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

The Quint brings you a selection of the best weekend opinion pieces.

9 min read
Nothing like your morning cuppa and a newspaper on a Sunday. 

Inside Track: VHP’s Clout

There’s Page 3, but for those of us who like our gossip to be political, Coomi Kapoor’s weekly column for The Indian Express gives us our fix. This week Kapoor tells us why the VHP is completely unapologetic about Sadhvi Pragya’s comments on Hemant Karkare, the rift between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, Sharad Pawar and Raj Thackeray’s tacit alliance, and the darar between siblings Tejashwi Yadav, Tej Pratap Yadav and Misa Bharti.

Oh and that video of Smriti Irani vigorously working a hand pump? That was uploaded by the Congress!

Elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav is furious with Tejashwi for sidelining him in the campaign and not heeding his demand that his estranged father-in-law Chandrika Rai should not be given a party ticket from Saran. The real worry for Tejashwi is not Tej Pratap, who is known to be a maverick, but his older sister Misa Bharati, who is fighting the election from Pataliputra. Misa is believed to have encouraged Tej Pratap to embarrass Tejashwi, who did not show up to even campaign for his sister, though her Pataliputra contest is said to be tough. Mother Rabri Devi at home and father Lalu Prasad in jail can do little to control the squabbling siblings.
Coomi Kapoor in The Indian Express

Parliamentary Democracy: Does It Really Work For India?

What is a good form of governance to run India? Is democracy in its first-past-the-post form really the best in a federal country with such huge diversity? In his column for the The Hindustan Times, Mark Tully talks about why a Parliamentary system of government might not be India’s best bet. If you’re someone interested in knowing the different ways elections work and governments are elected then definitely give this one a read.

The results of the 2014 election demonstrate how undemocratic the first-past-the-post voting proved to be. We have come to believe that a popular wave swept Narendra Modi into Parliament, whereas, in fact, most Indians voted for parties other than the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party Modi led won 282 seats with just 31% of the votes. This is the lowest percentage of votes ever to win an absolute majority in Parliament. The Congress’ performance wasn’t as miserable as its tally of seats, 44, suggests. Its vote share was 19.3%. Third came the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with 4.2% of the vote which didn’t give the party even one seat. If the election had been held under PR and if the voting had been similar, the BJP would have been well short of a majority, with about 170 seats and the Congress would have had a more respectable total of nearly 110 seats. The BSP would have found itself with 23 MPs. These figures show that under PR there is much more chance of every voter’s vote getting him or her representation in Parliament.
Mark Tully in The Hindustan Times

Fifth Column: Advice From The Raj

It’s election season and in less than a month from now we will know who will run the government in the country for the next five years. More importantly, we will know if Prime Minister Modi will have a second term. In her column for The Indian Express, Tavleen Singh points out the hits (like Swacch Bharat and digitisation) and the misses (like demonetisation) of the Modi regime - asserting that Brand Modi also brought with it a bunch of ‘nasty’ Hindutva leaders, who must be cut off if Modi gets a second term.

If India’s impatient, aspirational voters feel that he has not been a good enough prime minister, then he will be voted out in two weeks.This will happen without The Economist’s advice to Indians to throw him out because he is ‘despicable’ and ‘dangerous’. This British newspaper endorsed the Congress party in 2014 as well. But what really annoyed me about the leader it published last week was that the writer seemed ignorant of events that happened in India before Modi. If this were not true, he would never have dared suggest that the Congress party deserved India’s votes as it did not ‘set Indians at each other’s throats’. You do not need to delve deep into history books to discover just how many times the Congress party did this. Google will do the job.  
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express

Across The Aisle: Can We Have Sachhe Din Please?

In this week’s column for The Indian Express, P Chidambaram does a fact check of sorts on some things said by Prime Minister Modi during his election campaigns. Like is the surgical strike really the first time India carried out cross-border action against Pakistan? Has Modi never evoked his ‘chaiwala’ status before these elections? Chidambaram fact-checks all this and more.

BUT this is a Congress analysis so don’t forget to take it with a pinch of salt!

Another favourite subject of Mr Modi is that he caused the first ‘surgical strike’ against Pakistan and that never before had the government of the day authorised the Indian Army to cross the border and enter Pakistan’s territory. I wonder if Mr Modi had not heard (or read) of what the Army did in 1965 and 1971! Did the Indian defence forces win the wars, and liberate Bangladesh in 1971, without entering Pakistan’s territory? Besides, Army generals had pointed out thatMr Modi’s claim was wrong and asserted that ‘this was not the first time and this will not be last’.  
P. Chidambaram in The Indian Express

Gained In Translation: Of Meetings And Separations

The land of Punjab has seen many things - from the greatest warmth that people can show, to the bloodiest of riots in Indian history. It has been a land where people have suffered many separations due to political reasons and otherwise. In this translated column in The Indian Express, Punjabi poet Patar says, it’s time the state got to forget the separations and have one great meeting instead.

Professor Puran Singh, one of the founders of modern Punjabi poetry, rightly described Punjab as a land of great meetings and great separations. Being a frontier province, it has become the melting pot of many races and cultures.It was the sacred rendezvous of great saints and sufis belonging to different places, faiths and castes. They include Baba Farid, a Muslim Sufi whose grandparents migrated to Punjab from Kabul; Baba Namdev, a Beethal bhagat from Maharashtra; Sant Kabir and Sant Ravidas from Varanasi; Krishan Bhagat Jaidev from Bengal; Dhanna Bhagat from Rajasthan and many others. Coming from different regions, religions and races, they sang along with the Sikh gurus. It was a divine orchestra, a great interfaith festival, going on day and night under the skies. It is in Guru Nanak’s cosmic anthem: Gagan mein thaal ravi chand deepak bane/ Taarika mandal janak moti/ Dhoop malianlo pawan chavro kare/ Sagal banrai phoolant jyoti (Upon the cosmic platter of the sky/ the sun and the moon are the lamps/ the stars and their orbs are the pearls/ the wind coming from the sandalwood of the Malyagiri hills is the incense).  
Punjabi poet Patar in The Indian Express

A Calmer You, By Sonal Kalra: Kya Lagta Hai... Kaun Aayega?

The fun part of the election season is the speculation over the final numbers - who will get how many seats? Who will lose seats? And finally who will come to power and by how much? ‘Kya lagta hai?’ is every conversation starter now. In her column for The Hindustan Times, Sonal Kalra tells you how to manoeuvre these conversations irrespective of whether you’re a political know-it-all or a political I-don’t-care.

An example is to give a completely random and meaningless answer to the ‘kya lagta hai kaun aayega’ question. Take a deep breath, look the person in the eye, and say ‘dekho mujhe lagta hai’ – deep breath – ‘aa toh koi bhi sakta hai. But the deeper question is’ – deep breath - ‘Wo aana chahega ya nahi’. At this point, the totally confused and disgusted person in front of you might dare to ask ‘wo matlab kaun?’ Just say ‘koi bhi’. PS: Leave the scene quickly before they get re-enforcement.
Sonal Kalra in The Hindustan Times

How Some Folks Know Who’s Winning The Polls

Speaking of the outcome of the elections, Aakar Patel in his column for The Times Of India talks about those who have a better sense of this outcome than others - the exit pollers. In the column Patel also gives us, the non exit-pollers, ways to predict the results. So if there’s a matka you’re a part of, then you might want to read this column before placing your bet.

The question is: how do we, the unknowing, learn something about the results in this excruciatingly long election season? I have been thinking about this and have the following things that may interest you as points of reference.I named business interests earlier, and I include the stock market. It is inconceivable to me that those who make their living trading on its ups and downs would hesitate to spend Rs 1.5 crore for information that could be pure gold. The top five mutual funds in India manage assets of about Rs 15 lakh crore (which is $225 billion). They have without doubt been looking at what sort of government they should anticipate. The interesting thing here is that the Sensex has been flat all of April, closing at 38,871 on 1 April and closing at 38,963 on 3 May, perhaps meaning it is a very close election.Of course, it is the case that the Sensex itself is just one indicator and a relatively minor one. All sorts of stocks will have gone up and down in this period because of access to information.The second indicator is the messaging from political parties, which will be tweaking their campaign based on what they see as working.The third one is subtle messaging from those who know but cannot publish officially. I mean, for instance, the Twitter accounts of editors, anchors and even pollsters putting out information disguised as punditry. The elections still have three phases to go, but the signs of who has won and who has lost are all around us, if we are alert to them.  
Aakar Patel in The Times Of India

A Month Is A Long Time In An Election, So Don’t Discount The Makings Of A Wave

Is there a Modi wave this election or is there not? Well, most seem to agree that there isn’t, but Swapan Dasgupta in his column for The Times Of India challenges that notion. In an election that is being fought in seven phases and over 2 months, he says, the possibility of a wave forming when the government is suspended is very plausible. Agree with him? Great. If not, read this column to find out his reasons.

The logistical complexity, not to mention sociocultural diversities, makes the Indian general election both a physical and intellectual challenge to parties with national aspirations. A political narrative that will appeal to voters in both Leh and Kanyakumari is never easy. What is, however, remarkable is that over successive elections parties and leaders have broadly succeeded in this endeavour. In hindsight, it is easy to decry Indira Gandhi’s ‘garibi hatao’ mantra that captured the national imagination in 1971. The fact is that it did and it had an appeal far more potent than the ‘Indira hatao’ message that a ramshackle opposition tried to disseminate. In 2014, the BJP victory was geographically more patchy and dependant on the BJP’s pre-existing networks. However, the expectation of a strong leader and the hope of achhe din worked the same magic as the Congress’s 1971 product mix. The alternative — a mix of Modi-phobia and invocations of the ‘idea of India’ — was simply too abstruse.
Swapan Dasgupta in The Times Of India

As Cricket Gets Another Doorway, A Look At The Heap-Of-Sand Paradox

And finally end your Sunday with some cricket gyaan.

There was a time when ODIs were seen as cricket’s saviour as Tests started falling out of favour. Then when ODIs got too long, T20s heralded a new era. With talks of a new T10 league now, will cricket get another doorway? And will this doorway be different for different countries? Suresh Menon weighs in, in his column for The Hindu.

It is impossible to tell just how many T20 enthusiasts walked through the door to swell the ranks of Test cricket enthusiasts. Or even if the traffic moved in the opposite direction.In England, thanks to The Hundred, a five-year television deal worth £1.1 billion will see cricket return on terrestrial TV after two decades. Is The Hundred the answer? The scepticism was summed up by the editor of Wisden who wrote that this is English cricket’s Brexit, “an unnecessary gamble that had overshadowed all else, gone over budget and would end in tears” because it “hung over the English game like the sword of Damocles, suspended only by the conviction of a suited few.”Will a fourth format be a better doorway? Will doorways be different in different countries?  
Suresh Menon in The Hindu

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