Times come and go, leaving behind footprints of memories and experiences in our consciousness. Each passing moment plays its tiny role in the long sequence of events that goes to make history and disappears, leaving behind a trail from which arise promises of newer times laced with hopes and opportunities for a better future.
2017 has been a most eventful year. India got its new president and vice president, elections were held in seven states, Nitish Kumar rejoined the National Democratic Alliance, India got its first independent woman defence minister, Manushi Chhillar became Miss World and the Indian Space Research Organisation sent a record 104 satellites in a single launch. Also, Rahul Gandhi got himself ‘nominated’ as the new president of the Congress party. Incidentally, this was the only election that Rahul won, thanks to the massive ‘rigging’ that ensured he was the only one to remain in the fray.
2017 will be remembered in the annals of history for more than one reason. It saw many defining moments. Rolling out the Goods and Services Tax, undoubtedly, was one such moment. It laid the foundations of a new India with the maxim ‘One Nation, One Tax’. I believe, in 2018, India would profit from this and the economy would reap the full benefit of this great policy initiative. 2017 also managed to reverse the trajectory of economic growth as the latter half of the financial year saw a much-needed turnaround in the economy. With GDP growth looking up and with green shoots sprouting again in the economy, we may believe that the spectre of a slowdown that lurked in the path—post-demonetisation—is finally behind us.
On the political front, 2017 began with the high note of a landslide victory for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. And, out of the seven state elections that took place, the BJP formed governments in six! 2017 catapulted the BJP to power in 19 states, higher than the number of states the Congress ruled during the heyday of Indira Gandhi.
However, such a development came as a nemesis to the likes of those whose political philosophies are built around various forms of caste and sectarian identities. As a result, 2017 also saw a strong backlash from such forces. The Gujarat election saw the regrouping of the casteist-sectarian ideologies under the Congress and its new leader Rahul Gandhi. However, such regressive ideas built on strong narratives of lies and polemics were rejected by the people of Gujarat who decisively reposed faith in the BJP and its inclusive agenda.
The biggest takeaway of 2017 is the passing of the Muslim Women (Protection on Rights on Marriage) Bill, also known as the triple talaq bill. With the Supreme Court striking down the practice of triple talaq as unconstitutional, a historic opportunity had come our way to rectify the blunders of the Congress governments, that had consciously denied Muslim women their rights in family and society. By passing the bill, we not only liberated Muslim women from the oppression of men, but also made a giant leap in empowering them as equals in the society. This was one of the most important election promises that this government managed to fulfil in the last days of the year. This way, I find 2017 as a landmark year and believe that many of the policy initiatives that we took last year would take roots in 2018 and would go a long way in realising our dream of a new India. Finally, I wish all readers a very happy new year!
Lekhi is member of Parliament.