No Political Price Yet
Writing about the "disastrous consequences" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic policies, P Chidambaram in his column for The Indian Express, writes:
“In any other liberal democracy, the home-bound trek of millions of poor workers without money, food or medicines; the shocking shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, medicines, ambulances and even space in crematoriums and burial grounds; the uncertified and uncounted deaths of millions due to Covid-19; the thousands of bodies left to float on the Ganga or left on its banks; the callous neglect of the education of millions of children when the schools were ordered to be shut; and the rising number of unemployed youth, would have challenged the government’s survival. Here, the government carries on nonchalantly, shuts down debate in Parliament, pursues Luddite policies, and dazzles the people with State-sponsored religious spectacles.”P Chidambaram in The Indian Express
Further, sharing the many consequences of the shortcomings of economic policies and the growing injustice in the country, Chidambaram adds, “The Budget (2022-23) is a few days away. It would be a tragedy if the government believed it is Teflon-coated and need not change course. The threat of paying a political price is the only deterrent to an uncaring government.”
Writing on the occasion of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, in his column for The Telegraph, examines the expression “Jai Hind!” and how it is indelibly linked to Bose.
“‘Jai Hind!’ is Netaji’s gift to India’s sense of its self. And that is a stellar gift. I do not wish to over do this characterization, just as I would not wish to portray Netaji’s — or anyone’s — place in time beyond its true scale and scope. That would make for neither good history, nor fair biography, only bad writing. I know very well that the voltage of the phrase, ‘Jai Hind!’, whether as a slogan, a salute, greeting or tribute fluctuates now. When said mechanically in any site or on any occasion, it can and does sound flat. Said routinely, without feeling, and out of mere ‘form’, as a speech-ending, it sounds flatter. And, yet, when intoned or heard in the fullness of its power, as from the Red Fort on Independence Day or at Wagah, it shows all that Netaji intended it to be — pride, confidence, aspiration, joy and, above all, solidarity.”Gopalkrishna Gandhi in The Telegraph.
"But even as a person might have, in addition to a ‘formal’ name, a home-name which identifies him/her or his/her essentiality, her or his individuality, so do India and Bharat have in Hind that which makes our nation home, a safe home, to all her people in their unique individual-nesses — an ideal to which Dr Ambedkar dedicated our Constitution."Gopalkrishna Gandhi in The Telegraph.
Novak to Nitrogen, Pigs to Bulls: Sports Is Often War
Pivoting on Novak Djokovic, who has openly rejected COVID-19 vaccines, Sriram Veera, in his column for The Indian Express, shares how athletes from Michael Jordan to Don Bradman, have gotten precious about their bodies and relied on their own ways, to “extract elite performances”.
Veera writes, “The greatest batsman ever, Don Bradman, developed his unique way, which he attributed for his extraordinary hand-eye coordination. As a child, he would hurl a small golf ball at a rounded water tank. It would come back at odd, unpredictable angles, and he would try to hit them with a single stump. For hours, for days, and months."
"If Bradman’s way was a touch unconventional, the legendary basketball player Michael Jordan went weirder: he used strobe lights, those pulsating lights at discotheques. At the time he would shoot, camera flashes would go off from the edges of the court, which threw him off. So secretly, he got himself strobe sunglasses that mimicked those lights to train. Inadvertently, he found that not only did it help him cope with the manic flashes but also improved his neuromuscular efficiency. Years later, Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Curry used their version of stroboscopic goggles that helped them make game action feel like slow motion. Elite military officers use them for combat training. Sport sometimes is war, alright."Sriram Veera in The Indian Express.
A Queen’s Epitaph
Argha Kumar Banerjee, in his column for The Telegraph, writes on the demise of the tigress ‘Collarwali’ of the Pench Tiger Reserve, and says that her life will serve as "a beacon of hope amidst the rampant ecological destruction all around".
"Other tigresses like ‘Machli’ (Ranthambore National Park) or ‘Maya’ (Tadoba Tiger Reserve) have made themselves centers of attention in the minds of tourists over several decades, but none has endeared herself to the conservationists as Collarwali’s formidable presence in the Pench Tiger Reserve. As a mother, she not only raised numerous litters successfully, but she managed to retain her territory against all odds, often successfully defending her land and cubs against the aggression of male tigers. Unlike other feline mothers, she would lead her cubs out in the open, disregarding the intimidation posed by safari vehicles and tourists assembling from all over the world."Argha Kumar Banerjee in The Telegraph.
Banerjee adds, "No wonder, addressing her as ‘the pride of Madhya Pradesh’, Shivraj Singh Chauhan hailed the ‘mother of 29 cubs’ and stressed the crucial role she played in facilitating tiger conservation in the state: 'The forests of Madhya Pradesh will always resonate with the roar of the cubs of the ‘Queen’ of Pench Tiger reserve.'"
Merging of Flames Is an Attempt to Delink From Our Colonial Past
Writing on the “needless controversy” that has arisen after the merging of Amar Jawan Jyoti with the Eternal Flame at the National War Memorial, Arjun Subramanium, in his column for The Times of India, stresses that “it is a symbolic and inclusive gesture that must not be politicised”.
Adding that “it is also time to delink colonial military history from contemporary and post-independence Indian military history”, Subramanium writes:
“As a military historian of independent India, I have always found it conflicting to reconcile the Amar Jawan Jyoti with the dominating arch of India Gate. The symbolism of merging the flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti with the Eternal Flame at the National War Memorial must be seen as part of the process of remembering and forgetting at the same time.”Arjun Subramanium in The Times of India.
"As they take a long walk, Indians will remember the sacrifice of their colonised countrymen when they visit India Gate and reflect on what compelled millions of their countrymen to join military service and serve the Crown. As they then move on to the National War Memorial, they will absorb the present and see why India’s armed forces are a pillar of its democracy.”Arjun Subramanium in The Times of India.
Bikini Politics: An Itsy-bitsy Issue
“Throughout history, women’s attire, especially those who dare enter the public fray, has attracted controversy; everyone has an opinion on it”, writes Leher Kala in her column for The Indian Express, in the wake of Congress naming 26-year-old Archana Gautam as their candidate from Hastinapur for the coming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
After her candidature was announced, Gautam’s bikini-clad images flooded the internet, giving the Hindu Mahasabha the opportunity to express hurt sentiments.
Dissecting the hurt sentiments, Kala writes:
“Like many 20-somethings of her generation, Gautam sees no contradiction between posing in a bikini and fighting an election but the Twitter fascination for her swimsuit threatens to obscure everything else. The sword the Opposition wields is the judgmental critique, that a woman in a bikini can’t be taken seriously as a politician."Leher Kala in The Indian Express.
The Holo Men
Coming back to Subhas Chandra Bose, a hologram of him at India Gate has been proposed for his 125th birth anniversary, one that will be replaced by a granite statue as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But for now, it is only holos (whole) and gramos - message in Greek, writes Upala Sen in her column for The Telegraph, drawing attention to Modi’s use of holography as a way for omnipresence.
“During general elections 2014, it was holos gramos all the way and Indians were lapping it up. Modi appeared in his holographic avatar in close to 1,500 rallies. He appeared in 128 rallies simultaneously. Crores and crores of rupees were spent on this 3D-style poll. Today prime critic, then prime holos gramos I-pac man Prashant Kishor had said, “The hologram was all about making him omnipresent. The second idea behind doing the hologram was (to project that) only Modi can do this.” Indeed, only Modi can. For now the rejected Bengal tableau celebrating Subhas Bose is forgotten and all attention and accolades have shifted to a holos gramos.”Upala Sen in The Telegraph.
Rights and Duties
Finding two points made in a speech by PM Modi problematic, Tavleen Singh, in her column for The Indian Express, writes about the first point, “If it is the Prime Minister’s case that because Indians have spent too much time fighting for their rights that India is ‘weak’, then he is very wrong.”
“Actually, the only people who seem to have forgotten their duties are the officials who govern India and the politicians that voters elect with so much hope every time elections come around. It is because high officials, elected and unelected, have been derelict in their duties that the average Indian is deprived of rights that are taken for granted in democratic countries elsewhere. The tragic reality is that millions of Indians cannot afford even to go to court to seek justice when they are deprived of their rights. It is this that should worry our leaders.”Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express.
The second point being about the supposed attempts to tarnish India’s image at the international level, Singh adds:
“So, what is it that is worrying the Prime Minister so much that he believes there is an international plot to ‘tarnish’ India’s image? Could it be that he has been reading those stories in the international media about how Muslims and Christians have been targeted by violent Hindutva mobs? Is he worried that the Western media has been very critical of the activities of vigilantes who have lynched Muslims on the suspicion of eating beef?”Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express
Pointing out that it is PM Modi’s image that has been tarnished more than that of India’s, Singh concludes, “The great privilege of living in a democratic country is that we can take certain rights for granted. The right to speak out against the government is one of them, and this right has been so infringed of late that dissidents, journalists and students have been jailed under preventive detention laws meant for terrorists. It is these things that have ‘tarnished’ the Prime Minister’s image.”
A Grim Battle for Uttarakhand
In the run up to the Uttarakhand assembly polls, Kalyani Shankar, in her column for The Statesman, writes, “Upper castes dominate this state, where they number over sixty percent. Congress and the BJP are in a close fight. The two national parties have also ruled the state since it was established in 2000. This time the young Aam Aadmi Party is also trying to penetrate.”
Listing the reasons why Uttarakhand polls will be a “do-or-die battle”, Shankar writes,
“The BJP has changed three chief ministers in the last five years, indicating political instability. The state has seen 11 chief ministers since its inception, of which the BJP’s share was seven, and the Congress’ three. The BJP’s Maj Gen Khanduri was Chief minister twice. Secondly, the party does not have a charismatic chief ministerial candidate. Senior BJP leaders have become spent forces now. The party is depending on the Modi magic.”Kalyani Shankar in The Statesman.
Also writing about the Aam Aadmi Party’s efforts to make the fight triangular, Shankar adds,
“Kejriwal has already declared Col Ajay Kothiyal as his party’s Uttarakhand chief ministerial candidate. Kejriwal is keen to get the support of the youth and the defence service personnel. Seat selection is not complete for many players, but the BJP has shown cautious social engineering. Some defectors also have got seats as part of their bargaining. Though prepoll surveys predict a BJP win, there could be surprises. It all depends on how much the young AAP acts as a spoiler.”Kalyani Shankar in The Statesman.