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Years in review: Defining moments (1975-2016)

Chronicling the four decades of India Today through photographs that defined the era.

1975

Democracy in Chains

George Fernandes, then a firebrand trade union leader, holds up a handcuffed fist in defiance, following his arrest during the Emergency. Fernandes and 24 others were charged with smuggling dynamite in an alleged plot to blow up railway tracks and government buildings in the Baroda Dynamite Case. Fernandes was still in jail when he won from Muzaffarpur in Bihar in the 1977 national election, and was industries minister in the first non-Congress government that came to power after the Janata Party defeated Indira Gandhi.

1977

The Old Order Changes

Dressed in the white suit and white cap that had long been the trademark of his rivals, Prime Minister Morarji Desai steps into his official Ambassador car after addressing the nation from the ramparts of Delhi’s Red Fort on August 15, 1977. Leader of the Janata Party, Desai (a former Congress stalwart himself) became India’s first prime minister from outside the Congress Party, marking the restoration of parliamentary democracy.

Photo: India Today Archives

1978

Indira’s Arrest

Surrounded by supporters, former prime minister Indira Gandhi confronts her accusers as officials wait to arrest her on December 19, 1978, on charges of corruption during the Emergency. Jailing Mrs Gandhi turned out to be a strategic blunder-as it rekindled support for her, leading to a massive victory for her Congress Party over the Janata Party in the 1980 parliamentary elections.

Photo: Pramod Pushkarna

1980

Triumph and Tragedy

Draped in the garlands of victory, Indira Gandhi (left) reflects on her triumphant return to power in January 1980. After 21 months of exile, Mrs Gandhi was elected prime minister again following a thumping defeat of the Janata Party in the national elections.

Photo: Pramod Pushkarna

Rajiv Gandhi comforts his mother, Indira, at the funeral of her younger son, Sanjay. Sanjay died in a plane crash after taking off from Delhi’s Safdarjung airport on June 23, 1980. With Sanjay’s early demise, Rajiv emerged as the heir apparent to the political dynasty.

Photo: India Today Archives

1981

Info Warriors

Chairman and chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy (far left) and other members of the Infosys start-up team pose for a photo not long after the company commenced operations with a meagre war chest of just $250. Now India’s third-largest IT services firm with annual revenue of nearly $10 billion, the company helped jumpstart India’s IT revolution.

Courtesy: Infosys

1982

In Living Colour

A Doordarshan cameraman focuses on the action during the opening ceremony of the November 1982 Asian Games, which were held in Delhi. In the lead-up to the event, the Government of India relaxed import restrictions, allowing the import of 50,000 colour television sets. Once the genie was out of the bottle, the imports kept coming, a 190 per cent tax notwithstanding. In a sense, India’s march toward economic liberalisation was already underway.

Photo: India Today Archives

1984

Deadly Siege

Paramilitary troops look down on Amritsar’s Golden Temple during the siege leading up to Operation Blue Star. In June 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian army to storm the Golden Temple to capture the Sikh militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale- a measure that many Sikhs considered to be sacrilege.

Photo: India Today Photo Archive

1984

A Brutal Ending

A pensive Rajiv Gandhi stares into the funeral pyre of his mother, Indira Gandhi. At his side, Priyanka, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are obscured by the scorching heat of the flames. Mrs Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984, by her bodyguards in apparent retaliation for the storming of the Golden Temple. The anti-Sikh riots that followed claimed hundreds of lives.

Photo: India Today Archives

1984

Bhopal Deathcloud

It was arguably the worst night of an already disastrous year for India: a cloud of toxic gas released from Union Carbide’s chemical plant in the capital of Madhya Pradesh on December 2 would kill close to 4,000 people. The slow pace of compensation and assistance to the victims brought little succour and no real sense that the guilty were ever punished.

Photo: Raghu Rai

1989

Little Master 2.0

Dressed in pristine whites, cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar adjusts his chinstrap in preparation for a session at the crease. The second ‘Little Master’ made his debut for the Indian team at the tender age of 16 against Pakistan in Karachi in November 1989. He was bowled for 15. Later on, in the Sialkot Test, he won hearts nationwide by continuing to bat with a bloodied nose after he was hit in the face by a Waqar Younis bouncer.

Photo: Allsport

1989

From Manda to Mandal

Janata Dal leader V.P. Singh (popularly known as the Raja of Manda) receives the congratulations of South Indian filmstar-turned-politician N.T. Rama Rao (a.k.a. NTR) at a December 1989 function following Singh’s selection as prime minister. Singh’s National Front coalition government weathered the turbulence of the anti-Mandal Commission agitation, but lasted only from December 2, 1989 to November 10, 1990.

Photo: Prashant Panjiar

1990

Terror for Freedom

Masked militants from the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) flash the ‘V’ for victory sign as they brandish revolvers at the beginning of the fiercest decade of the insurgency in January 1990. The flare-up was inspired in part by allegations that the 1987 elections that brought Farooq Abdullah back to power, this time in alliance with the Congress, had been rigged.

Photo: India Today Archives

1991

A Star is Reborn

In a stunning purple-coloured cape, filmstar-turned-politician J. Jayalalithaa accepts a statue of her mentor, M.G. Ramachandran, or MGR, during her election campaign in May 1991. She was sworn in as Tamil Nadu’s youngest chief minister a month later and went on to serve four terms as chief minister as leader of the AIADMK (All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam).

Photo: T. Ramamoorthy

1991

A Nation Mourns

With her son, Rahul, looking on, Sonia Gandhi clasps the hand of her daughter, Priyanka, at the cremation ceremony for Rajiv Gandhi on May 24, 1991. Rajiv was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber three days earlier while campaigning at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu.

Photo: AP 1991

Perched on an office chair dragged onto the lawn, P.V. Narasimha Rao poses in Delhi on July 21, 1991-a week before he assumed office. India’s first prime minister from outside the Hindi-speaking north, Rao shepherded India through pivotal economic reforms. The ‘liberalisation’ of the Indian economy also brought Rao’s soft-spoken finance minister, Manmohan Singh, to national prominence.

Photo: Bhawan Singh

1992

Demolition Day

Defiant kar sevaks stand atop the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya shortly before its demolition on December 6, 1992. Spurred into action by Lal Krishna Advani’s fiery speeches during his 10,000 kilometre rath yatra, the Hindu ‘volunteers’ swiftly tore the 16th century mosque to pieces-prompting nationwide clashes between Hindus and Muslims.

Photo: India Today Archives

1993

War Zone

A lone police officer picks through the rubble of a building destroyed in the series of 12 bombings on March 12, 1993, which came to be known as the ‘Bombay blasts’. Allegedly coordinated by Dawood Ibrahim, the explosions killed around 250 people and injured more than 700. Dawood, who fled to Pakistan, was never arrested or tried for the crime.

Photo: Namas Bhojani

1995

Dalit Icon

Mayawati, rising star of the Bahujan Samaj Party, was named chief minister of Uttar Pradesh after her mentor and party leader Kanshi Ram agreed to a coalition government with the Samajwadi Party in June 1995. The first Dalit woman to rise to the post of chief minister, in the era of caste-oriented politics, she soon became one of the country’s most powerful leaders.

Photo: Sharad Saxena

1996

Saffron’s Soft Face

A portrait of Atal Behari Vajpayee-who became prime minister for 13 days in 1996. An unforgettable presence in India’s Parliament for four decades, Vajpayee went on to head the first BJP-led government to remain in power at the centre for a full five-year term from 1999 to 2004.

Photo: Bandeep Singh

1998

The Buddha Smiles Again

A.B. Vajpayee with George Fernandes and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the Pokhran Test Range. India detonated a series of five nuclear bombs in May 1998, including fission, low-yield and thermonuclear devices. Later the same month, Pakistan carried out its own series of nuclear test detonations. The subcontinental nuclear standoff had begun. The US immediately cut off all assistance and banned export of sensitive technologies to India.

Photo: Pramod Pushkarna

1999

On the Brink

The Bofors FH-77B field howitzer proved its effectiveness in the brief but intense Kargil war-sparked by the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into Indian positions that had been vacated for the Himalayan winter. Following in the wake of nuclear tests by both countries, the conflict raised fears of a nuclear confrontation. Tensions were heightened given that this was India’s first ‘televised war’. But in the face of a fierce Indian offensive and international pressure, Pakistan withdrew.

Photo: Pramod Pushkarna

2001

Terror in the House

Five militants, allegedly members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, stormed the Indian Parliament on December 13, only 40 minutes after the legislative session had been adjourned. Fourteen people, including the five terrorists and six security personnel, were killed in the hour-long face-off. Four people were tried for complicity in planning the attack, one of whom, Afzal Guru, was hanged, on February 9, 2013, for ‘masterminding’ the operation.

Photo: Bandeep Singh

2002

Gujarat Burns

A victim of the 2002 Gujarat riots in a hospital after receiving treatment for burns. Following the burning of a train in Godhra carrying kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya, communal violence broke out in the state, then ruled by Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Lasting over three months, the riots saw over a thousand people being killed, widespread rape and arson and the displacement of tens of thousands-mostly Muslims.

Photo: Bandeep Singh

2007

T-20 Titans

The Indian side celebrates after beating Pakistan in the first Twenty20 World Cup in Johannesburg. The emergence of India as a brash batting powerhouse made the format a commercial success, cemented further by the hugely lucrative Indian Premier League, which was founded the same year.

Photo: AP

2008

26/11

Lashkar-e-Taiba member Mohammed Ajmal Kasab stalks through the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station during a series of terror attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, in which 166 people were killed. Phone intercepts and Kasab’s testimony linked the attacks to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Though Kasab was executed in 2012, Pakistan continues to deny it played any role in the incident.

Photo: AP

2011

Fast Times

Social activist Anna Hazare and political organiser Arvind Kejriwal address the crowd during a seven-hour fast to demand sweeping anti-corruption legislation in December 2011. While Hazare’s personal charm and threat of a ‘fast unto death’ made him the face of the battle to establish a powerful Lokpal to check corruption, it was Kejriwal who capitalised on the movement to launch the Aam Aadmi Party and eventually to become the chief minister of Delhi.

Photo: AP

2012

Smells Like 2G

Arrested in connection with a massive corruption scandal related to the allotting of 2G spectrum, India’s former telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja of the DMK (centre) arrives at a court in Delhi for a hearing. The Rs 1.76 lakh crore 2G spectrum scam along with the Rs 1.86 lakh crore Coalgate scandal haunted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh throughout his two terms, despite his personal reputation for honesty.

Photo: Reuters

2013

Fodder for a Scam

Rashtriya Janata Dal party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav (centre) arrives at a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ranchi to hear its verdict in the 15-year-old ‘fodder scam’ case. Lalu was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, disqualified from Parliament, and barred from contesting elections for 11 years.

Photo: AP

2015

Soft Power Stretch

French fans of yoga perform asanas in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in Paris to mark the first International Day of Yoga on June 21. Proclaimed by the United Nations, the celebration of India’s most recognised cultural product marked the rising influence of its so-called ‘soft power’.

Photo: Reuters

2016

Cashless in Delhi

People stand in a long queue to exchange their old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at a bank in Nehru Place in Delhi, as a bank employee checks stacks of the new Rs 2,000 notes (inset). Aimed at fighting counterfeiting, corruption and tax evasion, the surprise demonetisation drive wrought havoc as banks throughout the country struggled to meet the demand for cash following the sudden removal of 86 per cent of currency in circulation.

Photo: Parveen Negi/Mail Today

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