Big fat Indian weddings
In 2018 many renowned personalities tied the knot in private ceremonies or in lavish receptions. Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor tied the knot with fashion entrepreneur Anand Ahuja in May. In November Bollywood couple Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh got married in Lake Como, Italy in a private ceremony. Shortly after the Ranveer-Deepika wedding, actress Priyanka Chopra got married to American singer, actor, and songwriter Nick Jonas in Jodhpur in a private affair. This was followed by India's most expensive wedding on December 12, 2018, when Isha Ambani, the daughter of business tycoon Mukesh Ambani tied the knot with Anand Piramal, the son of industrialist Ajay Piramal in a starry affair.
The MeToo campaign gained momentum in India when when actress Tanushree accused actor Nana Patekar of sexual harassment. Soon women from across industries including Bollywood, government and media came out and shared their stories of sexual harassment and trauma on social media. Veteran Bollywood director Subhash Ghai, Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs M. J. Akbar, filmmaker Luv Ranjan, artist Subodh Gupta, choreographer Sajid Khan, actor Alok Nath, comedian Utsav Chakraborty and editor Prashant Jha were few other personalities accused of sexual harassment.
In February 2018, a massive Rs 11,400 crore fraud was unearthed in a PNB branch in Mumbai after which the Enforcement Directorate launched a nationwide raid on the offices, showrooms and workshops of billionaire diamond trader Nirav Modi. ED teams carried out simultaneous raids on Modi's offices, showrooms and diamond workshops in Mumbai, Surat (Gujarat) and New Delhi. ED officials landed at Firestar Diamond Pvt Ltd. head office in Bharat Diamond Bourse, in Bandra Kurla Complex, Modi's private office at Kohinoor City in Kurla West, his showroom and boutique in Fort in south Mumbai and a workshop in Peninsula Business Park in Lower Parel. Modi, who is currently absconding is wanted by the Interpol for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonesty
Famous personalities bid adieu
Former prime minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee (16 August), legendary actress Sridevi (24 February) and ex-president of USA George Bush (November 30) were few of the many renowned personalities the world lost in 2018. Nana Chudasama, the former Mayor of Mumbai passed away on December 23, 2018 while renowned physicist Stephen Hawking died on 14 March. Comic book legend, Stan Lee passed away on November 12 aged 95 and DMK chief and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi died in August aged 94 years. Other notable personalities who died in 2018 were, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, renowned Hollywood actor Burt Reynolds, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and veteran actress Rita Bhaduri
Vijay Mallya extradition case
In a major boost to India, a UK court, on December 10, 2018, ordered the extradition of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya from Britain to India. The government of India welcomed the verdict. The 62-year-old former Rajya Sabha member, Vijay Mallya left India in 2016 on a self-imposed exile in London. Mallya is wanted for fraud and money laundering charges amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crore
Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist, author, and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News channel was allegedly tortured and killed by agents of the Saudi government at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018. The Turkish government accused Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman of plotting the brutal assassination of Khashoggi. Initially, the Saudi government denied the death, claiming Khashoggi had left the consulate alive. However, after global pressures kept mounting following evidence from Turkish officials, the Saudi officials admitted Khashoggi was killed with a lethal injection after a struggle and his body was dismembered inside the consulate after his death. The Saudi government also stated that they had suspended 5 officials and detained 18 others for their alleged role into the killing
Between August 9 to August 17, monsoon rains lashed Kerala which led to severe floods in Kerala in the early parts of August. The consequent deluge led to severe destruction with over 480 people dead and more than a million people displaced from their homes and forced to take shelter in relief camps. Experts said that the devastating floods in Kerala were a result of climate change
Ghatkopar plane crash
Five persons including a pedestrian were killed when a small chartered plane crashed in the thickly populated suburb of Ghatkopar in north-east Mumbai on 28 June 2018. The small aircraft was on a test run when it caught fire mid-air, the pilot used his presence of mind by guiding the aircraft to an under-construction plot, thus limiting loss of lives.
In September 2016, prime minister Narendra Modi's government signed a defence deal with France, in which India would buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from French-manufacturer Dassault at a cost of 7.8 billion Euros or Rs. 58,000 crore. The deal originally signed with the UPA government in 2012, started with the procurement of 126 fighter jets and switched to a 36 fighter jet deal later. However, the deal soon became a centre of controversy with the Congress alleging that the Modi government signed the contract with France at a much higher price and that the cost of each Rafale aircraft was more than what the previous UPA had negotiated with France in 2012.
On December 14, 2018, the Supreme Court in its epic judgement said that there is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process of the Modi government and dismissed all the petitions seeking direction to the CBI to register an FIR for alleged irregularities in the jet deal. The petitions were filed before the Supreme Court seeking explanations about the pricing, and the choice of Anil-Ambani's firm as the partner.
Ola, Uber strike
Drivers of cab aggregators, Ola and Uber drivers, went on an indefinite strike on October 22 over pay hike. After calling the strike off during the festival season, the drivers went offline again on November 15 citing that the government had failed to look into their demands. The two strikes inconvenienced commuters in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and other nearby areas.
The strike was finally called off on November 20 after the intervention of Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who assured the union that he would convene a meeting with the driver partners and union leaders post the winter session.
Indonesia plane crash
On October 20, 2018, an Indonesian flight Lion Air plane JT610 crashed into the sea off Jakarta, killing all 189 on board. Authorities and experts are still looking for answers as investigations are yet to ascertain the exact cause of the crash of the Boeing aircraft. On November 2, 2018, Indonesian navy divers managed to recover the wheels of the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610, from the sea, north of Karawang. Seats, wheels and other parts of a crashed Indonesian Lion Air jet were subsequently recovered by the search teams from the depths of the Java Sea. The Lion Air jet crash is believed to be Indonesia's deadliest aviation accident since 1997
Irrfan and Sonali battle diseases to emerge victorious
In March 2018 actor Irrfan had revealed that he was diagnosed with a rare tumour. Irrfan had penned a heartfelt letter about how life-changing the disease was for him, and how it made him realise "how you are just a cork floating in the ocean with unpredictable currents".
In July 2018, actress Sonali Bendre, in an official statement, revealed that she is suffering from high-grade cancer. Sonali even travelled to New York for further treatment. The actress successfully completed her treatment and came back to Mumbai.
From decriminalisation of homosexuality to striking down adultery as a criminal offence, 2018 was the year of epic judgements taken by the Supreme Court of India. We highlight few landmark judgements
The Supreme Court on 6 September 2018 struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which deemed that gay sex is a criminal offence
The Supreme Court on 26 September, 2018 declared the Centre's flagship Aadhar scheme as Constitutionally valid. The apex court's five-judge Constitution ruled that Aadhar will not be required for opening bank accounts, to get mobile phone connections and admission in schools. The apex court struck down Section 57 of Aadhaar Act which allows private entities to ask for Aadhaar to access services.
The Supreme Court made a landmark judgement on September 28, 2018, ending the age-old ban on women between the ages of 10 and 50 years (or women of "menstruating age") from entering Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Several women activists came forward and hailed the Supreme court's judgement claiming the judgement as a victory for gender equality
People from the Maratha community across Maharashtra went on a silent protest march seeking reservations in jobs and education for the Maratha community. The Maratha Kranti Morcha an outfit spearheading agitation for quota for the Marathas in jobs and education called a 'Mumbai bandh' on July 25, 2018. However, the protest rally took an ugly turn as violence erupted in few areas resulting in police lathi-charge and even deaths. The Maharashtra government on November 28, 2018, proposed a 6 per cent reservation for Marathas under the socially and educationally backward category.
Thai cave rescue
In June 2018, a 12-member boys soccer team (the Wild Boars) and their coach who were celebrating a teammate's birthday got trapped deep inside a flooded cave in the Chiang Rai province of Thailand. A dramatic rescue mission involving Thail Navy Seals, policemen and rescue workers from various organisations was launched and they were brought out in July. there was one casualty during the rescue mission when a former Thai Navy SEAL died of asphyxiation
Puerto Rico hurricane devastation
Hurricane Maria killed 2,975 people in Puerto Rico, but more devasting and shocking was the fact that much of Puerto Rico was left without electricity - for almost an entire year. The lack of power supply was an ongoing issue as state-owned utility companies struggled to provide supplies and restore power to more than 1.4 million residents after the hurricane had struck the Island nation. It was the international community that came to the aid of Puerto Rico people as funds were set up and donations were collected to assist the distraught people by providing water filters, solar lights, etc. Representational Picture
K Chandrashekar Rao sworn in as CM for the second term
K Chandrashekar Rao who led his party TRS to a massive victory in the December 7 assembly elections, was sworn-in as the chief minister of Telangana for a second straight term. KCR, who is popularly known as Rao was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor E S L Narasimhan at a simple ceremony on the lawns of Raj Bhavan.
Tsunami strikes Indonesia
A tsunami hit the coast on Indonesia's Sunda Strait possibly following undersea landslides after the Krakatoa volcano erupted on December 23, 2018. According to reports on December 26, 1,485 people were injured, 154 remained missing, while 16,082 people sought safety and shelter away from their houses.
First Indian woman fighter pilot to fly solo
Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi created history when she became the first Indian woman fighter pilot to fly solo. Chaturvedi flew a MiG-21 Bison in her first training solo sortie, in Jamnagar, Gujarat. Avani who hails from Rewa district in Madhya Pradesh was declared as the first combat pilot along with two of her cohort, Mohana Singh, and Bhawana Kanth. The trio were inducted into the Indian Air Force fighter squadron on June 18, 2016. They were formally commissioned by then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Chaturvedi's feat put India on the list of countries such as Britain, the United States, Israel, and Pakistan, where women are allowed to fly fighter jets.
Sania Mirza blessed with a baby boy
India tennis ace Sania Mirza and her husband Shoaib Malik were blessed with a baby boy on October 30, 2018. Sania delivered the child in Hyderabad and the star couple named the little one Izhaan Mirza-Malik.
After getting engaged in 2009, Sania Mirza married Shoaib Malik in a traditional Hyderabadi Muslim wedding ceremony on April 12, 2010. Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik announced they were pregnant in April 2018. Sania Mirza is considered one of the finest tennis stars in India and she is also a multiple Grand Slam winner (3 times).
Akash Ambani gets engaged to Shloka Mehta
Mukesh Ambani's eldest son Akash Ambani got engaged to diamantaire Russell Mehta's daughter Shloka Mehta in a private ceremony held at Goa on March 24, 2018. The engagement was a private affair and the couple held an official engagement ceremony later for friends and relatives. Shloka and Akash have been longtime friends and even studied together at the Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai. The couple is set to tie the know early next year.
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica scandal
March 2018 saw one of the biggest scandals being unearthed when Data firm Cambridge Analytica accessed data from 50 million Facebook users during the 2016 US presidential campaign without the users' permission. The data breach had managed to gather information about Facebook users' identities, networks, and "likes" in order to better identify their voting behaviour during the US Presidential elections. Later, the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) fined Facebook 5,00,000 pounds for serious breaches of data protection law, the maximum amount it is authorised to issue.
From #MeToo movement to India's biggest banking fraud, from devastating floods to dramatic rescue operations, from celebrity weddings to landmark judgements by the Supreme Court of India, we look at events that grabbed the headlines in 2018
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