A Year of Outrages: 2014

That Was the Year that was!

Many a development in 2014 – national as well as international – made us mad. And our reactions ranged from righteous fury to faux indignation as a whirlwind of outrages swirled around all over, all through.

You may ask what exactly does the much-used term outrage mean? Well, an outrage is the spontaneous indignant reaction over something that has happened but should not have. And there are outrages and outrages. They are of various types ranging from garden-variety pique to genuine outburst of spontaneous anger to the simmering thirst for vengeance. All said, outrage is the subjective experience of being furious at something that crosses a perceived limit.


Let me begin with the latest example of outrage: the December 16 horrific attack of the Pakistan Taliban (known as the T.T.P.) on school children in Peshawar. One wishes this horrific massacre generates in Pakistan a discussion about the place of Islam, Islamism and Islamists in a society whose foundational religious nationalism precludes such debate.

People all over the world were just stunned by the depravity of the Taliban attack on a school that killed 148, including 132 children.

This, I believe, is an eloquent example of outrage: as spontaneous as it is genuine. And the year that ends witnessed several examples of such resentful anger.


The Ferguson riots in the USA, like all those that have come before it, the jury in the trial demonstrated once again that jurors are swayed by their racial biases. Have you forgotten To Kill a Mocking Bird? This is particularly true in cases where the evidence pits whites against blacks, where the standard is “reasonable doubt” as in all criminal cases, and where racial stereotypes are permitted to go unchallenged by operation of the legal fiction that race is not an legitimate issue in the case and therefore cannot be mentioned. Sadly, until the American justice system and its juries reflect the actual diversity, and the powerful issue of race is openly and fairly dealt with in racially charged cases, we can expect this racially driven double standard of “justice” to continue unabated with the predictable result of more jarringly unfair verdicts like the one that was so quickly and coldly rendered in the Trayvon Martin case when a 17-year-old African American high school student was shot dead in Stanford, Florida in August 2014.


Muslim invaders as well as Muslim rulers have been playing the proselytizing game not for years and decades, but for centuries. If Hindus are converted no eyebrows are raised. But when Hindus start reconverting the converts, there’s an outrage orchestrated by our secularists who live by double standards.

All the outfits of the extended Hindutva joint family maintain that almost the entire Muslim and Christian population in the country are Hindus by ancestral origin. At some point in history their ancestors were forced to change their religion. I’m afraid there’s ample historical evidence to sustain their claim.

Would a law banning conversions solve the problem? Let’s see what happens in 2015.


The issue of security of women resurfaced when a 27-year-old financial executive was allegedly raped by an Uber cab driver inside his taxi on December 5. Give the devil his due, this time Delhi police didn’t sit on its hands.

Delhi has the dubious distinction of doubling rape cases in 2014 compared to the previous year. And statistics in such cases don’t at all indicate the extent of moral depravity. Most affected women don’t report out of a sense of shame.

Ninety-two women were raped on an average every day during the inglorious year that draws to a close. According to figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the total number of rape cases reported in India has gone up to 33,707 in 2013 from 24,923 in 2012.

The gang rape of a 23-year old student on a public bus, you’ll recall, on 16 December 2012, sparked a mighty outrage across the Capital. She was with a male friend who was severely beaten with an iron rod during the incident. This same rod was used to penetrate her so severely that the victim's intestines had to be surgically removed, before her death thirteen days after the attack.

Do we need every now and then a ghastly rape case to arouse the slumbering law-enforcers to do something against the deep-seated depravity in the act? Wasn’t Saadat Hasan Manto’s poignant and heart wrenching short story “Khol Do” enough of a reminder of the depths of human depravity? If you haven’t, read it.

Year That Was

Have a last lingering look at the year.


As if there was any dearth of deadly diseases, in February surfaced another by the name we hadn’t heard of – the Ebola virus epidemic. And of all the places on the planet, in West Africa. Thousands of people were reported infected. The scare spread far and wide. Coming from Canada and landing at Indira Gandhi International Airport in November. I had to fill a form to declare that I haven’t brought the virus with me!


And talking of death – the ultimate end of human life – Belgium took the lead in legalizing euthanasia for terminally ill patients of any age.


As if there was any dearth of mysteries around, on March 8, a Malaysian Airlines flight en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, disappeared over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board. And now another one disappears as the year draws to a close.


We have learned to live with monsters of all types. To add to world’s miseries, in June a Sunni militant group called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (a.k.a. the ISIS or ISIL) reared its head. It began an offensive through northern Iraq, aiming to capture the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad to overthrow the Shiite government.

Long enduring Sunni-Shia divide knows how to surface and resurface in history of Islam.


I don’t really know what the opium of masses is. Karl Marx said its religion. Many people, including me, disagree with him. Some think – and I don’t disagree with them – it is really football. If you have any doubt, look at West Bengal. (It’s called soccer in North America where it’s played the least.)

Irrespective of whether you are for or against the game, you couldn’t resist watching on July 13 – yes, I remember the date – the 2014 FIFA World Cup final in Brazil. I’ll always remember how German Chancellor Angela Merkel sprang to her feet like a tigress pouncing on its prey when Germany scored the lone goal against the redoubtable Brazilians.


On November 2, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the final part of its Fifth Assessment Report, warning that the world faces “severe, pervasive and irreversible” damage from global emissions of CO2. But who bothers? Certainly not the countries that pollute the climate the most – the most developed i.e., the United States and the fast developing i.e., China and India. However, do shed a tear or two for the sinking Marshall Islands as the sea level rises.


The last month of 2014 witnessed another historic occasion when U.S. President Barack Obama sprang a diplomatic surprise by announcing the resumption of normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba after over half a century of hostilities. Obama who is a smoker should get one of the pipes that the Indians used to smoke and have a puff or two at the ceremony when the hatchet is finally buried.


2014 will always be remembered in Indian history for the NaMo wave. It wasn’t just a wave, in fact. It was an electoral tornado that swept the Indian subcontinent. I’ve heard it called TsuNaMo. It swept aside for what appears a long, long time, the grand old party that thought it was its divine right to rule India.

For the first time in history, the BJP now has, as per a recent study in the Hindu, more state legislators than the Congress across the country. With 1,058 MLAs for the first time, the BJP has also gone from being regionally concentrated to being more geographically spread out than ever before. Some achievement indeed for a party with a tally of two in Lok Sabha in 1984.


The grand old Party – at 129 it can be called both old and senile – is now a mere fringe player on the political horizons. Does the entire credit go to Sonia Gandhi or it is shared by her son too?


Saffron spread in Jharkhand might have given Mamata-di a sleepless night or two.


Delhi saw in 2104 a mighty flash in the electoral pan. With a stunning first-time success in the Delhi polls, the Aam Aadmi Party controlled the capital for 49 days till its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, in his profound wisdom, chose to resign to walk into political wilderness.


The horrific visuals of the carnage that Assam witnessed as 2104 was ending its innings were a grim reminder of the years and decades of neglect on part of the powers-that-be in Delhi towards the deep-rooted problems of the Northeast. The Seven Sisters – aren’t they eight now if we include Sikkim? – have over the years been allowed to languish ever since Independence.

How many roads must a man walk down
Before they call him a man


Jammu & Kashmir dominated news in the year. First, it had the worst flood in recent memory. Secondly, its exceptionally high voter turnover in the recent polls showed its political consciousness. And now the merry circus of who-joins-whom ministry-making.


2014 was also capable of springing surprises. Had you heard of the name Kailash Satyarthi – I hadn’t – before you read one fine morning that he has been awarded Nobel for Peace for his work among children? His co-sharer of the prize, Malala Yousafzai was not unknown.


Authorities on international relations tell us that the five years – from 2008 and late 2013 – were a benign period of big power politics. We almost forgot all about the global financial meltdown of 2008. Isn’t it time we get ready for another global economic crisis? And the trigger may come from falling crude prices which is almost certain to destabilize the hitherto well-protected global oil price system. Remember what the Japanese called “Oil Shaku” of the 1970’s?

The villain of the peace may be increasing share of shale oil that both USA and Canada are amply endowed with. Understandable indeed is the Saudi concerted effort to prevent a drastic change in the old oil pricing regime. It is very likely that oil prices will be the roller coaster of 2015.


The practice of choosing a Man of the Year is, like Coca Cola, very much American. And everyone seems to have fallen for it. My choice is the man behind the Man of the Year. Of course, I’m referring to Amit Shah – Narendra Modi’s Man Friday. In fact poor dear Sonia Gandhi needs him the most for his electoral Midas touch.


Who was the first wise one who warned us “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future” or a variant thereof? There are numerous claimants for the truism – ranging from Confucius to Mark Twain. I cannot, therefore, stake a claim for myself. However, one thing I can predict: 2015 will be either better or worse than the year that ends. Which of the two will it be, depends whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist. I’m, like, Alexander Pope, a firm believer that “Hope springs eternal in the human breast” –or wherever else it may choose to spring from. Above all, haven’t we been promised achhe din?

So, brushing aside all untoward signals, A Happy New Year!


More by :  H.N. Bali

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Views: 3250      Comments: 1

Comment An interesting summary of the year just bygone.
A Happy New Year to you sir!
You have been an informative and thoughtful author throughout the year.

04-Jan-2015 08:18 AM

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