Like every other New Year, people celebrated and welcomed 2020 with new resolutions, planning, and hopes of opportunities and joy. But this year has shown us unprecedented passages, mere 6 months into the year, people have already seen a flurry of significant incidents across the globe that compelled them to disremember all their optimisms and enthusiastic plans. Social Media is constantly flooded with thousands of memes cursing 2020 after getting one blow after another. The year cannot be concluded in its half journey though it has already been titled as “the worst year.” From the deadly virus to border clash, India unfolded a lot more perturbing episodes in the halfway of 2020.
The Coronavirus Outbreak
While the first outbreak of the dreaded coronavirus was identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, its waves shook the globe in the coming months. China detected its first loss of life due to COVID-19 on January 11, 2020, and two months later, it was confirmed as a pandemic by WHO on March 11, 2020. Almost all the countries have stepped out of lockdown and resumed with their lives. But the world is still in search of a vaccine for the Coronavirus.
India detected its first coronavirus infection case on January 30, 2020, in Kerala and the country remained locked for over 2 months since late March. The increasing number of coronavirus infections in India pushed the country into the list of Top 5 worst affected countries by COVID-19. India’s tally mounted to 5,66,840 whereas 16,893 people got succumbed to the deadly virus as of June 30, 2020, or the 98th day of the virus in India. But people are still dealing with the pandemic and trying to live with the deadly virus following the WHO’s statement, “The world must learn to live with the virus.” The unending Coronavirus has changed the definition of “normal” while altering it completely.
North-East Delhi Riots
In addition to the pandemic, the national capital has faced the worst communal violence for about six days from February 23, 2020, to February 29, 2020, in recent memory. The clash first broke out on Feb 23 between Hindu and Muslim groups due to controversial amendments made in Indian Citizenship Law. Protestors against the Law feared the risk of the secular status of India as this law now grants citizenship to non-Muslim (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities) immigrants from three neighbouring countries, namely Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
The year started with bloodshed, property destruction, and hatred in North-east Delhi, a Muslim-majority area. Over 50 people had lost their lives due to rioting, burglary, arson, and shooting and more than 250 people got serious injuries. Apart from arresting or detaining thousands of protestors, there was a huge economic loss to the national capital.
While the country was suffering a huge economic loss due to the pandemic and communal riots, the agriculture sector got a severe shock in April. The swarms of the desert locust, first detected in East Africa and Pakistan, took no time in affecting crops in Indian states that are Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and others. Since April 11, they have been affecting millions of hectares of land across the various districts of India. The locusts’ attack is now amplifying into an agrarian disaster while threatening the lives.
As the BBC said, the average swarm of 40 million locusts in one square kilometre can eat the same amount of food daily as three million people assuming that an individual consumes 2.3 kg of food daily. The unseasonal heavy rains, strong westerly winds, and high temperature can be the main reasons for large scale breeding of desert locust swarms. To combat the worst locust attack in three decades amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian deployed a major part of the resources including drones and pesticides sprayed over crops.
Vizag Gas Tragedy
The epidemic was accompanied by the transgression of toxic fumes due to a gas leak from the L.G. Polymers plant in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh on May 7, 2020. The inhalation of poisonous styrene gas leaked from the chemical plant choked the number of people who were sleeping and compelled 800 into hospitals for treatment while reporting 11 deaths later, according to Reuters. After evacuating their houses, thousands of people were found sleeping on the pavement. A police complaint was filed against the management of Chemical plants due to the negligent handling of the poisonous substance. Indian history repeated itself decades after terrible Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984 killing thousands of people across the state.
Aurangabad Train Accident
Following the Vizag Gas Tragedy, an unspeakable horrific incident in Aurangabad disheartened many families when on May 8 (the next day) arrived the news that a goods train ran over 16 laid-off workers sleeping on the tracks in Satna village near Aurangabad, Maharashtra. According to Reuters, “20 migrant workers were heading back to their home village after losing their jobs in a coronavirus lockdown.” As per the statement of Railway Ministry, the train driver tried to stop the freight train and warned by blowing the horn when he saw the workers scattered on the tracks but was unsuccessful in doing so.
People had not yet overcome the heart-wrenching death of migrant workers when the Indian Meteorological Department predicted that the powerful Cyclone Amphan will hit two Indian states namely West Bengal and Odisha. The deadly cyclonic disaster spanning from May 16, 2020, till May 21, 2020, devastatingly killed about 98 people, as per India Today reports. Apart from this, the cyclone wreaked havoc while evacuating more than 3 million people. The Reuters reported the damage of 1 trillion rupees to infrastructure and crops of West Bengal, destruction of over 1.5 million houses affecting 13 million people. It further added, the cyclone also compelled hundreds of thousands to relief camps where lack of social distancing could spread the coronavirus affecting the livelihoods adversely.
Uttarakhand Forest Fires
In contrast to the disastrous cyclone, a forest fire broke out in Srinagar of Pauri Garhwal district in Uttarakhand on May 23, 2020. According to the Reuters, the fires in parts of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh broke out since the end of April and have destroyed 26,000 hectares of forests while killing three people. The state has witnessed at least 62 incidents of fire causing economic loss worth lakhs. According to some experts, “the forest fires, touched off by timber smugglers, poachers and farmers, have been a particular problem this year due to high temperature and low rainfall,” it added.
Similar to the cyclone Amphan, another cyclonic disaster terrorized Maharashtra on June 1, 2020, amid Maharashtra grapples with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The financial capital of the country embraced the rare cyclone Nisarga while evacuating thousands of people away from the coast. “Nisarga dropped heavy rains and winds gusting up to 120km (75 miles) per hour as a category 4 cyclone near the coastal city of Alibagh, about 98km (60 miles) south of Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra state and home to more than 18 million people,” said Aljazeera. The cyclone has caused extensive damage to the property and lost 6 lives told the CM to review the situation.
Assam Oil Well fire
Not only Uttarakhand, but Assam also got caught in flames of fire after the uncontrollable gas leakage for the past 14 days turned into a blowout in Assam’s Baghjan Oil Well on June 9, 2020, jeopardizing the livelihood of people. According to the Hindu, “Around 1610 families had been evacuated from nearby affected areas and camped in four relief camps with an immediate compensation of Rs. 30,000 per affected family from OIL.” To control the disastrous fire, experts from a Singapore-based firm had been called on a special flight. The raging fire has caused irreversible damage to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and the Maguri Motapung wetland area besides taking two lives. The interim penalty of Rs. 25 crore has been imposed on the PSU by National Green Tribunal due to its failure to contain the fire.
To worsen the things, India conveyed the loss of 20 soldiers due to a fierce clash broke out between the soldiers of India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on June 15, 2020. The aftermath of the horrific crash was an argument between the countries. These tensions have escalated since late April after China sent artillery and vehicles with thousands of troops into the disputed territory along LAC.
According to experts, the construction of 255km Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat-Ram Beg Olide (DSDBO) road along the LAC last year has infuriated China. This road falls near Galwan Valley whose sovereignty is claimed by China. Later on June 19, 2020, the Indian government decided to ban 59 apps based in China concerning its security and privacy issues under section 69 A of the Information and Technology Act. The Indian Ministry of Information and Technology said it blocked the apps as they were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order.” China responded angrily while saying India has violated the rule of WTO. The two countries are still arguing to resolve their issues.
The loss to Bollywood
The challenges thrown by 2020 did not stop here, but it continued to test the tolerance level of people after Bollywood lost various gems like Rishi Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Wajid Khan. The veteran star Irrfan Khan, battling cancer since 2018, passed away at 53 on April 29,2020, as he was admitted to a hospital due to colon infection. Rishi Kapoor, 67 died on April 30, 2020, after battling cancer for the last two years. The music composer Wajid Khan has died at the age of 47 due to a cardiac arrest.
While the country was dealing with the shocks, fans had to mourn one of its talented star, Sushant Singh Rajput, aged 34. The actor well known for working in films like ‘Chhichhore’ reportedly committed suicide on June 14, 2020, at his residence in Mumbai. His deaths have raged protests all across. The spate of celebrity deaths was unbelievable and has left us fumbling for answers.
There is a lot to say about the year and its shocks including cancellation of Olympics in the last 40 years, halt to IPL, death of the pregnant elephant, about dozen of earthquakes in the national capital, economic recession, unemployment, floods in Assam, police brutality, poverty and many more such cases happened in just six months of 2020, however it is difficult to publish all of them.