1) Snowden Issue/Snoopgate issue:
30 year old, June. 21, 1983 born Edward Joseph Snowden is an American computer specialist, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who disclosed classified NSA documents to several media outlets, initiating the NSA leaks, which reveal operational details of a global surveillance apparatus operated by the United States of America.
The NSA Leaks were the biggest of the leaks in the history of America and brought many bigwigs under fire for their actions of snooping. Snowden has been called a “hero”, a “whistleblower”, a “dissident”, a “traitor”, and a “patriot” by different people for different reasons. But as of now he is “Wanted” in the US and is charged with espionage and theft of government property and has been granted asylum in Russia.
The Hindu lists down the development of events as they occur from the day he flees to Hong Kong on May. 20, 2013 to the day on which Russia finally grants him asylum in August 2013.
When asked why he did what he did, this is what he had to say, “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
2) Supreme Court criminalizes Gay sex:
In the year 2009, the Delhi High Court had decriminalized gay sex saying it was against the basic right of humans to choose their own partners. However, again in the year 2013, the Supreme Court criminalized homosexuality Under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which considers gay sex as against the “order of nature”.
The law, dating back to the 1860s, when Britain ruled over South Asia, states that “whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” can be punished for up to 10 years in prison.
Although there were supporters and protestors during the 2009 verdict and there were also supporters and protestors during the 2013 verdict, the attitude of people of India has been surprisingly hollow and homophobic.
The stand-up comic group, All India B******’s has done a satirical video on the same issue featuring actor Imran Khan.
3) AAP wins in Delhi:
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wins in their first ever election campaign toppling Sheila Dikshit who had won three consecutive terms before in Delhi. The Congress had won over the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in the year 1998 and had been in power ever since. But incessant scams, corruption, inflated prices and rise of violence against women in Delhi were the main reasons that people didn’t believe in the Congress anymore. They wanted reforms and AAP promised them the same.
One of the biggest reasons in the victory of AAP was the social media. 45-year-old Arvind Kejriwal who is also a graduate from IIT and has already worked for the IRS as joint commissioner, took to the social media with gusto and influenced public opinion through Twitter and Facebook.
Most of the voters were first timers and all of them voted for AAP in huge numbers making their critics eat their own words. Sheila Dikshit had once said, “Who is Arvind Kejriwal?” and the poor lady had to resign from the post of chief minister after the debacle of Assembly elections where they only won eight seats. AAP won 28 seats and the BJP won 32 seats. Needing a minimum of 36 seats for majority, neither of the parties came forward to form the government.
4) Devyani Khobargade arrested in US for alleged Visa fraud:
Devyani Khobargade is an Indian consular employee who was charged on Dec. 11, 2013, of committing visa fraud and providing false statements in order to gain entry to the United States for a woman of Indian nationality, for the potential employment as a domestic worker for Khobragade in New York.
According to the report, Khobargade was underpaying her maid according to the US laws and lied to the authorities about the same to get her maid’s visa approved. Whereas Khobargade maintains that she was paying the amount that was stipulated in the contract that was signed by the maid in India.
Indian media sources claimed that after her arrest, she was handcuffed, strip searched, DNA swabbed and subjected to a cavity search. This led to a major diplomatic standoff between India and the USA. There were protests against the arrest and Indian officials demanded that she be released immediately, but the US officials denied stating that it was a crime committed on the American soil and she is liable to be charged with a sentence. This further worsened the situation and many politicians in India refused to receive and meet a delegation from America that was to visit India at that time.
Former Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha called for the arrest of same-sex companions of US diplomats, citing the Supreme Court of India’s recent upholding of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
On Dec.17, 2013, Delhi Police removed security barricades on the road outside the US Embassy in New Delhi. India demanded an unconditional apology from the American government and asked the details of the salaries of all domestic help, gardeners and other staff employed by the US consulate in India to check for inconsistency or frauds. India moved to block perks such as alcohol and food imports at concessional rates, for embassy employees.
As of now, Devyani has been transferred to Indian Mission which may provide her with diplomatic immunity but it needs to be granted by US and since the case is already registered against her, she is still liable. However, the American court has granted Devyani an exemption from personally appearing in courts for the case.
5) AAP does a U-turn, joins hands with Congress to form the government in Delhi:
Although AAP had insisted that it won’t join hands with both the BJP and the Congress under any circumstances, it took U-turn and joined hands with the Congress to form the government.
Soon after, the same social media that had played a major role in their victory in Delhi turned nasty towards them as many criticised their.move. As soon as the announcement was made, #AAPCON started trending on Twitter.
Although there were many who supported AAP and said it was a good move, many others not only made fun of Arvind Kejriwal and AAP, they also said that it was all an intelligently hatched plan.
Now what is left to see is whether AAP delivers what it promised or people will be disappointed once again.
Whatever may be the result, one thing is pretty clear: Indian politics is changing and it does not revolve around the two political bigwigs the Congress and the BJP anymore. People, especially youth, in India want a change and they have clearly shown what they are capable of if they really want to do something.
So here is that youth hoping for a better 2014 and taking the road to change.