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The A-Z of 2018

January 12, 2019 10:05 IST

The year gone by, decoded by Shuma Raha.

A for Alexa
IMAGE: You can voice interact with Amazon Alexa. Photograph: Kind courtesy Amazon.com

Now a year old in India, Amazon's cool, AI-powered personal assistant has given Indians the experience of voice recognition, music-on-demand, and even some home automation.

According to Amazon, Indians say 'I love you' to Alexa once every minute and ask 'Will you marry me?' every three minutes.

B for Bling
IMAGE: Meghan Markle's stunning bridal gown was designed by Givenchy's Clare Waight Keller and moved her groom to tears. Photograph: Ben Birchall/WPA Pool/Getty Images

On retina-scorching display at the celebrity weddings of Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh, Isha Ambani-Anand Piramal and Priyanka Chopra-Nick Jonas.

Oh, and Britain's Prince Harry got hitched to commoner Meghan Markle -- but with a shocking lack of over-the-top razzle-dazzle.

And they called it a royal wedding!

C for Cow
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

The bovine ruled, cow vigilantes rampaged and politicians 'cow'-towed, scrambling to please with promises of cow ministries, cow shelters and boosting the business in sacred cow urine.

D for Designer babies
IMAGE: Scientist He Jiankui poses with The Human Genome, a book he edited, at his company Direct Genomics in Shenzhen, China. Photograph: Reuters

Chinese researcher He Jiankui claimed to have produced the world's first genetically altered babies (twin girls), spurring a huge ethical and moral debate.

E for Expletives
IMAGE: Saif Ali Khan plays Inspector Sartaj Singh in Sacred Games.

Made-in-India shows such as Mirzapur and Sacred Games blasted you with super-salty cuss words.

It was mind-bending stuff and, really, quite educational.

F for Facebook's failings
IMAGE: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a US congressional committee regarding the company's use and protection of user data in Washington, DC. Photograph: Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters

The tech giant stood discredited after news broke that it had given political consultancy Cambridge Analytica access to the personal data of 50 million FB users.

G for Gay Rights!
IMAGE: LGBT community supporters in Bengaluru celebrate the Supreme Court verdict which decriminalised consensual gay sex. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

India's Supreme Court finally decriminalised homosexuality.

H for Hug
IMAGE: Rahul Gandhi hugs Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi in the Lok Sabha. Photograph: PTI Photo

After Narendra Damodardas Modi made it his signature gesture of warmth and charmth towards world leaders, Rahul Gandhi, too, had a stab at a high-profile hug.

He embraced the PM in Parliament, and social media went wild.

At this rate, the hug could replace the handshake in 2019.

Find out more...

I for Internet
IMAGE: Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb.

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb informed us that there was Internet in the time of the Mahabharata.

It figures.

After all, didn't our ancients fly aeroplanes and do plastic surgery?

J for Jacket
IMAGE: South Korea President Moon Jae-in thanked Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi for sending him 'Modi jackets'.

Jackets matter and you know where you stand depending on whether you call yours a Nehru jacket or a Modi jacket.

Much hot words were exchanged over whether the former was being egregiously rebranded as the latter.

K for Kavanaugh
IMAGE: US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh emphatically stated that he had never sexually assaulted anyone and that he was '100 per cent' innocent during a Senate hearing. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/Pool/Reuters

As in Brett Kavanaugh, who was confirmed as a lifetime judge of the US supreme court even after a credible witness testified that he had sexually assaulted her as a teenager.

L for Lynching
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

Lynch mobs murdered people on suspicion of being cattle smugglers or child lifters.

And at times politicians bestowed love and garlands on men who lynched.

M for #MeToo
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

Which hit India and took down powerful men.

Women showed they would no longer be silent victims of sexual violence.

N for New names
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

Given to places such as Allahabad (Prayagraj), Faizabad (Ayodhya) or Mughalsarai (Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction).

It's also called cultural cleansing, Indian style.

Find out more...
O for Outrage
IMAGE: Naseeruddin Shah, the legendary actor.

The kind directed at vocalist T M Krishna and actor Naseeruddin Shah because they spoke against majoritarian hate.

Happily, lots of Indians came out in their support.

P for Padmaavat
IMAGE: A protest after the release of Padmaavat outside a cinema hall in Patna. Photograph: PTI Photo

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film on the Rajput queen of legend was finally released -- with some cuts, but at least with everyone's nose and head intact.

Q for Quip
IMAGE: Journalist Abhijit Iyer Mitra.

A man was jailed for weeks for making a quip about the erotic sculptures of Odisha's Konark temple.

It shows we do like comedy, but only if it's black.

R for RIP
IMAGE: Movie legend Sridevi.

Sridevi, Anthony Bourdain, Stan Lee, Aretha Franklin, Annapurna Devi, Neil Simon, Tom Wolfe and many more cultural icons who left us in 2018.

S for Statue
IMAGE: The Statue of Unity during its inauguration in Kevadia. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

We got the world's tallest -- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's mammoth 182 metre statue built at a cost of Rs 29.9 billion.

Er, so what if we haven't solved poverty and rural distress?

T for Toxic
IMAGE: Image posted only for representational purposes.Photograph: Kind courtesy libellule789/pixabay.com

It's the Oxford dictionaries's Word of the Year because it reflects the current cultural ethos.

U for Urban Naxal
IMAGE: A protest in Bengaluru against the raids and detention of lawyers and civil right activist by the Pune police. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

Pithy abuse applied to anyone who is not rabidly right-wing.

V for Vibrator
IMAGE: Kiara Advani in Lust Stories.

After its star turns in Veere di Wedding and Lust Stories, a taboo was broken, albeit with laughable clumsiness.

W for Worship
IMAGE: Bindu Ammini, 42, and Kanakadurga, 44, are escorted by the police after they entered the Sabarimala temple on the intervening night of January 1-2, 2019. Photograph: Reuters

Women of all ages won the right to worship at Kerala's Sabarimala temple.

But a bitter religio-political battle rages on to stop them from doing so.

X for Xenophobia
IMAGE: US President Donald John Trump. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

US President Donald John Trump separated children from families of illegal immigrants, Amit Anilchandra Shah called Bangladeshi immigrants 'termites', and across Europe, migrants were made increasingly unwelcome.

Y for Yahoos
IMAGE: Actress Tanushree Dutta. Photograph: Kind courtesy Tanushree Dutta/Instagram

Aka trolls or bullies or nasties who hunted in packs on social media, spewing hate, issuing death threats and badmouthing women.

Z for Zero
IMAGE: A scene from Zero.

The Shah Rukh Khan starrer has lived up to its name: It's come to nought at the box office.

 

Shuma Raha
Source: source
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