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Sunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just For You 

Read the best opinion and editorial articles from across the print media on Sunday View. 

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India
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Across the Aisle: Celebrating Gods, Neglecting Children – 2

In his column for Indian Express, P Chidambaram takes a look at the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) and its chilling statistics about education in India.

He writes that while enrolment in school has increased, the foundational skills have declined and a Class VIII student cannot read a class II text. The students who dropped out did so due to financial reasons, lack of interest or because they had failed.

Chidambaram calls the Indian education system a failure as students are not given foundational skills, are barely literate and employable only in low-skill jobs.

“Having the second largest standing army in the world or possessing nuclear weapons or putting satellites in orbit will not make a country a great power — or even a great people — if our children grow up into adults who are simply not equipped to build a great economy or a great nation.”
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Why only Haj? End subsidies for all pilgrims

The Constitution declared India secular and the government must stay away from any religious group which is why Swaminathan Iyer said he welcomed the abolition of Haj subsidy in his column for The Times of India.

The BJP always called the Haj subsidy a tactic of “minority appeasement” but it also launched in 2017 the Punyadham Yatra scheme, subsidising transport and accommodation for pilgrims to Puri, Vrindavan, Ajmer Sharif, Mathura and Vaishno Devi.

Aiyar said that many state governments have been giving subsidies for years but their selection favours some while discriminates against others. These subsidies would be struck down as violating the Constitution in US and France, he argued.

“All political parties, Congress and non-Congress, are waist-deep in subsidies for pilgrims of several religions... This is cynical vote-bank politics, exactly what the Haj subsidy was for the Congress... All religions have large, formal institutions with ample coffers. Some Indian temples and wakf boards are enormously rich. Why should these religious bodies not be held responsible to subsidise poor pilgrims of their own community? They already get massive tax breaks. Let these be used to help poor pilgrims.”

States Must Preserve Freedom of Expression

The Supreme Court’s ruling that no state could impose a total or partial ban on the film ‘Padmaavat’ came as a political embarrassment for those states who proposed the ban, writes Karan Thapar in his weekly Hindustan Times column.

The states’ argument that the film would cause a law and order situation was unacceptable as it turns on its head the state’s actual duty, which if they cannot fulfil then they should resign said Thapar.

“What the state governments have ensured, by their pusillanimity and their willingness to justify unconstitutional demands, is to embolden such forces as the Karni Sena. A stronger initial response could have checked them. But that was not to be.... Our politicians are more scared of the challenges they face and less committed to the rights and liberties they’re elected to uphold.”
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Modi in Davos

While Prime Minister Modi has made efforts to get foreign investment in India since he took office, the government has not made half as much effort to get Indians to invest in India, says Taveleen Singh in her weekly Indian Express dispatch.

She says that Indians are as enterprising as anyone else but due to poverty and illiteracy, they are strong-armed by municipal officials who have thrived under the memories of the license raj and still try to revive it wherever they can. Singh says these officials love power and hate change and so they can never truly support the PM’s aim of ‘parivartan’ and ‘vikas’ as it would reduce their power.

“Nobody knows better than the PM that he will not be able to win a second term next year unless young Indians see millions more jobs by then... He has shown no reluctance to meet foreign businessmen but a definite reluctance to meet Indian businessmen, so the information he gets about the problems they face is usually filtered through high officials.”

India’s shining moment has passed, will Modi’s arrival in the Alpine village revive the Indian conversation?

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Every President of India Is a Defender of the Constitution

For his column in The Telegraph, Gopal Krishna Gandhi takes a look at the country’s 10th president Kocheril Raman Narayanan and the current president Ram Nath Kovind.

He compares them as being ‘outsiders’ to the general population, being non-controversial and with no enemies and their initial tenure of both of them went by without any bias. So, the first R-Day speech of Kovind is expected to be of the finest mettle. Narayanan would read the in-house inputs for the speech and interspersed into it his own lines by hand neatly, which would then form the final speech.

“A mature and trusty convention, which does not override the Constitutional arrangement about presidential powers (or the lack of them), has given the president of India a clean sheet of paper on which to pen a president’s own thoughts on Republic Day.”
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Why Have We Become so Violent?

In his weekly column for The Tribune, Harish Khare muses on the violence that people perpetrate onto one another in society. He says something very wrong and disagreeable is happening in our society, and no one seems to be able to want to do anything about it.

Khare says the politician is busy practising his divisive craft, creating cleavages and conflicts, accusing the other of being anti this or pro that. He finds social tranquillity gone and disintegration is setting in during which the politician is encouraging people to be rude and vicious to others in his defence.

“Outwardly, we are becoming more and more ritualistically religious; the elevating, ennobling content of religion is getting depleted. Maybe, this is the price we have to pay for becoming a consumerist society and for our unrelenting urbanisation. We all end up being deracinated souls.” 
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Men Should Lead the Equality Battle

“A girl is far more responsible for rape” is what the driver of the bus in which the 2012 gangrape happened, which echoes the sentiments of most Indian men, says Lalita Panicker in her opening for her Hindustan Times column.

It’s been five years since that horrible crime yet the nation is struggling to explain why crimes against women are on the rise and just last week two minor girls were raped and brutalised before getting murdered, like the 2012 case, said Panicker.

While the ambit of rape’s definition has increased, men and minors are acting with impunity. Men need to become partners in the fight for equality. Many young men grow up watching the unequal relationship, often abusive, play out between their parents.

“The fight for women’s rights cannot exclude men and no one, feminist or otherwise, should think so.We need more role models from among influential men to speak up against gender violence, to speak up for women’s worth and rights.”
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Changing Times: My Story Then and Now

Ira Pande finds that as families shrink into smaller and smaller units, the old gracious ways of sharing homes and warm hospitality are under threat, in her column for The Tribune.

Pande finds parents in a hurry to go back to their phones that they speed through mealtimes and the sitting down together at the dining table, with banter and jokes flowing freely, is slowly going away.

She says that the change has been brought about by technology which didn’t exist earlier, making families cherish the time they had with one another rather than always being accessible via phone and WhatsApp.

“There is an explosion of information today and all of us oldies will agree that the new generation is far more aware of what is happening in the world. Those little cocoons of domestic lives are being smashed as the children deal with a wider and wider circle of languages, cuisine and clothes.” 
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Out of My Mind: Kurukshetra 2019

In his weekly column in Indian Express, Meghnad Desai states that the upcoming Karanataka polls will be fought on the common ground of Hindutva by the BJP and Congress.

Desai states that Hindutva is being seen as a close ideology to fascism and how Rahul Gandhi visited a temple on his first visit to Amethi, something which he hasn’t done till now. The Congress may want to have it’s own version of Hindutva which is liberal and inclusive which it will contrast to BJP’s and paint it anti-Muslim and anti-Dalit, Desai adds. Congress is going back to its roots, a party ruled by the Hindu-elite, in which Muslims, women and OBCs remained downtrodden after Nehru, Desai said.

“Nehru had a powerful commitment to secularism... Once Nehru was gone, the commitment to secularism slipped and became merely a pursuit of the Muslim vote bank. Indira Gandhi visited temples and had a stable of swamis to advise her. Rajiv Gandhi was much more explicitly Hindu and quite openly treated secularism as a tactic, balancing Shilanyas against Shah Bano. ”
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