2021 Most Memorable Moments: Not many of us would miss the year that is going by. 2021 came with a hope to infuse normalcy in our COVID-ridden lives, catching us unprepared for the second wave and its aftermath and will be leaving us facing uncertainty due to the threat posed by a new variant.
But 2021 had its moments of joy, compassion and love. Moments that brought a smile to our faces, moments that sparked hope of a better future, and moments motivated that us to wait out the tough times, because surely, things will get better.
So here are some moments from 2021 that we need to remember as we bid adieu to this year:
Women Drive Tractors In Farmers’ Protest
In the month of November this year, the central government of India repealed the controversial farm bills that had led to mass protests from the agricultural community spanning over a year. Before the repeal, India witnessed numerous incidences from the farmers’ protest- good, bad and chilling, that will forever stay with us whenever we think of this moment. One such moment featured over 500 women from farmer families, driving tractors to participate in a protest rally. The women were taught to drive tractors by the Bhartiya Kisan Union- one of the driving forces behind the farmers’ protest. The result was this image of Haryanavi women across age groups sitting atop shiny and powerful tractors, ready to roar and raise their voices to match those of men.
Vaccine Roll Out Begins
As of December 18, India has administered nearly 136 crore doses of COVID vaccines. Over 55 percent of India’s adult population is now fully vaccinated, and it all began with the first rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in January this year. The COVID-19 vaccines were first administered to healthcare professionals, then the elderly population above 60 years of age along with younger people with any comorbidity. Subsequently, the vaccines were made available to all people in the country above 18 years of age. The vaccine rollout, however, wasn’t been without its hiccups- with immense shortage during the deadly second wave that began in April. Here’s hoping that we’re able to achieve our vaccination targets before (or if) the third wave of the pandemic strikes.
Social Media Turns Saviour During Second Wave
Perhaps the worst part of the year 2021 was the second wave phase that India experienced, starting in the month of April. In no time, the country was reporting lakhs of COVID-19 cases in a day, along with thousands of deaths. There were heartbreaking images of multiple funerals pyres burning, bodies floating in rivers, people dying outside hospitals, unable to secure hospital beds or medical aid.
But in these tough times, people also used social media to achieve what many authorities could not. The social media community developed an SOS network, working round the clock and helping people find hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, antiviral drugs and even food. Many commoners, apart from celebrities like Taapsee Pannu, Sonu Sood and Bhumi Pednekar etc., shared important information and helped those in need connect with pharmacists, doctors, etc. While it will take us years to recover from the trauma of the second wave, the unity and selflessness that was on display from all corners of the society during this period is something that we need to carry with us from this year in our memories too.
From Hockey To Cricket- Girls go Chak De!
What a campaign Indian athletes had this year, at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics! India not only won is its first track and field gold medal, but we also secured seven medals in total- which is our highest ever in the tally to date. But aside from athletes who brought home gold, silver and bronze, our heart went out to the women’s hockey team that made it to the semi-final match of the event and finished fourth. The girls lost out on a medal but won us over with their passion for the game.
Many of the team members came from marginalised and impoverished backgrounds. In fact, in a disheartening incident, hockey player Vandana Katariya’s family had to endure casteist abuse post the team’s defeat in the semifinal match. Captain Rani Rampal told SheThePeople in an interview that there was a time when her father couldn’t even afford a hockey stick for her. Keeping in mind the challenges they faced to pursue their passion this near-podium finish of our underdog hockey team is as precious for us as any medal we won at the Olympics.
Another Olympian who won our hearts off the field is Mirabai Chanu. After picking up India’s first medal at the 2020 Olympics -a silver in the 49 Kg category at women’s weightlifting event, Chanu returned to a country that could not stop fawning over her. But in the moment of her glory, the athlete did not forget those who helped her during her initial days as a budding weightlifter. Upon returning from Tokyo, Chanu honoured the truck drivers who ferried her from her home in the village of Nongpok Kakching to the Khuman Lampak sports centre while she was training, that too free of any charge.
In Cricket, Mithali Raj became the first female cricketer to be honoured with Khel Ratna- the highest sporting honour of India. The 39-year-old was also in the news after she completed 20,000 career runs.
Women Of Indian Diaspora Shine Bright
In January, Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first African-American, the first woman of colour and first Asian American Vice President of the United States. The democrat has time and again spoken about how her mother, researcher Shyamala Gopalan had ensured that she and her sister grew up to be “confident black women.” Here is more about how Shyamala Gopalan brought up a compassionate leader and a much-loved politician who went on to create history.
In December, 52-year-old Leena Nair was named as Global CEO by luxury fashion brand Chanel. Nair joined a rapidly growing list of Indian business leaders like Sundar Pichai, Parag Agrawal and Satya Nadella, who are leading global companies.
Another woman from the Indian diaspora who made history in 2021 is Sirisha Bandla. The aeronautical engineer and commercial astronaut became the third Indian-American to fly into space, following the footsteps of Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams. Read more on her here.
Women In Cinema Break Stereotypes On Marriage And Separation
While there were numerous celebrity weddings in the year 2021- two brides stood out for us, as they brought down age-old stereotypes with their weddings like it was no big deal. In February, former Miss Asia Pacific Dia Mirza tied the knot in an intimate ceremony with her partner Vaibhav Rekhi. The couple’s wedding was solemnised by a Hindu priestess thus normalising the idea that women priests can conduct rituals for weddings and other ceremonies just as well as their male counterparts do.
The second bride who made us cheer for her was Katrina Kaif, who married a man much younger than her- shattering the stereotype that women should ideally marry older men. The reverse age gap between Vicky Kaushal and Kaif set many tongues wagging online, but Kaif was too busy being a stunning bride to pay attention to such trolling.
Then there was one actor who spoke up about facing backlash and shaming due to her separation, raising relevant questions on why society still treats divorced or separated women with such disdain. Telugu superstars Samantha and Naga Chaitanya announced their separation on social media in October this year. A few days later, Samantha slammed people for spreading false rumours about her, in light of her separation. “They say I had affairs, never wanted children, that I am an opportunist and now that I have had abortions.” Samantha went on to promise her fans that she will not let this or anything else people say break her.
When Indian Judiciary Granted Relief To Women Activists
Activist Sudha Bharadwaj was arrested in 2018, in connection with the Bhima Koregaon riots case. Pinjra Tod activists Natasha Narwal and Devangna Kalita were arrested in May 2020, in connection with Delhi riots that broke out earlier last year. Disha Ravi was arrested in February this year on sedition charges, for her alleged involvement with an online toolkit that was related to the farmers’ protests. What’s common between these women activists? They all were granted relief by Indian Justice System this year. Their bail motivate numerous activists across India to continue their fight against what they thought was wrong because the Indian Judiciary was watching over them.
Women lead the world in 2021 – SheThePeople captures some of the most powerful moments around the globe whether Indian and Indian-origin women rose to slay
Women Politicians Raise Slogans Of Challenge
It was two women who gave us the most memorable political slogans of 2021. All India Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee used “Khela Hobe” as a war cry against Bharatiya Janata Party during the West Bengal Legislative Assembly election in 2o21 and the game was on indeed. Banerjee was elected as West Bengal Chief Minister for a third term and now she is eyeing to root out BJP from the centre in 2024!
Now in a run-up to the Legislative Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Congress Party leader Priyanka Gandhi is marching forward with the slogan ” Ladki Hun, Lad Sakti Hun”. Gandhi recently launched a six-point women’s manifesto for the elections in which her party promised to give a 40 percent quota to women in government jobs, smartphones, scooters, and free gas cylinders and a monthly pension of 1,000 rupees to women senior citizens and widows among other things. Read more on that here.
More Women Than Men
The findings of the Fifth National Family and Health Survey revealed that for the first time in India there were more women than men. According to NHFS, India now has 1020 women for every 1000 men. The survey also found that the total fertility rate- the average number of children per woman, has now slipped to 2 in India- hinting that population growth might have peaked in the country and would only contract henceforth.
However, the limited sample size used for the survey does warn us to not be too hopeful about a rectification in the sex ratio. We may have to wait for findings from the next census to have a more accurate picture.
Centre Clears Proposal To Raise Marriageable Age Of Women
On December 16, the Union Cabinet cleared a proposal to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21. The central government will introduce an amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and once that is passed, the centre will also bring amendments to the Special Marriage Act and personal laws such as the Hindu Marriage Act, etc.
The move to raise the marriageable age for women has divided the nation. While most are calling it a positive step to empower and educate young women and help them earn financial independence, many are asking if raising the age bar by three years will do much to deter the advocates of early marriage and parents who still adhere to practices like child marriage.
No doubt, the proposal is a positive step that will enable numerous girls to focus on their studies, personal and individual development, also helping to bring down cases of malnutrition and mortality among young girls caused by early motherhood.