The year 2008 had been volatile with India emerging high as well as seeing some low. I have here some 10 events of 2008 that gave me a lot of hope and happiness, though some even very personal.
1.Indo US Civil Nuclear Deal: Finally after almost three years or more of hard work that saw many worrying moments, on October 9 President George W Bush signed the Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement it into a law after the approval of US lawmakers. In some what exceptional way, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved nuclear safeguards agreement with India, and then on September 6, 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group approved Indo-US civil nuclear deal. Naturally the credit of the Deal must go to the perseverance and shrewd political moves of Man Mohan Singh. And I hope by now India would have arranged sufficient of uranium fuels to run its existing nuclear plants that were starving for the fuel at the optimum of efficiency.
2.Unique Indian Innovation: Ratan Tata unveiled the world’s cheapest car, the Rs 1-lakh Nano, at the ninth Auto Expo in Delhi on January 10 and got the accolades from the auto experts from all over the globe. Tata Motors went for the speediest possible implementation for productionizing Nano at Singur, West Bengal. However, on October 3, Tata Motors had to pull out the Rs 1-lakh Nano project from Singur. Rattan Tata told the West Bengal CM, Buddhadev Bhattacharya with a heavy heart that the situation at the factory site in Singur not suitable for further work, owing to the agitation led by Trinamool Congress leader, Mamata Banerjee who had become the villain to sabotage this great national project that could have become a pride for India. On October 7, indomitable Ratan Tata signed agreement with Gujarat CM Narendra Modi to set up the Nano car manufacturing plant in Sanand, 30 km from Ahmedabad. India will have to wait till 2009 end to get Nanos in number. Singur became a part of failed India and its politicians. With the global meltdown, particularly affecting the auto industry world over, people will still wait for Nano, if it proves itself as necessity in every family.
3.Historic Waiver: Union Budget on February 29 announced the biggest-ever loan waiver for farmers in Indian fiscal history at Rs 60,000 crore (perhaps much more) benefitting about 30 million small and marginal farmers. Some have questions. Are the farmers smiling? Will it prove as disincentive for those who regularly return their loans?
4.Indian Automaker Becoming Global Player: Tata Motors on March 26 acquired Jaguar and Land Rover of UK from Ford Motors for $2.3 billion in cash, the largest acquisition by an Indian company in the automobile business. Will Tata Motors succeed where Ford with all its technical strength and deep pocket failed? Perhaps it will be a challenge as well as an opportunity to the Indian entrepreneurial and managerial talent? Ratan Tata has become one of the most visible CEO in global media titles. No one could even dream the height he has reached when he took over from legendary JRD Tata with so many dissenting oldies heading Tata enterprises.
5.Expanding Mobile Market: July saw the addition of mobile users at 9.22 million. Some considered that as record. But now the monthly figure of additions has gone up to 10 million or more. Indians bought 5,000 mobile phones every day of the year total number of mobile phones subscribers in the country reaching to 325 million. And it is not only mobile phones, even the shipments of consumers notebooks grew by 141% during the first quarter of 2008, according to International Data Corporation, India.
6.Maiden Lunar Mission: On November 8, Indian maiden unmanned moon mission, Chandrayaan-I of ISRO entered the lunar orbit. On November 14, Chandrayaan-I sent exploratory stick on the moon. India becomes the fourth nation to mark its presence on the lunar surface. And the scientists and technocrats of ISRO are making the organization globally important and earning revenues too. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully conducted the flight acceptance “hot test” of an indigenous Cryogenic Engine. ISRO has already completed the design of Chandayaan-II ISRO is earning about Rs 10 billion (Rs 1,000 crore) annually from its commercial wing. This is expected to grow at 20 percent per year. Can some of the researches and innovations at ISRO be transformed into products in demand world over?
7.A World Class Company: Reliance Petroleum commissioned a second refinery in Jamnagar on December 25. The Rs 25,000-crore refinery, with processing capacity of 580,000 barrels a day, is the sixth largest refinery in the world. Together with the existing Reliance Industries’ refinery, the total capacity of the complex will go up to 1.24 million barrels a day making it the largest in the world at a single location. The refinery, with a Nelson complexity index of 14, is capable of refining low quality crude oil and producing high quality fuels, which will boost its margins.
8.Envious Neighbour 26/11: In multi-location attacks in Mumbai at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Oberoi Trident, and the Orthodox Jewish-owned Nariman House, Pakistani terrorists armed with machine-gun and grenades killed at least 183 people and injured 308. Will the people protests end with the resignations of ministers or the country’s government come out with long-term measures that don’t allow it to happen again? Will the neighbour have its change of heart without any punitive action from India? Will it take a lesson from the exhilarating participation of the people of J&K in its recent assembly election and its message? (Read Prem Shankar Jha’s views. ‘A new way has dawned’.
9.Barrack Obama Win and America: On November 4, Barack Obama, 47, got elected the 44th president of the United States becoming the first African-American to hold the post. Americans proved their liberal and secular depth and took its democracy at its unprecedented height. Will it be a lesson for Indians? Can Indians prioritize their identity as Indian and the interest of India over all other practiced in reality?
Let 2009 see the end of the global slowdown fast. With so much of talent available, it will be really a sad thing if the people who matter can’t find out an effective and fast solution to overcome the misery of the meltdown.
Wishing A Happy New Year 2009 For All.