The twelve – and more- men, who made 2014 special
2014 may just go down as the annus horribilis for Indian Men. The events that transpired during the year didn’t show them in the best of light, did they? Our deeply rooted patriarchy saw its norms being questioned and its motives prodded in a way that must have felt deeply uncomfortable. Infact, one of the highlights of the year was Kamla Bhasin questioning the very idea of Indian manhood and the burden it imposes upon our men earlier this year.
But – almost in defiance of society- a bunch of men continue to tirelessly work towards making Indian a better place for everyone. When we highlighted the 15 greatest feminist moments of the year in a piece earlier this month, we realised that there were so many other moments of quiet satisfaction and seismic changes that we couldn’t quite cover in that list. And hence, here is our list of the 12 male newsmakers- one for each month- who made 2014 such an interesting year in so many ways.
It is easy to dismiss Arnab Goswami as a blowhard with little regard for anyone’s voice but his own. But there is much to celebrate in his no-holds-barred style of interviewing, refusal to be intimidated by the powers that be, and in the way he has turned Times Now into a behemoth. He signalled the start of the election silly season with Rahul Gandhi’s interview in January this year. And as a symbol of a clueless political class, and the increasing strength of social media, that hour of television remains a priceless artefact.
Whenever we draw up our wishlist for a better India, a better public transport system is right at the top of the list. That is why we have to give February to the men (and women) behind the Mumbai Monorail. While reviews of the service are mixed, and as always there are allegations of political undertones to the whole project, there is no denying that it helps connect a neglected part of the city with the mainstream, and helped a small portion of the overburdened metropolis breathe.
We will do our Bollywood roundups later this month, but -*spoiler alert- one of our favourite movies of the year was the sleeper hit Ankhon Dekhi- the definitive Delhi movie. All those new age directors may just as well give up, because there is no way they can compete with this Becket-by-way-of-Chandni-Chowk film directed by Rajat Kapoor. For the many beautifully realised moments, and the sly social commentary, the month belongs to him.
A bit of our faith in the Indian Judicial System died in December 2013 when the Supreme Court re-instated the tenets of Section 377. But -like in everything else in India- things seem to move one step forward and one step backwards when it comes to human rights. And in April this year Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice AK Sikri ushered in a brand-new way of thinking by recognizing transgenders as the “third” gender with all the rights of the other two; and as a socially and economically backwards class who were entitled to reservations in jobs.
Also notably, this was the month Arunachalam Murugunanthan was selected as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the Year for his Sanitary Pad revolution. A huzzah to these men for bringing all genders closer to their dreams of equality.
While May may ostensibly belong to the people behind ensuring these large elections were carried out (reasonably) peacefully, and to our new Prime Minister,it belongs just as much to the tireless journalists who continue to challenge authority. So credit to Paresh Nath and Anant Nath of Caravan, and to journalist Dinesh Narayanan for publishing a hard hitting expose of the RSS,and to Rajdeep Sardesai for leaving CNN IBN when he didn’t fit in with the ideology of its new owners.
Though the IPL may be a dying beast (please, fingers crossed), there is no denying those glimmers of talent it unearths, none more so than in the wonderfully insouciant Manish Pandey, whose playful 94 won Kolkata Knight Riders its second trophy.
“Being a Bengali, one is surprised when all the endless spume and froth of talk suddenly reveals itself to be the front of a gigantic wave of action.”
After the heights of an early 90s- when Rushdie and Seth made news for their gigantic payouts and stellar reviews- Indian Writing in English has settled down into a comfortable pattern . A few good writers continue to challenge form and convention, but it hasn’t been easy for them to find the kind of international acceptance of their predecessors. So kudos to Neel Mukherjee for making it to the Man Booker Longlist (and then shortlist), for the exceedingly well-reviewed Lives of Others.
What better way than to erase the traumatic memories of the Delhi Commonwealth Games, than to win medals in the Glasgow edition- proving once and for all that we are at the cusp of a new era where India can actually be competitive in International sports! A slow round of applause goes to marksmen Abhinav Bindra and Jitu Rai, wrestlers Amit Kumar, Vinesh Phogat, Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, weightlifters Sukhen Dey and Sathish Shivalalingam, athlete Vikas Gowda and shuttler Kashyap Parupalli for bringing home the gold (along with their female compatriots Sanjita Khumukchan, Apurvi Chandela, Rahi Sarnobat, Babita Kumari and Dipika Palikkal!)
Yes- politics was involved- but how refreshing for Special Judge John Michael D’Cunha to actually convict Jayalalithaa to four years of imprisonment in the disproportionate assets case. While she may be out on bail now, it is good to have that occasional reminder that our judiciary still has teeth!
The month belonged to the triumvirate of Basharat Peer, Vishal Bharadwaj and Gulzaar who between them wrote every single word and moment of the clever and haunting Haider. Ably supported by the luminescence of Tabu, their words crackled on the scene with unusual chutzpah (hehe) exposing a time and place that many would prefer not be reminded of.
Lest anyone forget that Rohit Sharma can bat, he surprises you once in a decade with an innings like the one he played to make 264 runs against Sri Lanka, and while we’d like to give the month to Srikanth Kidambi for winning the China Open, we take this chance to recognise Pullela Gopichand and the army of winning shuttlers he has created in the last five years. Bharat Ratna for Gopichand, please!
And so it ends, a mixed bag of a year- with more lows than highs perhaps, but enough bright moments to ensure that we dreamers and optimists live to hope for better next year. In what was perhaps the worst month of the year, there was a glimmer of hope in the speeches made by Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi as they shared the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. So let’s move on to a better year with greater equality between the sexes and the social classes, using these words from his powerful speech as a near mantra.
I refuse to accept that all the temples and mosques and churches and prayer houses have no place for the dreams of our children.
I refuse to accept that the world is so poor, when just one week of global spending on armies is enough to bring all of our children into classrooms.
I refuse to accept that all the laws and constitutions, and the judges and the police are not able to protect our children.
I refuse to accept that the shackles of slavery can ever be stronger than the quest for freedom.
I REFUSE TO ACCEPT.
Don’t forget to catch up with the rest of our Best of 2014 coverage here!