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Remembering how India was in 2008 when we won our last Olympics gold medal

Let's take a quick time-machine ride and get a flashback of how India looked when Abhinav Bindra had won the last Olympics gold medal.

India in 2008 when we won the last Olympics gold medal

Remembering how India was in 2008 when we won the last Olympics gold medal


Md Imtiaz

Updated: 14 July 2021 7:40 AM GMT

In just about two years, people across the world have found themselves as helpless hostages under the heel of a coronavirus siege. Life has taken a backseat in between the prolonged work from home culture, coping with lockdowns, losing sleep in fear for the upcoming waves, and the inability to memorise the nomenclatures of the newly discovered strains. Probably sports remains our biggest respite today.

After an eventful month of the Euros, Copa America, and Wimbledon, all eyes will switch from the green meadows of the All England Tennis Club to the prefectures in Tokyo, where the grandest sporting extravaganza will be underway.

Indians will be weaving big sporting dreams again when over 120 athletes will take part in the Tokyo Olympics. With a track record of just 28 medals and languishing in the 53rd column of the medals tally, we are almost on the verge of forgetting the fragrance of an Olympic gold medal, which was won for the first and last time by an Indian individual in 2008.

Abhinav Bindra after winning the Olympic gold medal in Beijing 2008

It was on August 11, 2008, Abhinav Bindra became the first Indian to win an individual Olympic gold medal. Bindra had achieved the feat during the 2008 Beijing Olympics in shooting, and the 10-metre air rifle shooter was seen at the top of his craft.

The shooter had shot a 10.8 on his last shot and this sealed the gold medal for the Indian team. Before this shot, he was tied with Finland's Henri Hakkinen and if he had shot anything less than 10.8, he would not have won the gold medal.

The benchmark set by Bindra is yet to be emulated by any Indian again. No doubt, cheap internet, Netflix, social media, more smart cities have made its influx in India in the last 13 years. But we can take a pause and try to comprehend through a quick time-machine ride how India looked when it had won the last Olympic gold medal? Let's see if our humble gesture to make you feel old enough hits the bull's eye:

Petrol averaging less than Kohli

When it comes to petrol, every Indian city have breached the record this year, batting fearlessly and pulling off their maiden centuries. Mumbai's petrol is retailing at Rs 106.93 per litre. In Delhi, the fuel rate is currently Rs 100.91 per litre. In Chennai, the pump rate is Rs 101.67 per litre of petrol.

Kolkata has witnessed a rise in petrol prices, which stands at Rs 101.01 per litre. The start-up hub, Bangalore, has a petrol retail rate of 104.29 per litre. However, commoners remain clueless about when they can see an end of this surge as the ripples of fuel price is only adding to burning holes in their pockets. If we go back to 2008, petrol price was as economical as Rs 45 a litre.

The government today has not paid any outstanding oil bonds since March 2015. Out of Rs 1.44 lakh crore bonds issued by the UPA government between 2005 and 2010, only two bonds totalling to Rs 3,500 crore matured during the NDA's regime in 2015. According to the government's budget document, under Annexure 6A to 6H, the next bond is scheduled to mature in October 2021.

Sidha debut of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah

Jethalal from Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah

Thirteen years ago, Indians were introduced to the Gokuldham Society in the bylanes of Powder Gali, Goregaon East. The residents of the society who appeared on our TV screens at 8: 30 pm made it a promise to make us laugh and forget all our worries.

Today, 'Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah' has become the longest-running comedy series in India and is going still going strong. A show initially thought to be an underdog, sans the quintessential star power, has become a legend with no intention of going off the air anytime soon. The show that chronicles the antiques of Jethalal, Daya, Tappu, and other residents of Gokuldham has become a cult hit of Indian television space.

The great recession

The Great Recession which happened between December 2007 and June 2008 was a global economic downturn that devastated world financial markets as well as the banking and real estate industries. The crisis led to increases in home mortgage foreclosures worldwide and caused millions of people to lose their life savings, their jobs and their homes.

It's generally considered to be the longest period of economic decline since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Although its effects were definitely global in nature, the Great Recession was most pronounced in the United States—where it originated as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis—and in Western Europe.

India although escaped the direct adverse impact of it, since its financial sector, particularly its banking, was very weakly integrated with global markets and practically unexposed to mortgage-backed securities, it suffered the "second round" effects when the financial meltdown morphed into a worldwide economic downturn.

The Chaiwala India fell in love in Slumdog Millionaire

A scene from Slumdog Millionaire

Six years before Narendra Modi could delineate his 'tear-jerking', 'heart-warming', and 'thought evoking journal of how a chaiwala rose to be India's Prime Minister in 2014, India had fallen in love with another chaiwala (of course in a corporate office space) Jamal Malik, played by actor Dev Patel in the multi-Academy Award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire.

The story chronicled an 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who was about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation's eye set on him, he was just one question away from winning a whopping Rs 20 Crore on Kaun Banega Crorepati.

The visual masterpiece of a movie directed by Danny Boyle and scored by the legendary AR Rahman fetched eight Oscars at the 81st Academy Award, where Kerala's Resul Pookutty won the award for best sound mixing.

Cricket weds Bollywood

Many moons before Lalit Modi's and Vijay Mallya's exile from India, the country received a whole-hearted gift which led to the perfect marriage between the two of its most-loved subjects in India - Cricket and Bollywood. By the year 2007, the T20 format had taken the cricketing world by storm.
Lalit Modi decided to start his brainchild, a Twenty20 league called the Indian Premier League. He brought in Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Amabanis, Mallya, and other business tycoons to buy franchises in the IPL. The first-ever IPL match was played between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders on April 18, 2008. Who remembers that terrific knock of 158 by Brendon McCullum from the pilot episode of season 1?

The scam of all scams

India has a long history of scams, however, the 2008 2G spectrum case till date remains the mother of all scams. The incident saw former telecom minister A Raja being forced to resign after the CAG indicted him in the 2G spectrum scam that resulted in a loss of about Rs 176,000 crore to the national exchequer.

The scandal revolves around the alleged irregularities in allotting wireless radio spectrum and licences by the telecom ministry to private operators — some of whom were ineligible. Licences were given and spectrum allocation was done at an extremely low price (2001 prices in the year 2008) leading to a gargantuan loss to the national coffers.

Anushka Sharma's haule haule entry in Bollywood

A still from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma is now one of the influential actors in the film industry who has already stepped into the shoes of a producer. Besides, she shares an added glamour as one of the most loved couples in India with cricketer Virat Kohli.

Be it as an actor or a producer, Anushka won the hearts of the Indian audience ever since her debut film 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi' opposite Shah Rukh Khan, which was released in 2008. The actor, who was 20 when she made her debut, was praised for her confidence on screen, something that she said came after a lot of hard work.

The record-Breaking Bad

A still from Breaking Bad

2008 was also the debut year for the show Breaking Bad, which is often deemed as the best-ever made television series in the world. The show about a bald chemistry teacher was a literal masterpiece revolving around Walter White, who was undergoing a mid-life crisis, and suffered from cancer, felt cheated, and took a resort to measures of cooking meth in ridiculous amounts to sustain himself and his family.

Apart from the stunning visuals and incredible cinematography, director Vince Gilligan's genius shone through each and every detailed episode and layered character arc.

With unique dialogues and complex references to chemistry, this show is still devoured by fans. The series is poetic from the very start to the end with brilliant, wide-ranging imagery. The creators also made sure to stop at an appropriate point in the fifth season, ending with Walter's death.

Pratibha Patil was India's president

When Abhinav Bindra had won the gold medal in 2008, President Pratibha Patil led the nation in congratulating ace shooter. From the demure sari-clad surprise candidate of UPA-I to the confident Sukhoi-flying Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Pratibha Patil, India's first woman president, re-wrote history.

Who remembers Orkut testimonials?

For a lot of Indians now living and breathing their social media life on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, there was a Google product that first took them by storm: Orkut. Orkut still evokes nostalgia among a section even today, which was in large their entry into the world of social networks.

The platform enjoyed unparalleled popularity in Brazil and India, especially among people in their 20s. Today, they remember Orkut as something they 'did' before Facebook. While the rest of the world had turned to Facebook, Indian social media users in large part stuck around with Orkut until about 2009.

With less than two weeks to go before the Indian contingent steps in Tokyo for the Olympics, an entire nation would want to forget the weary thoughts of the coronavirus and revel in the glory as India waits for another gold medal.

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