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

We sifted through the weekend opinions section, so you wouldn't have to.

8 min read
The best opinion pieces from across newspapers this Sunday, curated just for you.   

This Day, That Year: How The World Saw 15 August, 1947

Happy Independence Day! And what better way to start the day than to revisit how all the major publications of the world reported on India's newfound freedom on this day, back in 1947. Adrija Roychowdhury puts together the headlines from The New York Times, Washington Post and more in this article for The Indian Express.

"Indian Independence was a historic moment for the world. Not only was it won by the Gandhian principle of non-violence, the ceding of its largest and most important colony by Great Britain marked the beginning of the end of colonialism — with the imperial powers of Europe left with neither the stomach nor the resources to hold on to territories following the Second World War. The front pages of newspapers across the world the next day reflected this change — capturing the culmination of India’s fight for freedom, the birth of two nations and the celebrations, as well as the accompanying massacre. Incidentally unlike Punjab’s partition, the pain of Bengal’s division went largely unnoticed."
Adrija Roychowdhury in The Indian Express

A Look Back At The War Of Bharat’s Independence

In this special Independence Day article, Dattatreya Hosabale writes in The Hindustan Times that it is important to tell the stories of unnamed heroes, events, institutions and places that contributed to the freedom struggle in order to highlight the sacrifices of the past that gave us freedom today.

"The Bharatiya resistance against European powers is a unique example in world history. It was a multifaceted effort in which, on the one hand, armed resistance was being undertaken against the foreign invasion, and on the other, the work of social reconstruction was taking place by removing the distortions in society to make it strong. While the kings of the princely states were resisting the British with all their might, the janjati society rose from place to place against the interference of the British in their simple lives and the attack on their values of life. These people who woke up to protect their values were brutally massacred by the British, but they did not back down from the struggle. The nationwide war of Independence of 1857, in which hundreds of thousands of people sacrificed their lives, was a result of this."
Dattatreya Hosabale in The Hindustan Times

I-Day Ruminations: Could Partition Have Been Avoided?

On India's 75th Independence Day, Swaminathan Aiyar, in his weekly column for The Times Of India, tries to answer the biggest existential question facing the country since it won freedom.

"In local elections starting 1909, the British Raj created separate electorates for Muslims — only Muslims could vote in these reserved seats, ensuring them a minimum representation. This was different from today’s reserved seats for Dalits and tribals: all parties field Dalits and tribals in these seats. In the old Muslim electorates, Muslims voted almost entirely for the Muslim League, ignoring supposedly secular Congress. Congress castigated separate electorates as destructive of a national ethos. Actually, this was realpolitik. In a first-past-the-post electoral system, Muslims with one third of the population would win far less than one third of the seats. Separate electorates reduced Congress dominance."
Swaminathan Aiyar in The Times Of India

Spare a Thought For The Economy

This Independence Day, the country's top goal should be to take the Indian GDP to pre-pandemic levels, writes P Chidambaram in The Indian Express.

"A traveller will be yanked back to the early 20th century if s/he drove through some parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha or the Northeastern states and observed the economic conditions and social norms of the people. These are not indictments; they are intended to underline the enormity of the task ahead of us to make India a modern nation. The immediate goal is more modest. The GDP in 2019-20, in constant prices, was Rs 145.69 lakh crore. That was the pre-pandemic level achieved after 73 years of Independence. Of the 73 years, the last 29 years were the most productive in economic terms. The big leap came when the GDP quadrupled between 1991 and 2014. Since 2014, the rate of growth has been tepid and uneven, thanks to self-inflicted wounds, the external environment and the pandemic. Therefore, the immediate goal is to achieve the pre-pandemic GDP level of Rs 145.69 lakh crore."
P Chidambaram in The Indian Express

State of The Union

Improving the economy, improving speed of vaccination, and a serious effort to stop Hindutva hate crimes - these are just some of the things we must resolve to do this Independence Day in order to improve the "state of the Union", writes Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express.

"I wandered into Vijay Chowk and then the streets that surround the seat of Indian political power. There were barricades everywhere. Not just to protect Parliament and the offices of the Prime Minister and important ministries, but to ensure that nobody takes a stroll between Vijay Chowk and India Gate. The Central Vista is being redeveloped with the secrecy of a military project. Other than the barricades, what struck me was the profusion of posters thanking Narendra Modi. They were outside government offices, on bus stands, petrol pumps and on street corners. They thanked Modi for ‘free’ vaccines, free food grain and other freebies. Some had Yogi Adityanath lurking behind Modi’s shoulder. These thanked Yogi for creating ‘400,000 government jobs’. This blitzkrieg of self-promotion is on a scale I have never seen before. So, I found myself asking why and concluded that it was to erase from public memory the grave mistakes made by Modi and Yogi in the handling of Covid’s second wave. It has been a bad year for both, but in Modi’s case the worst of the seven years that he has been Prime Minister."
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express

Lights, Camera, Inaction: Deepika Isn’t Bawri To Demand Equal Pay

It's 2021 and one of India's top female actors has had to walk out of a movie because she wouldn't be paid as much as her male counterpart. It really shouldn't need explaining why this is beyond preposterous, but if you're still unconvinced, here's Shobhaa De telling you why in her article for The Times Of India.

"This is how the dosa crumbles, and not just in Bollywood. A 2017 study showed that male actors in Hollywood on an average get a paycheck of $57.4 million, while the women have to settle for $21.8 million — that’s a hefty 38% less. September 18 was declared ‘Equal Pay For Equal Work Day’ this year, and prominent Hollywood stars like Salma Hayek, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson and a stray guy, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), spoke up on the occasion. I didn’t hear any murmurs from our shores unfortunately. The argument has always been the same: the business of movies is driven by men, and budgets are determined by the lead actor’s fees. So it is in our film industry, too. Remember, according to market goss, Kareena Kapoor’s good friend Karan Johar had dropped her from Kal Ho Naa Ho for demanding the same fee as Shah Rukh Khan. More recently, Kareena was said to have been put on hold for asking for Rs 12 crore to play Sita in Aloukik Desai’s Ramayana. Unit members are said to have sniggered, “We can always get another, much younger actress to play Sita for a fraction of that amount.”
Shobhaa De in The Times Of India

Our Olympic Champions Deserve All The Credit

In his piece for The Hindustan Times, Karan Thapar says that while those at the highest levels of power congratulated Indian athletes for their Olympic glory, they did it in a way that suggested that they wanted the attention on themselves.

"I remember it as clearly as if it happened yesterday. But it was nearly 50 years ago. The curtain had come down on the last performance of Peter Shaffer’s, The Royal Hunt of the Sun. I played the part of Atahualpa, the defeated Inca King. For the Stowe school audience, the novelty of a brown Indian acting as a Red Indian was the cause of much ribaldry. My mates gathered backstage were attracted, no doubt, by the feathers in my hair. But when photographs were taken, they crowded me out. That’s when Bob Drayson, the headmaster, spoke out. “Surely the young man you’ve come to congratulate should be at the centre?” he asked. “You’re grabbing the limelight instead!”
Karan Thapar in The Indian Express

Why The Govt Shouldn’t Decide What You Pay For An Air Ticket

Wondering why airline ticket prices are so high and that too across the board? Well, its not the rising price of fuel. Pranay Kotasthane explains in his piece for The Times Of India.

"Airline ticket prices in normal circumstances are determined by demand and supply considerations. The price broadly reflects the scarcity of the seat you occupy. That’s why you would have encountered significantly higher prices closer to the travel date when fewer seats are available. This pricing situation changed in the wake of the first wave of Covid when the Union government started intervening in both the pricing and capacity of airlines. Specifically, the government put three restrictions in place. One, it puts a cap on the total capacity that airlines can deploy. Note, this didn’t mean a restriction on the number of passengers in a flight but a restriction in terms of the total number of flights that an airline can operate. Initially, in May 2020, airlines were allowed to operate only up to 33% of their total pre-pandemic flights. This restriction stands at 72.5% as of today. The stated intent of this capacity restriction was to discourage discretionary travel. Two, the Ministry of Civil Aviation imposed a maximum and minimum ceiling on the ticket price depending on sector and travel time. This was apparently done to protect consumer interest so that airlines don’t overcharge to compensate for capacity restrictions."
Pranay Kotasthane in The Times Of India

Our Dreams Of a Democratic Afghanistan Get Shattered

A country in turmoil watches in horror as their social and political fabric is set to change once again - and this time there may be no going back. In this special article for The Hindustan Times, Baitullah Hameedi, a teacher at Afghanistan's Kabul University, recounts acts of courage and defiance that show why Afghanis have always stood for a democratic Afghanistan.

"In 2004, when the first free presidential election took place in Afghanistan, I was a seventh-grade student. For my country, that election was the second most important step after enacting a new inclusive constitution to build a democratic country. Although I barely knew anything about voting rights or participatory democracy, I still felt proud and powerful. I thought my opinion and my vote mattered. Later, I studied at Kabul University, where I learned about democracy, the right to vote and freedom of speech. I voted in 2014 and 2019 amid the risk of being attacked by the Taliban. Back then, for me, as a media student, voting was not the only thing to do. I felt it was my responsibility to openly talk about its importance with pride. Posting on social media was another way to express myself and convince others to participate in democracy for future generations."
Baitullah Hameedi in The Hindustan Times

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