Politics

The Best of The Wire in 2015

California: Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugs CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters in California on Sunday. PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla (PTI9_27_2015_000340B)

California: Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugs CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters in California on Sunday. Credit: PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla

Since it was launched on May 11, 2015, The Wire has published many articles and analyses of current affairs by domain experts that have ignited debate and conversation. Whether it was “award wapsi” or ghar wapsi, assessing the Prime Minister’s foreign tours or studying the emergence of ISIS, analysing Bajrangi Bhaijaan or calling out the politics of attacking Aamir KhanThe Wire covered them all.

Across international affairs, strategic issues, domestic politics, science, the environment, social policy, cinema, culture and even nostalgia, The Wire offered fresh insights and authoritative commentary. As 2015 winds down, here’s a list of our top ten stories, selected on the basis of their popularity and impact.

1. Mahatma Gandhi on beef-eating – At a time when eating beef became a political issue, exploited by hotheads and even leading to the lynching of an innocent man, it was useful to recall what Mahatma Gandhi had said about this contentious matter. As always, the great man preached understanding and tolerance, much needed in his time as much as ours.

2. Thomas Piketty on the Greek crisis – Piketty is more than just a best selling author or a star economist. His arguments about redistribution of income and wealth have struck a chord worldwide. He is in many ways the voice that adds sanity to heated debates and his interview about the crisis in Greece and the German response to it was a big hit with our readers. The original interview was in the German magazine Die Zeit. The Wire obtained the exclusive rights for the English translation.

File photo of Thomas Piketty. Credit: Sue Gardner

File photo of Thomas Piketty. Credit: Sue Gardner

3. Drama at FIFA – The ongoing scandals in the international governing body for football, FIFA, made headlines around the world. At stake was the control of a powerful organisation presiding over the management of the beautiful game. A series of articles exploring the goings-on behind the scenes were published in The Wire – one in particular dared to explore the episode’s political implications.

4. Arabia and the refugee crisis – Asif Kichloo’s compassionate plea for sparing a thought for the two million Syrian refugees left homeless and stateless, rather than spending money to go for the Hajj, drew a huge response from our readers.

5. The disappearing act – Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hugely successful trip to London evoked memories of his early 2003 visit and raised questions about why he didn’t go after that. India’s former Deputy High Commissioner to UK, Satyabrata Pal, recalled the behind-the-scenes diplomacy of those times. The widely shared piece then disappeared from readers’ Facebook timelines but was back again after the company clarified that their spam filters had mistakenly caught the piece and blocked it.

6. The Free Basics debate – The year ended with Facebook’s controversial proposal called ‘Free Basics’, which many in India see as going against the concept of net neutrality while also reducing competition and giving enormous power to technology companies. Then, venture capitalist Mahesh Murthy came out with a set of cogent objections to the offering Basics – to which Facebook replied and Murthy then responded. And this story is not yet over.

7. Covering murder wrong – Crime always sells, and often, the media gets carried away while covering stories of murder in high places. The alleged murder of Sheena Bora was one such story – covered at a high pitch with almost complete disregard for facts and confirmed details. A critique of the media’s handling of this sensational case was appreciated by The Wire’s readers.

8. Something smelly about the Metro – A commuter on the Delhi Metro was told by CISF jawans that he could not board because he was carrying raw eggs. Is there such a rule or were the authorities trying to do it surreptitiously? An intrepid activist tried to get to the bottom of it and met with the usual obfuscation and vagueness.

9. Despite being a minister – Culture minister Mahesh Sharma has come to be known for some outlandish utterances. His statement that the late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was a great nationalist and humanist “despite being a Muslim” betrayed a starkly communal mindset that ill befits a man sworn to uphold the Constitution.

Union Minister for Tourism & Culture Mahesh Sharma being offered sweets as he unveils a 365 kg jumbo laddoo to celebrate Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday at FICCI Auditorium in New Delhi on Thursday. Credit: PTI

Union Minister for Tourism & Culture Mahesh Sharma being offered sweets as he unveils a 365 kg jumbo laddoo to celebrate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday at FICCI Auditorium in New Delhi on Thursday. Credit: PTI

10. A historian on secularism – The distinguished historian Romila Thapar is known not just for her rigour and scholarship but her deep commitment to the secular idea as well. She has never shied away from expressing her thoughts, and had much to say about the current climate of cultural intolerance. Her Asghar Ali Engineer Memorial Lecture at the Jamia Millia Islamia was published by The Wire in full and, despite being a long read, was widely read and discussed.