New Year View: Odd-Even, Free Basics, Regional Cinema and More
1. Happy New Odd, Happy New Even Year
January 1 will signal the start of a serious attempt by the government to control air pollution. For the next fortnight, whether or not you drive on Delhi roads will be determined by the date. Here’s hoping that the controversial odd-even rationing policy does what it sets out to do– reduce Delhi’s air pollution levels.
Read the full story in The Indian Express.
2. Free Basics is a Walled Garden: Here’s a Much Better Scheme
Facebook’s Free Basics has been the subject of much deliberation. Zuckerberg’s latest initiative has faced a massive backlash from the discerning, Internet-using public. Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah explain why in The Times of India.
We have witnessed Facebook’s massive multimedia campaign over the last few days – double spreads in newspapers, ad campaigns on television and heavy promotion on Facebook itself. While similar earlier attempts from telecom operators were stalled by the volunteer-run SaveTheInternet campaign, Facebook has mounted a multi-million dollar campaign powered by marketing muscle and its own platform to generate support for Free Basics without explaining all the facts.
3. The Recovery of Idealism
Regardless of one’s political allegiances, the year has given people plenty to debate, discuss and deliberate. Whatever else we may or may not see eye to eye about, we must admit that the year gone by was marked by a deeper corrosion of idealism than usual. Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes for The Indian Express.
I am using idealism not in a philosophical sense that the world is the imprint of our ideas, or even the utopian sense that a more redeemed world is possible, or the deep moral sense where the self is sacrificed to higher moral good. I am using idealism in the sense of creating a world where the balance of hope and fear, trust and distrust, possibility and constraint, progress and inertia tends in the positive direction.
4. So What’s ‘New’ About the New Year?
Writing in The Times of India, Jug Suraiya is of the opinion that we need a new greeting to usher in the new year. What ‘new’ year and calender is being referred to, given that there are a plethora of new years?
Napoleon dismissed the Holy Roman Empire as being neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire. Today he might well have expressed similar reservations about the greeting: Happy New Year. Napoleon could have questioned the word ‘year’. Which specific year was being referred to, there being a bumper harvest of the darn things? The Christian new year, the Hindu new year, the Bengali new year, the Gregorian new year, the financial new year, and, for all no one knows, a Masonic new year which, like all things Masonic, is so secret that no one knows when it is, not even the Masons.
5. Predicting Doom
Writing in The Indian Express, MJ Akbar warns that it may be premature to celebrate rosy predictions for the new year. Sometimes, he says, the astrologer who predicts doom, is unfortunately, right.
Predictions are as old as civilisation, as the year-end issue of the Economist reminds me. Ancient Greece had the Delphic oracle; the seer, incidentally, was always a woman (presumably because men are less trustworthy). When King Croesus of Lydia (proverbial for his wealth) sought to conquer Persia, he consulted Delphi. The oracle predicted that a great empire would be destroyed in this war. This turned out to be perfectly true, except that the empire which vanished was that of Croesus. So be careful before you celebrate a rosy prediction. The astrologer is always right, but sometimes regrettably so.
6. Unsung Heroes: The Armed Forces and Disaster Management
When disaster strikes, the armed forces are the first to be called in and are the last to leave. The impression this creates is that they are only ‘doing their duty.’ The reality is that disaster mitigation and management are not formalised duties of the armed forces, writes Vaishna Roy, for The Hindu.
Not only does the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 not indicate any primacy for the role of the armed forces, it does not even formalise their role; merely stating that the management of disasters could include the “deployment of naval, military and air forces, other armed forces of the Union or any other civilian personnel as may be required for the purposes of this Act”.
7. The Year Of The Regional Film
Many of 2015’s best films spoke in different tongues. In other words, they weren’t in Hindi and filmmakers are realising that language is not a limit, writes Shubhra Gupta for The Indian Express.
Many of the best films of 2015 spoke in tongues. Qissa was in Punjabi, Court was a mix, but mainly spoke in Marathi with bits of English, Hindi, Gujarati, Killa was again in Marathi, Kaaka Muttai was in Tamil, and Bahubali, the film that proved that Bollywood can dream up a canvas as big as any Hollywood tentpole, and execute it, too, was in Telugu.
8. Is the economy sick?
Writing in The Hindu, Salman Anees Soz says that the Modi government’s policy is inconsistent with double-digit growth. Modi’s policies, he says, is choking domestic demand at a time when global demand is weak.
After all, for the last several months, we have all heard that India is now the fastest growing large economy in the world. One gets the feeling that the Indian economy is turbocharged and major progress is around the corner. Yet, there are also reports of many economists and analysts indicating that economic growth doesn’t “feel” that robust. So, something doesn’t “feel” right and this “feeling” isn’t going away. When things don’t “feel” right, perhaps we are dealing with some sickness.
9. Indian Sport Poised for a Significant Leap in Rio
As a new sporting season begins, things are looking hopeful for India in the Rio Olympics, writes Kamesh Srinivasan for The Hindu.
Leander Paes who had triggered the Olympic revival with the individual tennis bronze, against the much superior ranked opponents, in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, is set to compete in his seventh successive Olympics. The hope of a second Olympic medal, which wrestler Sushil Kumar was able to win with such a flourish, a silver in the London Games after the bronze in Beijing, is still alive in the heart of Paes, despite the heart-wrenching losses.