2000-2009: Rights, and wrongs?

Sky is no limit: India’s maiden lunar mission, Chandrayaan, takes off from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh | AP Sky is no limit: India’s maiden lunar mission, Chandrayaan, takes off from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh | AP

A new millennium dawns; with it rises India’s esteem in the west. The information technology wave transforms Bengaluru from retirement city to software capital. Two economic downturns hit the west—one in the early years of the millennium, the other in 2008. India weathers both, and inks a landmark civil nuclear deal with the US. The west starts seeing India as a future economic superpower—a partner rather than an adversary.

A tsunami wreaks havoc. India thanks her friends for extending help, but she ably fends for herself. Gone are the days of waiting for foreign aid. India also becomes benefactor to smaller neighbours, marking a turning point in foreign policy. Development aid becomes a diplomatic tool.

India’s population breaches the billion mark even as nuclear families become the norm. Saas-bahu soaps dominate television; a bahu-turned-matriarch dominates politics. Having led the Congress to a poll victory, Sonia Gandhi decides not to become prime minister. She chooses to be the power behind the throne.

We are only seeing the beginning of convergence of computing and wireless communications. —Mukesh Ambani, chairman, Reliance Industries Ltd

Chandrayaan reaches the moon, and discovers water. A digital revolution sweeps earth. Mobile telephony comes to even villages; landlines are on their way out. MMS clips spark scandals.

It is also a decade of blood and terror. The killing of karsevaks in Godhra sparks riots across Gujarat.

The Parliament building in Delhi is attacked in 2001; Mumbai, too, falls victim to terror seven years later. Ajmal Kasab, one of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai, is caught alive and put on trial. The Maoist insurgency in the heartland continues to claim lives.

India gets two new rights—to information and education. The Right to Information Act becomes so potent a weapon in the hands of the common man that it brings down the very government that passed it.


With the boom in business process outsourcing, India’s IT revolution is in full swing. Many tech start-ups will fizzle out, but India will emerge as a leader in software solutions. Indian techies are in great demand in the west | Getty Images


Five Pakistan-trained terrorists attack Parliament House, killing six security personnel and one civilian staff. The threat of nuclear war looms over the subcontinent, and it takes two years for the standoff on the Line of Control to ease. Afzal Guru, convicted for his role in the attack, is hanged in Tihar Jail in 2013 | AP


Communal violence engulfs Gujarat after the death in Godhra of 59 karsevaks returning from Ayodhya. More than 1,000 people are killed in the ensuing riots | AFP


G.R. Gopinath, retired captain of the Army, launches India’s first low-cost airlines—Air Deccan. The airline does not last long, but Gopinath’s legacy does. The middle class takes to cheap flights, making India one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world | Bhanu Prakash Chandra


An earthquake in the Indian Ocean near Sumatra, Indonesia, on December 26 triggers a series of tsunami waves that strike India’s east coast. More than 12,000 Indians are killed. (above) a woman in cuddalore, tamil nadu, mourns the death of her relatives | Reuters


The Right to Information Act is passed on June 15. Despite a plethora of riders and exemptions, the Act makes the government considerably more accountable. It also gives rise to a new breed of activists who use paper and ink to expose apathy and wrongdoings of those in power. Ironically, the act is such a gamechanger that it leads to the demise of the very coalition that helped bring it | Getty Images


US president George W. Bush and prime minister Manmohan Singh sign a landmark civil nuclear deal that recognises India as a responsible nuclear power. The deal marks the beginning of the end of India’s nuclear isolation, and becomes a crucial stepping stone in strengthening ties between the world’s oldest and largest democracies | AP


In West Bengal, the CPI(M)-led government’s efforts in 2007 to acquire land for a chemical hub in Nandigram spark intense protests. Fourteen villagers are shot dead by the police. Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress leads the protests against the CPI(M), paving the way for her assembly polls victory in 2011 | AFP


A brutal terror attack mars a year of highs. Abhinav Bindra brings home India’s first individual Olympic gold, and ISRO’s Chandrayaan discovers water on the moon.

In November 2008, ten Pakistan-trained terrorists attack multiple locations in Mumbai. More than 160 people are killed. One terrorist, Ajmal Kasab, is captured alive and put on trial. He will later be hange | AMEY MANSABDAR


Rising right-wing vigilantism prompts journalist Nisha Susan to launch a nationwide ‘Pink Chaddi’ campaign. Women begin sending pink innerwear to the office of Pramod Muthalik, chief of the fringe group Sri Ram Sene in Mangalore, who had threatened to marry off young couples seen celebrating Valentine’s Day. (Above) A shopowner in Delhi trying to keep up with the increased demand for pink innerwear | Getty Images