A Year Best For­got­ten

And go­ing by the few who did have it good in 2016, there’s more bad news on the way

India Today - - FREEDOMS - By RUCHIR JOSHI

YES, YES, WE KNOW. It’s go­ing to get worse be­fore it gets bet­ter. That dis­tant glow we can see be­yond the bend in the tun­nel may just be a bulb mark­ing the half­way point—the ac­tual end may be much fur­ther away. Yes, if in 2014 we were star­ing into the abyss, now we are in full plunge, wait­ing for some hook or pro­tu­ber­ance from the side to catch us and keep us from falling fur­ther, so let’s not even talk of ‘climb­ing out of the hole’ just yet. It’s too soon to know where ex­actly we can place 2016 in the anni hor­ri­bili rank­ings, and of course dif­fer­ent groups of peo­ple (and dif­fer­ent coun­tries) will have very dif­fer­ent rank­ings, but even so it’s clear that the just-de­parted ’16 was a clas­sic, one of those years at which you will look back and shud­der, one of those which will pro­vide end­less party-game fun in the fu­ture, as peo­ple com­pete to name their worst mo­ment from a year that was full of them.

Per­haps one can ar­gue that it wasn’t the fault of poor, in­no­cent 2016 at all, that a lot of what hap­pened dur­ing its 12-month pe­riod can be put at the door of the crim­i­nals, say 2001, 2003, 2007 and 2014, or even that no­to­ri­ous old trio of gang­sters, 1989, 1991 and 1992. That, how­ever, is a fruit­less ar­gu­ment, for each of the other ac­cused could equally well blame some other year, or pe­riod, that pre­ceded and be­got them. As the Bea­tles sang, ‘Sun­day’s on the phone to Mon­day, Tues­day’s on the phone to me.’

Al­ter­na­tively, one could also turn the whole thing up­side down and ask: who says 2016 was a ghastly year? Surely we can see that 2016 has been an epi­cally amaz­ing and happy-mak­ing year for some peo­ple. West Ben­gal Chief Min­is­ter Ma­mata Ban­er­jee, for ex­am­ple, would have be­gun her 2016 with far more anx­i­ety, fear and ner­vous­ness than she ended it. In Jan­uary, we who were about to get a whole poul­try­farm’s worth of egg on our faces were cheer­fully pre­dict­ing that in the state elec­tions the TMC would have a tough fight to stay in power. By March, the cor­rup­tion ac­cu­sa­tions and the col­lapsed fly­over in north Cal­cutta

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