India

India in 2013: Revisiting news highlights

Tendulkar (17 November)
Image caption Sachin Tendulkar's retirement was arguably the biggest news story of 2013
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Image caption The legendary cricketer was on papers' front pages on 17 November
The New Indian Express
Image caption Several pundits revisited the highlights of his career
DNA newspaper
Image caption Tendulkar's fans found it difficult to imagine cricket without him
15 July
Image caption The closure of India's 163-year old telegram service sparked nostalgia
The Telegraph
Image caption Flash floods ravaged several areas of northern Uttarakhand state in June
14 Oct
Image caption The government was better prepared during Cyclone Phailin and saved many lives
A Delhi court sentences gave death sentences to four convicts in the brutal Delhi gang-rape case
Image caption A Delhi court gave death sentences to four convicts in the brutal Delhi gang-rape case
29 August
Image caption Many describe 2013 as a "gloomy year" for the Indian economy
6/11
Image caption India's maiden mission to Mars was seen as a significant achievement
12 Dec
Image caption Gay rights suffered a setback when a court ruling made homosexuality criminal in September
Indian Express on 26 Jan
Image caption Many are describing the rise of the debutant Aam Aadmi Party as the political story of the year

It was a year that saw cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar retire from the sport he served for more than two decades, and also witnessed India bid farewell to its 163-year-old telegram service.

The country also had moments of happiness in its maiden Mars mission and Bollywood's centenary celebrations.

But beyond farewells and celebrations, the year also brought sorrow for Indians as two massive natural disasters struck different parts of the country.

'God of cricket' retires

Thank you - these two words very much summed up India's mood on 16 December when Tendulkar bowed out from all forms of cricket.

The legend carried the hopes and aspirations of a billion people and it was only apt when fans stood up to salute a hero who had united India like nobody else in the past 25 years.

Tendulkar's formidable cricketing records aside, most people will remember him as a player who remained humble and grounded despite his stardom.

The news about his retirement, arguably the biggest story of the year, sparked emotions of sadness, joy and pride in the media as writers filled pages with what can be best described as their love for the Little Master, as Tendulkar was fondly called.

Telegram service ends. STOP

The world sent its last telegram when India's state-owned telecom company shut its 163-year-old telegraph service on 15 July.

The service had become largely irrelevant due to the advent of the mobile phone and computers, but that did not stop many from reminiscing over the rich history of the service.

The closure sparked a feeling of nostalgia in newspapers as they remembered the telegram's importance during the British rule and the role of the humble postman, who was the bearer of all kinds of news, in connecting India's villages to its cities.

The service had a deep connection with India as it was regularly shown as a mode of communication in early Bollywood films - where the news ranged from a hero sending a telegram to his father about his new job or a family receiving information about the death of their breadwinner in a battle field.

Telegrams always triggered a sense of excitement and it wasn't surprising when thousands queued up to send a final "nostalgic telegram" on 15 July.

Delhi gang rape verdict

The tragedy that unfolded on 16 December 2012 when a 23-year-old student was gang-raped on a moving bus in Delhi somewhat saw a closure after the four convicts were given the death sentence in September this year.

The verdict was welcomed by the media and became one of the biggest stories of the year as it came in the backdrop of widespread anger across the country.

Unfortunately, violence against women in India has not seen a drop as reports of rapes and other forms of sexual assault were reported throughout the year.

However, protests that erupted after the horrific event shook-up the government on the issue of women safety and forced it to come up with stricter new anti-rape laws.

Two disasters - different approaches

Natural disasters left many dead and homeless in India in 2013 but there was a lesson to be learnt after the government averted a major crisis when tropical storm Phailin hit the country's eastern shores in October.

The government had issued warnings days in advance and evacuated thousands to reduce the number of casualties.

Contrary to this, floods in the mountainous state of Uttarakhand in northern India killed hundreds of people in June.

Relatives of those dead or stranded in the state were left in despair due to a lack of coordination in rescue efforts.

Many of those who died were tourists travelling to the state for pilgrimage.

Newspapers blamed rampant construction, mining and massive power projects in the northern Himalayan states for the flooding and termed it a man-made disaster.

The 'Modi wave'

The year also marked the rise of controversial Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi as the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate for PM in next year's general elections.

The Gujarat chief minister, accused of not doing enough to protect Muslims in the 2002 riots, is a deeply polarising figure in Indian politics.

He, however, has always denied these allegations.

India's ruling Congress party claims Mr Modi's accession to the throne will divide the country on religious lines.

However, Mr Modi's stature seems to be growing both inside and outside his party largely due to his energetic, nationalist speeches.

He strongly attacks the Congress for corruption and promises to resolve the country's economic problems.

The year also marked the outstanding debut of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or Common Man's Party, born out of a strong anti-corruption movement and tapping into popular disenchantment with the major political parties.

The party won 28 seats in the Delhi assembly elections and its leader Arvind Kejriwal has become the chief minister of the state.

Analysts say the AAP has offered itself as a credible alternative to people fed up with corruption, unresponsive politicians and high inflation.

'Proud to be gay'

On 11 December, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community was left in despair after the Supreme Court overturned a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court ruling which had decriminalised gay sex.

In what many observers said was a "redundant" move, the top court reinstated the colonial-era Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

According to Section 377, a 153-year-old colonial-era law, a same-sex relationship is an "unnatural offence" and punishable by a 10-year jail term.

Many in the media and top gay rights activists, such as popular author Vikram Seth, publicly opposed the court's decision, saying it will force the LGBT community to move "back into the closet".

A battered-looking Seth featured on the cover of the India Today magazine issue as a mark of protest.

He is shown holding a slate-board that says "NOT A CRIMINAL".

Some papers saw the verdict as a measure to "deny basic human rights" to a section of the country's population.

The Indian Express said the ruling is "sad and shameful" because Section 377 is "mostly used to harass, humiliate and deny freedom to consenting homosexual adults".

Mission to Mars

Many Indians felt proud when the country's space agency launched its maiden Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on 5 November.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described it as a "historic achievement" and congratulated scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro).

India will enter an elite group that includes the United States, Europe and Russia if Isro's spacecraft reaches the Red Planet.

Economic gloom

The year did not bring much cheer for the country's economy as the rupee continued to slide for most of 2013.

The rupee dropped by nearly 4% to a new low of 68.7 to the US dollar on 28 August amid growing concerns over the health of the country's economy.

It has recovered slightly but continues to perform weakly in the international market.

Newspapers and pundits mostly added to the negative sentiment throughout the year.

Now one hopes that the new year will bring renewed energy into India's struggling economy.

The Kumbh Mela and Bollywood's 100 years

The year also witnessed a show like no other as the world's largest gathering took place in the northern city of Allahabad on 11 February.

Several million people bathed at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers during the two-month long Kumbh Mela festival.

The event, held every 12 years, is billed as the biggest gathering on Earth and attracts Nagas (naked holy men), assorted gurus and tourists from all over the world.

And finally, India's Bollywood celebrated 100 years of Indian cinema in 2013.

Additional reporting by Mukesh Adhikary

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.