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The 15 newsmakers of 2017

Last updated on: December 28, 2017 14:41 IST

Donald Trump, Hardik Patel, Kangana Ranuat… The year 2017 wouldn’t have been the same if it weren't for these personalities and many more.

As we herald in 2018, here's a look at the faces and stories which left an indelible mark on us.

 

Rediff.com presents its list of newsmakers for the year 2017.

(Click on the newsmaker to read more)

GST

It has been called the Good and Simple Tax and the Gabbar Singh Tax depending on where you sit in Parliament.

Launching the Goods and Services Tax in July 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it will end harassment of traders and small businesses while integrating India into one market with one tax rate. In October, then Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi (he's now the president of the party) said GST has virtually forced small traders to shut shop causing losses to the exchequer.

While the jury is still out on which standpoint is right, what GST aims to do is to be a single tax on the supply of goods and services, right from the manufacturer to the consumer. GST, the government says, ensures that indirect tax rates and structures are common across the country, thereby increasing certainty and ease of doing business.

So, is it really good? The economy hopes so.

Ram Rahim

Call him Ram Rahim, 'Insan', 'Baba', or 'Messenger of God', the Dera Sacha Sauda chief was unmissable in 2017.

In August, he was convicted of raping two female disciples, which led to widespread violence in Haryana in which 41 people died and scores were injured.

The Dera chief is now in a jail in Rohtak, serving a 20-year sentence.

Most of the jailed sect chief's aides including Honeypreet Insaan, who remained on the run after his conviction, were arrested as Haryana Police registered 173 FIRs with nearly 1,000 Dera followers named as accused and booked on various charges.

Rajkummar Rao

It was Dibakar Banerjee's Love, Sex Aur Dhoka that technically marked the debut of Rajkummar Rao but Abhishek Kapoor's Kai Po Che was what really propelled him to notable acclaim in the industry.

Years later, 2017 is his year. Even though he wasn't the lead in Bareilly Ki Barfi, the audience couldn't stop praising him for his acting chops.

Next, Rajkummar delivered an amazing one-man show with Trapped. And then came the icing on the cake with Newton, which not only won Rao accolades for his acting, but also won the International Federation of Art Cinemas award at the Berlin Film Festival and was India's entry at the Oscars.

We can definitely say that 2017 will be remembered as Rao's year.

Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman was thrust into the limelight on September 3 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi picked her as the nation's first full-time woman defence minister.

The decision raised eyebrows, some questioning if she was the right choice for one of the most important portfolios of the country.

However, the no-nonsense, outspoken minister has taken on the responsibility with vigour, stating that her priorities are military preparedness, defence indigenisation and the welfare of the soldiers.

#MeToo movement

The dirty secret of sexual molestation in Hollywood was outed this year with brave women detailing countless allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The expose in the New York Times snowballed into a bigger movement with others coming forward against other high-profile men such as Dustin Hoffman, Matt Lauer, Slyvester Stallone, Ben Affleck, George Bush and American politicians, including US President Donald Trump.

Soon, personal stories began pouring in from women in all industries across the world, and the hashtag #MeToo became a rallying cry against sexual assault and harassment.

The #MeToo hashtag has been used more than 1 million times in the US, Europe, the Middle East and beyond.

Facebook said that within 24 hours, 4.7 million people around the world engaged in the #MeToo conversation, with over 12 million posts, comments, and reactions.

So strong was the movement and so loud were the voices that Time Magazine even named the 'silence breakers' the 2017 person of the year.

Kim Jong-un

If US President Donald Trump is one of our newsmakers, then it can't be possible to not have North Korea's Kim Jong-un on the list.

When the 'Great Successor' took over from his father, many believed that he would bring in sweeping reforms. However, those hopes died as quickly as the 300-odd people he executed, some in public with firing squads.

And if that wasn't something to be afraid of, then his unrelenting and accelerating nuclear ambitions -- he launched the first of several missiles capable of reaching Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago. In September, he tested what the US believed was a nuclear warhead that would fit on top of one of those missiles; And in the early-morning dark of November 29, North Korea test-fired a missile capable of reaching Washington, DC, and New York City. Its arc rose 10 times higher than the International Space Station -- is sure to make people wonder if the world is on the brink of a third war.

Kangana Ranaut

The 'Queen' of Bollywood grabbed eyeballs and headlines in 2017 when she was unusually candid about her relationship with Hrithik Roshan and taking on the industry over 'nepotism'.

In a string of explosive interviews earlier this year, Kangana spoke of sexual harassment and her relationship with Hrithik Roshan.

She also took on Karan Johar calling him the 'flagbearer of nepotism', a comment that sparked an entire debate, which led to her Rangoon co-star Saif Ali Khan comparing artists to horses (huh!).

The actress may not have had big hits on the silver screen in 2017, but she sure was a big hit off screen and for that we love her!

The Supreme Court of India

Move aside politicians, social activists and sportspersons because in 2017, India found a new superhero: The Indian Judiciary!

Faith in the Indian judiciary was validated when the Supreme Court passed iconic judgments that shook the nation.

On August 24, the apex court declared that the Right to Privacy is now a fundamental right and is protected under Article 21 of the Constitution. The ramifications of this ruling are far and wide, many indicating that right to privacy is valid even in the context of Section 377.

The court stood up for women's rights this year; first, by striking down the Muslim practice of instant Triple Talaq and then by ruling that temples have no constitutional right to ban women from entering the premises.

Hardik Patel

There are many highlights and takeaways from the Gujarat elections. But, the one that stands out is the emergence of Hardik Patel as one of the strongest leaders.

Coming from the Kadva Patel community, the 24-year-old firebrand leader drew in crowds that few first-timers would dream of.

He came to the forefront of state politics after he launched an agitation for quotas in jobs and education for the Patel community.

And Hardik isn't one of those who back down or cower. Despite an alleged sex tape of him emerging before the polls, the youngster kept going with his rallies, drumming up support for the Congress. He was unfazed by the opposition and kept going.

In fact, many say that if the Gujarat election turned out to be so close, it is because Hardik stole the Bharatiya Janata Party's social base. It was Hardik who encouraged and directed young Patidars to rebel from the old voting habits of their parents and shed their aversion to the Congress.

Yogi Adityanath

In March, the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party stunned one and all when it named Ajay Singh Bisht, or as we know him Yogi Adityanath, as the 32nd chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

The 44-year-old five-term MP from Gorakhpur is a hardline Hindutva leader. He's had his share of controversy with his speeches. However, all that changed when he became the CM of the state.

Soon after he was sworn in, Yogi said his government would for balanced development of all sections "without discrimination" and accused past governments of being responsible for the sorry state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh.

However, he faced his first test following the deaths of over 70 infants in Gorakhpur hospitals due to the lack of oxygen tanks.

He later kicked up a storm again when he drew an uncalled for comparison between Eid "namaz" and Janmashtami celebrations.

And while we haven't seen any notable change in UP just yet, what What he is really up to remains a million-dollar question

Donald Trump

Love him, loathe him or think him to be a fool, there's no doubt that United States President Donald Trump dominated 2017. Trump has used his first year in office to considerable effect -- he has backed out of multilateral trade deals and edged closer to nuclear ­confrontation with North Korea.

However, the actual hallmark of US President Trump is that he has changed the presidency. The passing feuds with North Korea and the accompanied name calling (remember he called Kim Jong-un 'the little rocket man), the crude and divisive language­ -- ­no other Commander in Chief has broadcast his outbursts in such an unfiltered torrent.

He has gleefully gone to war with the press, with leaders of his own party, with his long defeated political opponents all through Twitter and he continues to do so and one can be sure that the 'Trump show' will continue into 2018 too.

Doklam standoff

India and China have had 'strained relationships' but not in the last 10 years had ties become so tenuous as it became in 2017.

The two sides squared up against each other over Doklam, an obscure piece of Himalayan territory. It all started when Chinese troops with construction vehicles and road-building equipment began extending an existing road southward in Doklam, a territory which is claimed by both China as well as India's ally Bhutan.

What ensued was a two-month long stand-off with both parties refusing to back down. Beijing used its state-run media to whip fervour in their favour with opinion pieces titled 'New Delhi should come to its senses while it has time'.

Finally, amid tensions on August 28, 2017, India and China announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the face-off in Doklam.

After all that stress, we hope that Doklam will be a new chapter of cordial ties between Beijing and New Delhi, who must focus on constructive ties and not energy-draining standoffs.

Virat-Anushka wedding

Everyone loves a wedding and that's why when India's 'hero' Virat Kohli wed India's sweetheart Anushka Sharma, it was a moment of joy for all Indians.

Away from the prying eyes of the Indian media and paparazzi, the two got married in a gorgeous wedding in Tuscany in December.

And we just couldn't get enough of the wedding: from her wedding trousseau to the villa to the planner, every detail of the nuptials was discussed by one and all and we have to say, we liked it all!

Serena Williams

Love her or hate her, Serena has done it all. She has won 23 Grand Slam titles -- four more than GOAT Roger Federer -- and her 23rd title at the Australian Open 2017 will probably go down as one of the greatest wins of all time as she did it while being 20 weeks pregnant!

Her victory against her sister Venus at Melbourne Park really showed the world that women are not the weaker sex and that women do rule the world!

She capped off the year with the birth of her baby girl Alexis Olympia and her fairytale wedding to Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian.

And if someone still questions if she's not the greatest tennis player, Serena plans to defend her title at the Australian Open in 2018, less than five months after giving birth.

Gurmehar Kaur

In February of 2017, Gurmehar Kaur, a Delhi University student, caught the attention of the national media when she began a social media campaign against the alleged violence by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad students. As soon as the image went viral, another picture from an earlier online campaign to promote peace between India and Pakistan surfaced on social media. The image showed Gurmehar holding a placard saying, "Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him."

Following which Gurmehar received rape and death threats from online trolls and also became centre of a national debate on free speech and dissent in an increasingly nationalistic India.

The daughter of an Indian Army officer refused to take the abuse quietly and fought back, leading to Time magazine including her in their list of Next Generation Leaders for 2017, giving her the title of "free speech warrior".

 
 
 
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The Rediff News Bureau / Rediff.com