India welcomed 2017 on a low ‘note’ with the economy still trying to recover from the shock of demonetisation. From farmer suicides to #MeToo and women’s cricket, the mainstream media was never short of headlines. However, there were a few events and applications that shot to fame in 2017 in India and have set stage for the year ahead. Here’s a quick rundown of a few prominent influencers that 2018 is set to inherit:
Even as the Indian economy was recuperating from the surgical strike of demonetisation, it was subjected to yet another disruption. On July 1, the country embraced a unified taxation regime under the Goods and Services Tax. After more than a decade of planning and revisions, the Narendra Modi led government deserves its due praise in implementing what successive governments were delaying for years. However, like most of the other reforms, GST also was a far cry from a smooth transition. Multiple tax slabs, online filing of returns, and a number of other migrational hurdles proved GST an executional nightmare. The government was receptive of the popular sentiments around GST and is continuing to revise items under different slabs. Undoubtedly, 2017 was a milestone year of economic disruptions in India, and GST tops the list.
Chatbots might not be the discovery of 2017, but the term became an everyday vocabulary this year with everything from banks to online concierge services leveraging the technology for customer interaction. A chatbot or “chatter robot” is a computer program that mimics human conversations in its natural format, including texts or spoken languages, using AI techniques. These chatbots simulate a conversation or interaction with a real person. In India, chatbots received a shot in its arm after companies in the financial sector and e-commerce players started adopting chatbots for customer interaction, real-time updates and assisted online commerce. From SBI to HDFC to Bajaj Allianz and Lenskart, chatbots are increasingly becoming mainstream and a business necessity in the country.
In October, the ICC gave its green signal to conduct four–day Tests on a trial basis. The inaugural four-day Test between South Africa and Zimbabwe will be conducted between December 26 and 29 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. According to the ICC, four-day Tests will need to have a minimum of 98 overs per day. The match duration per day will be six-and-a-half hours, as opposed to the six hours for five-day Tests. Four-day Tests was proposed in view of the fact that an increasing number of matches are getting wrapped up in less than 100 overs. The fifth day saved could be rightly converted into more number of Tests, thus opening new avenues for revenue. Though the world is taking to it, Indian cricket fans will have to wait for a while as the BCCI has decided against implementing the format here.
A video assistant referee, or VAR, is a match official who watches a football match in real-time and coordinates with the ground referee to aid the latter in decision-making. Similar to the third-umpire in cricket, a VAR reviews a video footage, who advise the referee via headset what the video shows. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has identified four incidents when a referee can refer to a VAR—goals, penalty decisions, red card incidents and mistaken identity. Though a live trial of the VAR system began in August 2016, it was widely adopted in matches across the world this year. Australia's A-League became the first to use the system in a professional league game when it was deployed in a match between Melbourne City and Adelaide United. The objective of introducing VAR is “not to achieve 100% accuracy for all decisions but rather to swiftly remedy clear mistakes in match-changing situations", according to IFAB.
With the controversies surrounding the refereeing during the U-17 World Cup held in India, hopefully, the technology will soon be implemented for future ISL matches.
‘Cringe pop’ is defined as a genre of pop music, wherein the music and music videos are “so bad that you cannot stop watching them”. From lyrics that mean hardly anything to lyrics that are out-rightly offensive, this new form of music that has no rhyme, time and reason, cringe pop has managed to win legions of generation Y admirers. There were youngsters who gathered at random places to move their lips and legs to the tune (if you call it that) of 'bol na aunty aau kya' of Omprakash Mishra. It is his creative freedom, they argued, while defending Mishra's misogyny. The other star, Dhinchak Pooja, even managed to have admirers who went on to create fan pages. Clearly, 2017 was a year when music and ears sustained an assault like no other.