This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com
Virat Kohli played this many innings less than Joe Root’s (37 versus 41) while racking up a near-similar count of runs across all three formats in 2016 ( 2,595 versus 2,570 ). Kohli and Root finished Nos.1 and 2 in runs scored, but the Indian batted at another level, returning a Bradmanesque 86 runs per innings—76 in Tests, 92 in One Dayers and 107 in T20s—against Root’s 50. And he also led the Test side to an undefeated year, with 9 wins in 12 matches.
18 years, 228 days
At that fresh age, Max Verstappen became the youngest winner of a Formula One race. He made a shining claim to being the next big thing in F1: swallowing slower cars, hustling faster ones, testing the limits of driving ethics unapologetically. “I’m not here to finish fourth,” he once told his team boss over car radio, when asked to preserve a position and not overtake.
Tennis player Nora Polley was the first Indian woman to participate in the Olympics, in the 1924 Paris Games. Weightlifter Karnam Malleswari was the first Indian woman to win a medal, a bronze, in 2000. It took till Rio this year, 92 years after Polley, that an Indian woman won an Olympic silver. That’s the kind of Olympic history 21-year-old P.V. Sindhu made in 2016.
Before Google and Facebook, there was Yahoo. And then, there wasn’t. A poster child of the Internet in the 1990s, valued once at $125 billion, Yahoo had been in decline for many years. Its main operating business was sold to US telecom company Verizon for $4.8 billion, at a difference of 96% from its peak valuation. One magazine called it the “saddest $5 billion deal in tech history”.
The number of firms in the 30-share BSE Sensex whose chairperson is older than 78-year-old Ratan Tata. In the biggest story of corporate India in 2016, Tata Sons removed Cyrus Mistry as chairman of the Tata group and brought back Ratan Tata—his predecessor, who instituted reductions in age for key Tata positions—as interim chairman. It triggered a wave of firings, resignations, recriminations, letters and lawsuits.
On 8 November, in an attempt to call out black money, the government called back all Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes. In one stroke, 86% of the currency in circulation was rendered worthless. Cash curbs followed. The government asked citizens for 50 days to restore normalcy. As of 19 December, only Rs5.92 trillion, or 38% of the cancelled amount, had been put back into circulation, suggesting more pain in early 2017.
Rs 100 cr collections
If Eid belongs to Salman Khan and Diwali to Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan has come to own Christmas. And how. ‘Taare Zameen Par’, ‘Ghajini’, ‘3 Idiots’, ‘Dhoom 3’, ‘PK’ and, in 2016, ‘Dangal’. On its first weekend, ‘Dangal’ crossed Rs100 crore in ticket sales. It’s on pace to mount a serious challenge to ‘Sultan’, the biggest-grossing Hindi film of 2016 so far, and ‘PK’, which holds the all-time record for Hindi films.
They popped up in parks and in medical wards. And people, about 500 million of them, reached for their smartphones to ‘capture’ them. ‘Pokemon GO’, a mobile game that picks up a user’s location to flash virtual creatures, called Pokemon, in their surroundings with the aim of catching them, was one of the most used and profitable apps in 2016. In its first week, users averaged 75 minutes per day on the Pokemon app—more than WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat.
Life called time on five shining stars of popular music, who left behind bodies of work and personal statements that were rich in texture and wide in appeal. Between them, Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, George Michael and Rick Parfitt (of Status Quo) released 119 studio albums and sold an estimated 500 million records.
Count the costs. By various estimates, 85 civilians and two policemen died. Another 13,000 civilians and 4,000 police personnel were injured. For 53 days, the Kashmir Valley was under curfew, its longest spell ever. The killing of Hizbul Mujahideen separatist Burhan Wani by security forces in an encounter saw major protests erupt across Kashmir. Security forces responded to the throwing of stones by protestors by using pellet guns, which, while intended to be ‘non-lethal’, resulted in serious injuries, including blindness.
$14 billion wealth
Not in living memory has a US president caused such divide. Or, fear and loathing. The $14 billion combined wealth of president-elect Donald Trump’s top appointments—which are still getting made—might be the highest ever in a presidential team. Democrat rival Bernie Sanders called it a “cabinet of billionaires”. Trump remains unfazed. His top team includes Rex Tillerson of Exxon, Gary Cohn of Goldman Sachs, and billionaires Todd Ricketts (net worth $5.3 billion) and Betsy DeVos ($5.1 billion).
0.94 degree Celsius
The earth continues to heat up. Average global temperature between January and November 2016 was above the 20th century average of 14 degrees Celsius by 0.94 degree Celsius, according to the US’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). By comparison, the average of records between 1880 and 2015 show a rise of 0.04 degree Celsius. This is likely to make 2016 the hottest year on record; 16 of the 17 hottest years on record then would belong to this century (the one remaining is 1998).
0 good-air days
This was the year when air purifiers entered Indian homes and took their place next to inverters and water filters as exhibits of state or human failing. Data compiled by the Central Pollution Control Board in 2016 on monitoring done in 2015 showed that 13 Indian cities with a combined population of about 41 million people had fewer than 20% good-air days (of the total days monitored). Mumbai had 13% good-air days in 2015, Delhi had 4%. Varanasi, Gwalior and Allahabad did not have a single good-air day.
Today, it pales before mobile wallets like Paytm, but the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is one to watch. A digital-payments option designed for mobiles, and aimed at making money transfer as easy as sending an SMS, UPI allows money transfer between bank accounts without using an intermediary (like Paytm). Part of a series of digital public infrastructure built around Aadhaar, UPI has been integrated into the Android apps of over 30 banks. Against 287,000 transactions in November, UPI clocked 719,000 in the first fortnight of December as demonetization nudged more to check out digital options for payments.
Entrepreneur Elon Musk unveiled an ambitious plan to make humans multi-planetary species: high-powered, reusable rockets and large ships that can ferry about 100 earthlings at a time to Mars in 80 days. Musk believes the cost of a trip can be brought to $200,000 (Rs1.36 crore), even $100,000 as the operation scales up. Often compared to Steve Jobs, Musk sees the first flight blast-off in a decade.
The torchbearer of white-collar jobs in India is losing its flame. In 2015-16, the IT-BPO (information technology and business process outsourcing) sector hired 200,000 employees, down from 230,000 in 2014-15, due to lower demand and automation. Industry body Nasscom has lowered growth projections for the sector to 10-12% in 2016-17, from 12-14% earlier. The $28 billion BPO segment, a lead indicator for outsourcing, has been busy using technology to do jobs done by people earlier.