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Modi, Deepika, Sachin, Tejpal: Who is the Newsmaker of the Year?

December 17, 2013 11:16 IST

It has been a year of few triumphs, many setbacks and not too many heroes.

As we peruse the list of the men and women who have made the maximum number of headlines this year, we realise that two of them are scientists, two are retired and most are disgraced.

We are asking you, our dear readers, to vote for the person YOU think was the Newsmaker of the Year 2013?

The controversial Narendra Modi, the beautiful Deepika Padukone, the talented Sachin Tendulkar, the unapologetic Tarun Tejpal and many more are contenders for the crown.

So go through the slide show to find out why these people made news this year -- for reasons good, bad and ugly -- and vote for YOUR choice on the last slide...


Narendra Modi: Biggest success story or worst mistake?

Photographs: Courtesy:

To say Narendra Modi is the most sharply polarising figure in Indian politics is understating the facts. The Gujarat chief minister, and currently the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, evokes extreme reactions among Indians.

While left-liberals see red at the very mention of his name, many of those in the right-wing consider him as a saviour.

Some of his devoted followers won’t mind killing for him (and they probably have) while some terrorists will be happy to kill him for his alleged involvement in the post-Godhra riots in 2002.

Modi makes little effort to shed the communal tag that dogs him, he seems unperturbed even when party patriarch L K Advani publicly shuns him, he remains unfazed by reports about forgetting a wife or getting aides to snoop on a woman and he is the most ardent believer of his own spiel about Gujarat’s development.

He may end up being the BJP's biggest success story or he may just turn out to be the saffron party’s worst mistake.

But this year, for sure, ain't nothing gonna break Modi’s stride!

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...


Tarun Tejpal: Trailblazer who let us all down

Photographs: Courtesy:

With great power comes great responsibility.

The same not-so-original thought must have crossed the minds of Spiderman and Tehelka’s disgraced editor Tarun Tejpal at some point of time.

Peter Parker probably pondered over the grave responsibilities foisted on him by his superpowers while swinging between Manhattan skyscrapers.

Tejpal, meanwhile, must have had a lot of time to think about the tricky relationship between power, responsibility and the pitfalls of their misuse in a cramped cell in Goa police’s lock-up.

The journalist, who virtually brought a government to its knees by blowing the lid off corrupt deals in the defence ministry is, today, facing charges of raping a colleague and sharing a cell with murderers and poachers.

2013 will not only be remembered as the year Tejpal’s utterly stupid actions dragged his own reputation, and that of the landmark magazine he founded, through the mud. It will also go down in history as the year the Indian media so gleefully pounced on one of their own.

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...

Sachin Tendulkar: The icon who united India

Photographs: Courtesy: BCCI

Arguably the greatest sportsman India has ever produced, Sachin Tendulkar lets his bat and his records do the talking.

At 40, he has played more matches, and scored more runs, and centuries, than any other cricketer in both Tests and ODIs.

After 24 years of cricket, he bid adieu to the game at Wankhede Stadium in his hometown Mumbai on November 16.

Tickets for the match were sold out in minutes, thousands of fans turned up with painted faces and emotional banners and Modi, the stock market and corruption were all forgotten.

Only Sachin Tendulkar mattered.

And when the Master Blaster got out for 74, time stood still and an entire nation wept.’s Gauri Ghadi described the moment thus:

“As I saw him walk off the field, I realised it was the last of him as well. I was overwhelmed, I was nostalgic. I got a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach that simply refused to die down.

It's that feeling of the post-Sachin era kicking in. Cricket, for me, will never be the same again.

Sachin, you will be missed”.

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...

Deepika Padukone: More than a pretty face!

Farah Khan cannily used the attractive girl as a lovely mannequin, and none of us realised just how plastic this Barbie really is. She has a great smile, dimples and all, but that's really it”.

This is the unforgiving review Deepika Padukone got from for her lacklustre performance in Love Aaj Kal in 2009.

Today, the very same critics can’t stop raving about her. And that says something about how very far the actress has come in the last four years.

Be it the geeky and smitten Naina in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani or the quirky and ballsy Meenalochni in Chennai Express, Deepika steals the show right from under the noses of her far more talented co-stars in two of this year’s mega hits.

But her current reign as the Box Office queen, thanks to the several blockbusters under her belt, is not the only reason the lovely actress has been in the limelight.

In an industry notorious for festering rivalries and acrimonious relationships, Deepika stands out with her natural grace. Her friendly relationship with former boyfriends, including Ranbir Kapoor who famously left her for Katrina Kaif, is the stuff of new-age Bollywood folklore.

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...

Raghuram Rajan: Lucky mascot for the rupee

Photographs: Tami Chappell/Reuters

Before becoming the Reserve Bank of India’s Governor, Raghuram Rajan was known for his prediction of the 2008 global financial crisis.

Not shy about speaking his mind, Rajan confronted conventional wisdom with a paper in 2005 at a meeting of top bankers in the United States, warning that financial sector developments could trigger an economic crisis. He was dismissed by many at the time for being an ‘alarmist’.

When the Indian government was short listing candidates for the governor’s post, the rupee was in a free fall and stock markets, too, followed the currency movement.

As soon as Rajan took over, the rupee stabilised and the stock market rally began. It showed that the entire financial community had put their faith in him.

The son of a diplomat father, Rajan, 50, has earlier served as a chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and a professor at the University of Chicago.

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...


Narayana Murthy: The comeback boss

Photographs: Courtesy Perfect Relations

Indian IT industry’s poster ‘boy’ Narayana Murthy once again took over the reins at Infosys this year to bring the IT bellwether back on track. 

Describing his return as "very unusual", Murthy, 67, said the company was facing challenging times.

He came back at a time when Infosys has performed below market expectations and has struggled to retain clients in North America and Europe. The firm has over the last two years lost its IT bellwether status to Tata Consultancy Services, the country's largest software services exporter.

Billionaire Murthy has accepted a five-year term, for which he will earn a salary of Re 1 per year; his son Rohan will serve as his executive assistant.

But it has not been all smooth sailing for Murthy since his return, as Infosys has seen many top-level exits including that of Ashok Vemuri, head of Infosys Americas and the global head of manufacturing.

The company was also penalised for serious violations of United States visa norms in October. Infosys has agreed to pay $34 million to settle the charges.

But analysts and investors are positive about Murthy’s comeback as of now.

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...


Professor CNR Rao: Brilliant and blunt

Photographs: Courtesy:

Professor Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao is the third scientist after physicist C V Raman and former president A P J Abdul Kalam to be bestowed with the highest civilian award in the nation -- the Bharat Ratna.

Rao, founder of the Bangalore-based Jawharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, has honourary doctorates from only 60 universities! He has also served as the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister under different regimes.

He is currently serving as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Rao is known for his work in the field of nano material, hybrid material, solid-state and structural chemistry.

But he is probably better known for famously declaring, within hours of being named the recipient of a Bharat Ratna, that Indian politicians were “idiots”.

He said, "Why the hell have these idiots (politicians) given so little to us despite what we have done? For the money that the government has given us we (scientists) have done much more."

 If only we could have many more such refreshingly candid national figures…

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...

Team ISRO: Making India proud, again

Image: First image of the Earth by Mars Color Camera of Mars Orbiter Spacecraft taken on November 19
Photographs: Courtesy:

The Indian Space Research Organisation scripted history when its Rs 450-crore Mars Orbiter Mission took off from Sriharikota spaceport for a 780 million-kilometre journey to the Red Planet on November 5

Over 1,000-odd scientists, led by their chief K Radhakrishnan, worked tirelessly for years to turn the ambitious mission into a reality.

The 10-month journey, which began on November 5, is expected to reach the Martian atmosphere in the third week of September 2014. The spacecraft will cover 400 million kilometres in 300 days before reaching the Martian atmosphere.

Incidentally, fewer than 25 of the spacecraft sent by other countries have been able to complete the entire journey to Mars.

Let’s doff our hats to the amazing members of Team ISRO who helped India achieve yet another milestone in the great beyond.

Some of the key members of team ISRO are:

K Radhakrishnan: ISRO chairman, secretary in Department of Space

M Annadurai: Programme director, Mars Orbiter Mission

S Ramakrishnan: Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and Member Launch Authorisation Board.

SK Shivakumar: Director of ISRO Satellite Centre

P Kunhikrishnan: Project director, PSLV programme

Chandradathan: Director, Liquid Propulsion system

AS Kiran Kumar: Director, Satellite Application Centre

MYS Prasad: Director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Chairman, Launch Authorisation Board

S Arunan: Project director, Mars Orbiter Mission

B Jayakumar: Associate project director, PSLV project

MS Pannirselvam: Chief general manager, Range operation director at Sriharikota Rocket port

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...

Arvind Kejriwal: The giant-killer

Photographs: Courtesy:

Amid accusations of hijacking activist Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, his once-upon-a-time sidekick Arvind Kejriwal launched the Aam Aadmi Party last November.

A mere toddler in terms of political years, Kejriwal’s AAP not only took on the veterans -- the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party -- but gave them quite a scare.

The two national parties, which had pooh-poohed Kejriwal’s daring attempts earlier, had to grudgingly admit that he could turn out to be the spoilsport.

Armed with a broom (the AAP’s party symbol) and some conviction, the government-official-turned-activist felled mighty Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit by over 20,000 votes.

The AAP may or may not keep the promises made to Delhi’s voters. But there is no denying that Kejriwal managed to survive wide-spread scepticism, income tax raids, Election Commission’s notices and even a sting operation to script an unprecedented electoral victory for his AAP.

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...

Prithvi Shaw: The next Sachin?

Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

He has been dubbed as the next Sachin Tendulkar. And why not?

Prithvi Shaw, the 14-year-old boy wonder from Mumbai, entered the record books after he slammed a 546 in the Harris Shield (Mumbai schools' cricket) at the Azad Maidan this November, the highest for an Indian.

The teen’s glorious knock brought back fond memories of the mammoth 664-run Harris Shield partnership between Vinod Kambli (349) and Sachin Tendulkar (326) at the very same ground in February 1988.

Boys like Prithvi are exactly what cricket-crazed India needs to fill that gigantic void left by batting legend Tendulkar.

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...

Lalu Prasad: Once CM, now prisoner, some times gardener

Photographs: Courtesy:

Lalu Prasad Yadav can never be out of news.

As the flowers in his garden inside Ranchi's Birsa Munda jail bloom, capping off a forgetful year for the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, Lalu surely will be hoping for a brighter year ahead.

A Central Bureau of Investigation court in October convicted Lalu for his involvement in the decades-old fodder scam and handed him a five-year jail term.

The sentencing forced his immediate exit from Parliament, courtesy a Supreme Court order stating that lawmakers would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more.

These days, whenever he is not plotting a comeback or issuing orders for RJD leaders from his VIP cell, Lalu prefers to spend his time with the two dozen marigolds he planted, along with several chrysanthemum and dahlia. 

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...

Virat Kohli: The Next Big Thing?

These days, Virat Kohli is like a man possessed.

With an insatiable appetite for runs and electrifying fielding, Kohli is already being touted as the one who could surpass Tendulkar in centuries, if not in runs scored.

He gave indications of that when he lapped West Indies's James Holder for a six over deep midwicket to complete 5,000 runs in ODI cricket and equalled Vivian Richards’ record of scoring fastest 5,000 ODI runs in 114 innings.

Kohli is the only player in the history of ODIs to score five or more consecutive 50-plus scores on two occasions. The first time he did it was last year, and this year his bat continued to hammer oppositions into submission.

But the icing on the cake came in Nagpur during the second ODI against Australia when he scored a hundred in 50 balls, beating Virendra Sehwag's record of a ton in 60 balls.

Keep that bat talking, Virat!

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...

Asaram and Narayan: Carrying the family tradition forward

Photographs: Courtesy: and

Self-styled ‘godman’ Asaram Bapu is no stranger to controversy.

Distasteful photographs of Asaram with young women ‘devotees’ can be found all over the Internet. 

There have been murmurs about brutal Tantrik practices going on at his ashram after young boys studying there started going missing.

The all-powerful ashram reportedly gobbled up whatever land it could; laws and protests of the rightful owner be damned!

But 2013 turned out to be an unlucky year for the ungodly ‘Bapu’. In August, the 72-year-old was arrested for sexually assaulting a minor girl at his ashram, after playing hide-and-seek with police for days.

The girl’s younger sister then accused Asaram’s son Narayan Sai of sexual assault.

But Narayan Sai beat his father hollow when it came to eluding capture. He was finally arrested on December 4, nearly 50 days after police first began looking for him.

Like pervert and criminal father, like pervert and criminal son.

Police suspect that Asaram and his son could have been taking advantage of many more of their women devotees under the guise of imparting religious teachings.

What can we say about India’s ‘gurus’ and their many avatars? No country for horny, murderous ‘godmen’!     

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...

Vinod Rai: The face of the anti-corruption movement

Photographs: Courtesy:

When Vinod Rai stepped down as the chief of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in May 2013 after a five-year tenure, civil society reacted like it was a personal loss.

For India, Rai was a personification of good over evil. He ensured accountability, transparency and good governance of the legislature and the executive through auditing and accounting.

He told the public whether public funds were being used efficiently and for the intended purposes. He was in fact doing only what the CAG office has mandated.

If there is indeed an anti-incumbency trend in the 2014 polls, it will be in no small measure due to Rai.

His audit reports on the 2G spectrum allocation (a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore) and the coal scam (a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore) put actual numbers to corruption.

He was responsible for Law Minister Ashwani Kumar’s resignation and the cancellation of all 122 licenses allocated to nine telecom companies.

He also reduced the time taken for an audit from the earlier two or three years to just nine months, which meant that people could be held accountable while they were still in office.

Let’s put it this way -- Rai is the only CAG to have a Facebook page created by his fans -- ‘We admire CAG Vinod Rai’.

Forbes puts the admiration down to these words: ‘That rare breed of civil servants who know how to get work done in the government’.

Move on to the next slide and register your votes on the last page of the slideshow...

Rajesh, Nupur Talwar: Characters in a classic whodunit

Image: Rajesh Talwar with his wife Nupur
Photographs: Reuters

A beautiful, young girl who went for sleepovers, an illicit relationship, a servant, murders, parents who did not cry at their daughter's death, a dressed-up crime scene, a missing golf club.

Putting two and two together, the special CBI court, in its 204-page judgment, pronounced the parents -- Rajesh and Nupur Talwar -- guilty of the murders of their only child Aarushi and servant Hemraj.

The couple was sentenced to life imprisonment.

End of the matter, it should have been, except that the verdict divided opinion further.

Those who believe that the Talwars are innocent say the case was botched up by the bungling Noida police; the CBI had admitted earlier that almost 90 per cent of the evidence at the crime scene had been destroyed due to police's negligence.

They believe that the Talwars could never have killed their daughter, whatever the circumstances, and an outsider committed the crime. And they point to the evidence to prove it.

Those who believe that the Talwars are guilty say they should get exemplary punishment, nothing short of the death sentence. They point to 26 reasons why the Talwars are “freaks who killed their progeny”.

This case will always remain the classic whodunit. Arise and awaken Monsieur Poirot.

Move on to the next slide and register your votes...    

Who is the Newsmaker of the Year?

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