians in the Silicon Valley and one of the top people in the US technology industry. Pichai was born in Chennai and grew up in the city before graduating in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT Kharagpur. He then went on to gain his PhD from Stanford University and started to work with Google.
When Raghuram Rajan took over as the Governor of the RBI, there seemed to be much uncertainty about the Indian economy. Many predicted that the economy was on the verge of a collapse, with CAD ratio spiraling out of hand and the domestic currency remaining extremely volatile. In 2014, with the NaMo government coming to power, many predicted conflict between Rajan and the FM, Arun Jaitley. Rajan has slowly but very firmly silenced his critics with his strong control over the RBI’s policies and credit rates. After bagging the best central bank governor award in 2014, this year Rajan went on to be ranked No. 3 in Global Finance’s central bank governor ratings. Much of India’s economic progress in the past couple of years has been credited to him.
Throughout 2014, Chanda Kochhar had made a valiant effort to outgrow her role as Chairman and MD of ICICI Bank, one of the country’s leading banks and evolve into a much more influential personality in the Indian economic scenario. Her efforts have obviously paid off as in 2015 Chanda Kocchar finds herself listed among the top 5 influential people in the world (Titans) by the Time Magazine and at No 35 of the Forbes 100 Most Influential Women of the World. Kochhar is definitely one of the top influencers of the Indian banking scenario this year.
Nitish Kumar, the Chief Miniser of Bihar was in the news through most of 2014 as well. Despite having held office in the state since 2005, last year was one of the worst political phases, this Janata Dal (United) leader may have seen. So much so that he had to resign accepting responsibility for his party’s dismal performance in the general elections. In the 2015 state assembly elections, too, things looked bleak for a while as the Indian PM himself took to active campaigning for the BJP. Nitish Kumar’s discretion was certainly better than his valour as he entered into an alliance with traditional rival, Lalu Prasad Yadav and reclaimed the CM’s chair with much ado.
Over the past few years, a number of yoga gurus and godmen have found their place in Indian news, more for the wrong reasons than the right. None of them, however, have held on to the spotlight quite like Baba Ramdev. Apart from the support, criticism, and even ridicule, this yoga guru seems to have garnered over the past few years, this year he was in the spotlight for two reasons. In April 2015, the Government of Haryana appointed Baba Ramdev as its brand ambassador of Yoga and Ayurveda. Baba Ramdev was also offered the position of a Cabinet Minister in the government of Haryana, but he turned it down. Again in August, the nation’s premier defense research organization, DRDO, tied up with Baba Ramdev’s Ayurvedic products manufacturing company, Patanjali, to market these products.
Till about mid 2015 not many people in India would have recognized Indrani Mukherjee, despite her stint as CEO and co-founder of INX Media. In August 2015, however, news of her arrest caused quite a stir across the country. In 2012, Sheena Bora who was living with Indrani and her third husband Peter Mukerjea (as Indrani’s sister) went missing. In August 2015, almost 3 years after her disappearance, the police discovered that Sheena had been murdered and alleged that Indrani, who was her mother, was the murderer. The probable cause of the murder was Sheena’s involvement with Rahul Mukerjea, Indrani’s stepson. The case is still on and has hogged much media attention this year.
For decades now, Aamir Khan has been one of India’s most loved actors. This year, however, Aamir Khan made news for the wrong reasons. In November 2015, Aamir Khan jumped into the heart of India’s raging intolerance debate when he said that his wife had suggested moving out of the country and feared for her children. The country’s social media erupted with criticism pouring in from all possible quarters and with ardent fans swearing never to spend another rupee on an Aamir Khan movie. The star did have a few supporters but the negative publicity far outweighed the benefits of being in the spotlight.
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