Sunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just For You
We sifted through the papers and found the best opinion reads, so you won't have to.
Inside Track: Two Reasons Why BJP Govt Could Be Delaying Framing Rules Under CAA
Why is the government being tardy about framing the CAA rules? Why does Nitish Kumar miss Arun Jaitley? Why do Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi now have to stand in a queue at an airport? Was Amit Shah really out of action in Bihar? And where's Republican-of-Indian-origin Shalabh Kumar who was once President Trump's biggest supporter? Learn the answers to all this and more in Coomi Kapoor's piece for The Indian Express.
Surprisingly, the government has yet to frame rules under the (CItizenship Amendment) Act, although these have to be issued within six months or else an extension has to be sought. In August, the government applied for a three-month extension, but the rules are yet to be declared. There are two explanations for the tardiness in implementing what the ruling party proudly proclaims as a landmark legislation. The BJP’s political opponents fear that the government wants to bring out the rules during the West Bengal election campaign to polarise the atmosphere. Another reason for dragging feet on a follow-up could be concerns over antagonising friendly neighbour Bangladesh President Sheikh Hasina. She has voiced her disapproval of the controversial law. In fact, three Bangladesh ministers had cancelled official visits to India subsequent to the passage of the law. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Bangladesh on its 50th anniversary in March next year and would not want to sour the atmosphere before his trip.Coomi Kapoor in The Indian Express
India’s New Template For The Neighbourhood
In this week's column for The Hindustan Times, Chanakya says that in order to maintain control over South Asia and its neighbours, India must maintain domestic stability, project external power and retain its regional influence, in spite of China's efforts to undermine its interests in the region.
In this backdrop, what are the elements India should consider while evolving its neighbourhood policy? Chanakya proposes a five point template. The first is for a country in a category of its own — Pakistan. The key policy debate in India on its most difficult neighbour has broadly revolved around whether to engage with the civilian government and encourage “constituencies of peace” within Pakistan or whether to disengage since real power, in any case, rested with the Pakistan army, which, in turn, drew its power from sustained conflict with India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was happy to try the first approach, as reflected in both his invitation to Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in in 2014, and then his surprise visit to Sharif in Lahore. But Pathankot, Uri, Pulwama, and over the past year, Pakistan’s belligerence on Kashmir internationally has ensured that India is now firmly on the second track where it sees little benefit from engagement. The fact that a hardline approach against Pakistan is beneficial politically at home also tilts the balance.Chanakya in The Hindustan Times
Obama’s Intriguing Silence On Pakistan
Speaking of Pakistan, Karan Thapar, in his Hindustan Times column, delves into how former US President Barack Obama's much-talked-about memoir talks very little about the country. This, especially in the context the US operation in Pakistan, that eliminated dreaded terrorist Osama Bin-Laden.
This is how Obama recounts the moment he learnt bin Laden was dead: “With a suddenness I didn’t expect, we heard McRaven’s and Leon’s voices, almost simultaneously, utter the words we’d been waiting to hear … ‘Geronimo ID’d … Geronimo EKIA’. Enemy killed in action … Inside the conference room, there were audible gasps … ‘We got him.’ I said softly.” Several hours later, Obama told his wife Michelle. This time he captures both the charm of the moment and its ordinariness. “I had just finished shaving and putting on a suit and tie when she walked through the door. ‘So?’ she said. I gave a thumbs-up and she smiled, pulling me into a hug. ‘That’s amazing babe,’ she said. ‘Really. How do you feel?’ ‘Right now, just relieved’, I said. ‘But check back with me in a couple of hours.’” However, the one question Obama doesn’t answer — or even address — is about Pakistan’s role. Was Pakistan hiding bin Laden and, therefore, complicit? Or unaware of his presence and, therefore, incompetent? I’m surprised by his silence. He knows it’s an obvious question and one many expect him to answer. As the United States president at the time, he must know.Karan Thapar in The Hindustan Times
Dangerous Dog Whistles
Is it correct for a Home Minister to call a group of Kashmiri political parties, a "gang"? And where has present-day politics in Kashmir taken the nationalist vs anti-national debate? Tavleen Singh delves into these questions in her piece for The Indian Express.
We heard two political dog whistles last week. Both ugly and both dangerous but the one from the Home Minister more so, because he has the capacity to do more harm than the former Chief Minister of the former state of Jammu & Kashmir. The first murmurings of political activity in Kashmir since the revocation of Article 370 have just begun with district-level elections. And, it is possible that this is what provoked the dog whistles. The first came from Amit Shah who took to Twitter to declare that the ‘Gupkar Gang’ was trying to invite foreign powers to interfere in the Valley’s politics. What he said was wrong on several levels. It was wrong for the Home Minister to describe a coalition of Kashmiri political parties as a ‘gang’. It was wrong for him to diminish the high office he holds by speaking in the language of a streetfighter. And, it was wrong for him to indicate to his Hindutva base that in the view of the Government of India these Kashmiri political parties were all acting against the interests of India, thereby ‘anti-national’.Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express
The Disquiet About Kejriwal’s Diwali Puja Is Misplaced
A lot has been said about Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's massive Diwali Puja, with many asking if the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader is now wearing soft Hindutva on his sleeves. Responding to these allegations, the AAP's Akshay Marathe, writes in The Hindustan Times, that good governance and not his Hindu identity is Kejriwal's trump card. The trump card that won him Delhi three times.
The disquiet about Kejriwal performing the puja comes from a misplaced understanding of what it means to be secular. Suhas Palshikar tweeted his scholarly articulation of this phenomenon recently: “Seculars have done enough harm by confusing secularism with an anti-religion intellectual position. The intellectual terrain of discussion then shifts away from core issues of coexistence and sublimation of religiosity.” This tendency to conflate the religiosity of politicians with religious supremacy led a senior TV editor to compare Kejriwal with Modi. When I pointed out to her that peaceful expression of religious beliefs is not comparable with bigotry, it was not well received. This behaviour is odd for a country that is so overwhelmingly religious. The need to fight the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s politics of religious supremacy should not lead us to look askance at legitimate expressions of Hinduism itself. It is this kind of stance that alienates the ordinary religious Indian from the liberal elite.Akshay Marathe in The Hindustan Times
Reading Between The Lines As Language Is Co-Opted
In this fascinating piece on linguistics and how they work, Alaka M Basu explains how with languages becoming more "opaque", one understands certain terms, not by their dictionary meaning, but by association. Check out the piece in The Indian Express.
"...anyone with some knowledge of the US knows, for example, that being ‘pro-life’ is not about being against war. The term is instead a shorthand expression used by conservatives to describe their opposition to a woman’s right to abortion. And ‘pro-choice’ is the self-description of those who believe that a woman has the right to decide on her own reproductive trajectory. But what do we do now that such associative meanings are no longer clear-cut either? What do we do when an allegiance to ‘democratic principles’ is affirmed by those who believe that democracy means bowing to the will of the majority as well as by those who believe that democracy entails protecting the rights of the minorities? All that we can say is that the word ‘democracy’ obviously has some inherent positive connotation if such opposite positions want to claim its banner."Alaka M Basu in The Indian Express
Man and Superman
If you've grown up Bengali or in Bengal, you'd know that friendships, for a certain generation, were decided by which camp you belong to- Team Uttam or Team Soumitra. As the death of the legend, Soumitra Chatterjee, leaves a huge void in our hearts, here's a look at the life and times of the OG Feluda, by Upala Sen, for The Telegraph.
Only, with one star long gone, and the second obviously poised for the skies, the contest seemed to have evaporated. What remained was a sense of difference. Uttam Kumar had mostly played the hero. Soumitra, come to think of it, had played the Other more than once. Uttam Kumar was swagger and smile and charm. Soumitra’s sabre-sharp mind shone through his works. One embodied romance. The other, reality. And then came the final news flash --- The End. Most of the tributes to Soumitra contained a reference to Uttam Kumar. And so the camps endure --- the Uttam Kumar camp and the Soumitra camp --- more distinctive than rival, and with the added provision of dual membership.Upala Sen in The Telegraph
Oh, Go Speak To Your Fat Books
"Don't know that? Read a book, maybe?"
Well, in his piece for The Telegraph, Sankarshan Thakur tells you why no one likes people who speak like that!
But you never allowed me things. Your books. And the things that come with having books, all those things. You told me books are not for you. And now you blame me for not having read. And you fling things on me that you tell me are good things but I have no way of knowing. Your volumes and your verses, your phrases and your platitudes, your language and your literature, your definitions and deductions, your concepts and criticisms. Your ideas. Your ideologies. Your cleaving of virtue from vice. Your meditations on right and righteous things. Your inventories of wrong and wrongdoing. Your elaborate philosophies, your rousing perorations. What do I know of them? What do I understand? Big words. And the bigger stuff they might contain. I don’t understand them. Maybe they made sense to you, they don’t make sense to me. Kaala akshar bhains baraabar. There, I flung a buffalo at you, did my bit.Sankarshan Thakur in The Telegraph
Fiction As Fact
In this piece for The Telegraph, Gopalkrishna Gandhi predicts five futuristic literary titles that he thinks will be published by 2025- all of them a fallout of the pandemic and the associated fear. Take a look at his list, and let us know your additions in the comments section below.
The fourth nugget of fiction is called The Waft. Written originally in Bangla, it has been translated into English by the writer’s divorced wife, an Irishwoman living by herself in Dublin. The author is a forty-five-year-old flautist, trained in Santiniketan’s Sangit Bhavana, but unemployed and un-employable. He is a genius with the flute, a waif without it. He has been teaching his music to students in Calcutta. But they are few and very often unable to pay him anything more than his bus fare. Ever since the pandemic, he is unable to go to them. His meagre earning has stopped. He manages to come to his village in Khatra, the most beautiful part of West Bengal’s stunning district of Bankura. Sitting day after day in his childless aunt’s home, fed by her, he stares at the mind-boggling sky in all its hues, plays on his flute and composes lyrics to ragas he loves. When she calls him Kalidas, he simply smiles. His lyrics are about the seasons. He plays, writes, plays, writes. Playing the Megha Malhar, gliding from komal nishad to pancham, he writes, “The cloud... wafts... with the panic of a veil... flying after the girl who has dropped it, running...” He writes about all the six seasons and, one evening, after playing Hamir centred around shuddha dhaivat with a downward glide from nishad, writes about a seventh season... Akaala... the ‘unseasonal...’ This Akaala can come now any time anywhere... unwanted but undeflectable... wafting...Gopalkrishna Gandhi in The Telegraph
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