As survivors sailing through the nightmare that was 2020, people across India are praying 2021 to arrive with better vibes and a positive spirit. At the last month of 2020, we made a run down of 2020 India top news. Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, India in 2020 witnessed communal riots, natural calamities, accidents and shocking deaths.
- Anti-CAA Protests: Before COVID-19 made inroads, the country was already rattled by the anti-CAA-NRC protests. Millions joined in the countrywide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill and National Register of Citizens declaration by the central government. The bill was dubbed as discriminatory against religious minorities, especially the Indian Muslims. It created a nationwide uproar from people of all walks of life. Frequent clashes were reported between the police and mob, as well as between the protesters and BJP supporters. Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh became the symbol of resistance where hundreds of Muslim women organised a month-long sit-in protest. They withstood the biting January cold and near-zero temperature to express their dissent.
- First case of COVID-19 – Towards the end of the month, the first-ever case of COVID-19 in India was reported in Kerala on January 30. It was officially confirmed that the pandemic has spread to India from China. Covid-19 Outbreak was able to retain Top news of 2020 in India through out the year.
- Delhi Communal Riots – The rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country took a backseat in importance when Delhi witnessed one of the most horrific communal riots in recent times. It was a triggering speech by BJP politician Kapil Mishra that is believed to have fuelled the violence. From February 23 to 29, communal clashes between Hindus and Muslims claimed 53 lives across the capital city. Incidentally, the Delhi riots took place just days after Aam Aadmi Party won the legislative elections with an absolute majority.
- Janta Curfew – PM Narendra Modi urged Indians to observe a 14-hour lockdown on March 22.
- First Lockdown – Starting from March 24, the Prime Minister announced the country’s first lockdown for 21 days to contain the spread of COVID-19. During this period, people diligently followed social distancing and emergency protocols. Schools, colleges and workplaces were shut down with immediate effect. All businesses, except for essential services like food and healthcare, were suspended. At the start of the lockdown, the number of people affected by COVID-19 stood at around 500.
- Migrant Crisis – With public transportation being suspended during the lockdown, nearly 40 million migrant workers across the country were faced with a dire situation. Most of them were engaged in daily wage labour in urban areas. The lockdown rendered them out of work, but their option to return home was also unavailable. At places, NGOs and individuals stepped up to support the stranded migrants with daily rations. But the Central Government’s poor handling of the migrant crisis earned them strong criticism.
- Indo-China Dispute – Border dispute between India and China escalated, causing a cross-border class at Nathu La Pass. Around 150 Indian soldiers were embroiled in a faceoff with their Chinese counterparts.
- Gas Leaks – At 7 AM on May 7, 2020, Vizag woke up to styrene gas leakage from LG Polymers industrial compound. The poisonous gas claimed 13 lives and left many sick. The incident reminded people of the horrors of 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. Later in the month, a petroleum gas leak in Assam’s Baghjan Oilfield resulted in a massive fire that lasted weeks and displaced the nearby settlers.
- Cyclone Amphan – On May 20, supercyclone Amphan wreaked havoc in the eastern coast, severely affecting Odisha and West Bengal. With aggravating COVID-19 situation and in the midst of a full-fledged lockdown, the cyclonic destruction paralysed human life in the two states. It took Bengal months to emerge from the loss and despair caused by Amphan.
- Cyclone Nisarga – As the eastern states were reeling from the damages caused by Cyclone Amphan, Cyclone Nisarga struck the western state of Maharashtra between June 2 and June 4.
- Sushant Singh Rajput’s death – On June 14, the country woke up to the shocking news of beloved Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicidal death. His death caused a furore among netizens and brought to surface the nepotism prevailing in Bollywood.
- Indo-China tension escalates – 20 Indian Army personnel are martyred in a border clash with Chinese forces in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. Later in the month, Government of India bans 59 Chinese apps like TikTok and ShareIt as a response to Indo-China crisis situation.
- COVID-19 crosses the 1 Million mark – The number of COVID-19 cases in India reaches 1 million, putting India among the highest affected countries in the world.
- Assam Floods – Floods in Brahmaputra river brought lives to the standstill in riverine districts of Assam. Due to timely intervention, any major loss of lives could be averted.
- Alcohol poisoning in Punjab – Consumption of toxic, illegal alcohol claimed 121 lives in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran in Punjab.
- Ram Temple Bhoomi Pujan – Despite the decade-long controversy around Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the BJP government went ahead to perform the Bhoomi Pujan for the Ram Mandir at the disputed site in August this year. PM Modi attended the occasion which violated social distancing norms applicable then.
- Air India Flight Crash – On August 7, n Air India flight from Dubai to Kozhikode carrying 184 passengers crashed after overrunning the runway at Calicut International Airport in Kerala. The flight was a repatriation effort under Vande Bharat Mission. The fatal crash killed 19, including 17 passengers and two pilots. Over a hundred people were critically injured who received a prompt medical response and huge support from local residents in the rescue effort.
- Landslide in Munnar – On the same day as the Air India flight crash, Kerala suffered from another major disaster. 24 people were killed and around 40 individuals were trapped.
- Fire at COVID-19 facility – A fire broke out at a COVID-19 treatment centre in Andhra Pradesh killing 11 patients and injuring 22.
- Bangalore Riots – A Facebook post on Prophet Muhammad incited riots in Bangalore which killed 3 people. The post was shared by the nephew of a Congress politician. Bengaluru Police conducted a mass arrest to contain the spread of violence.
- GDP at a record low – As a repercussion of the pandemic-related economic slowdown, as well as Modi government’s poor economic policies, India recorded a negative GDP rate of -23.9%.
- Acquittal of Babri Masjid accused – All 32 accused in the Babri Masjid Demolition case of 1992, including heavyweight politicians like L.K. Advani, Uma Bharti, Murali Manohar Joshi etc, were acquitted by the court on inconclusive evidence.
- Hyderabad Floods – On October 13 and 14, heavy rains in Hyderabad caused a flash flood that claimed 33 lives and affected 40,000 families in the city.
- India ranks 94th in Global Hunger Index – Among 118 countries, India stood at an appalling 94th place in the Global Hunger Index. This indicated the worsening scenario of hunger and poverty in India, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Aishwarya Reddy’s suicide – The tragic suicide of 19-year-old student Aishwarya Reddy startled the country. The brilliant Mathematics Hons student at Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College hailed from the humble family of Telangana. She was selected to receive the prestigious INSPIRE scholarship from the Indian government, but the money was not sent to her on time. While her family was lurking neck-deep in debts to fund her education, she chose to end her life.
- Cyclone Nivar – Cyclone Nivar leaves five people dead in Tamil Nadu.
- Farmers’ Protests – We are only halfway through the last month of 2020, but farmers’ protest is undoubtedly the biggest concern at the moment. Thousands of farmers from northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are mass-protesting against Centre’s contentious agriculture laws passed recently.
In 2020, India lost icons like Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor, Pandit Jasraj, S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Soumitra Chatterjee, Pranab Mukherjee and many others. At the same time, more than 1.4 lakh people lost their lives to COVID-19. As India welcomes 2021, we can only hope 2020 never returns in anyone’s life.