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

We sifted through the papers and curated the best weekend opinion reads so you won't have to.

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

Inside Track: From 2nd to 26th

In her weekly dose of political tidbits from across the country, Coomi Kapoor talks about Tamil Nadu's new finance minister Palanivel Thiagarajan and his relegation in the power structure, MEA Jaishankar's decision to not meet US Vice President Kamala Harris, the BJP's dilemma in selecting a face for the party in Bengal, and Rahul Gandhi's much-talked-about ‘unfollowing’ spree. Here are excerpts from her column in The Indian Express:

“He ruffled feathers in the establishment recently by describing celebrity yoga guru Jaggi Vasudev as a ‘publicity hound’ and compounded it by later quoting an audit report suggesting that the guru’s foundation had usurped forest land. Chief Minister M K Stalin’s father, the late M Karunanidhi, had good ties with Jaggi, even though the DMK has atheist roots. While DMK sources insist that PTR and Stalin enjoy an amicable relationship and PTR has been given a free hand, for some reason, PTR has been relegated to 26th place in official precedence in the Cabinet, although conventionally, finance ministers rank Number 2 in the hierarchy. PTR recently got into a spat with Goa Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho. At the GST Council meeting, he tried to cut Godhino’s speech short arguing that a small state like Goa should not get the same weightage and time as Tamil Nadu. He also referred to Godhino as an ‘empty vessel’.”
Coomi Kapoor in The Indian Express

Bitcoin & NFTs: Opportunities or Ponzi Schemes?

Been forcing yourself to laugh at all those bitcoin memes? Wondering if you should partake? In his weekly column for The Times of India, Swaminathan Aiyar tells you why it may be early to ride on the bitcoin bandwagon just yet because, well, “objects are worth what people will pay for them.”

“A painting by Leonardo da Vinci recently sold for a record $450 million despite fears of it being a fake. Why is an exact copy of that painting worthless despite having identical aesthetic value? Because rich people pay for exclusivity – ownership of the original – and exclusivity/scarcity creates value for collectors. Bitcoin, launched in 2009 by ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ a pseudonym for a person or persons unknown, is a digital currency or cryptocurrency issued privately, not by a central bank like the Reserve Bank of India. Thousands of other cryptocurrencies are being created all the time, such as Ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano and Polkadot. In theory these can be used for payments instead of cash, credit cards or cheques, and could save sums made by intermediaries like banks. In practice cryptocurrency prices vary so hugely from day to day that they represent gambles, not currency. In theory you can buy and sell in cryptocurrencies, but just ask your servant or grocer, and they will refuse such payment. Major Bitcoin transactions are done by drug dealers and money launderers because of the encrypted anonymity. This is one reason cryptocurrencies are banned or limited by many countries.”
Swaminathan Aiyar in The Times Of India

Why There Is No Reason To Believe That a ‘Child Wave’ Is Coming

After the elderly and the youth, will the coronavirus come for children in the possible third wave of the pandemic in India? In this article for The Times of India, Chandrakant Lahariya cites epidemiological evidence to suggest why that may not be the case.

“There is no evidence from any part of the world that a third or any subsequent wave will affect children disproportionately. While the mutations and resulting new strains of SARS-CoV2 have shown higher transmissibility, this has not altered the potential to cause severe disease in any age group. These facts have been stated by nearly every expert who understands COVID-19 disease epidemiology as well as by the professional association of pediatricians in India.”
Chandrakant Lahariya in The Times Of India

No More Lies, Please

In her column for The Indian Express, Tavleen Singh questions Home Minister Amit Shah's recent comments, lauding the Modi government for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis. She asks if this ‘self-hailing’ can stop when stories of a healthcare nightmare continue to unfold across the country.

“The latest whopper came from his closest confidant Amit Shah. When there is a domestic emergency, accountability lies with the Home Minister. Yet, he was not seen or heard during the worst days of Covid’s catastrophic second wave. He surfaced last week to declare that we ‘controlled the second wave in a very short time’ and that India has ‘set a record in the world for fastest vaccination’. Does he know that out of 100 Indians only 15 are vaccinated, compared to 88 in the United States and 96 in the United Kingdom? The whole world saw that our public health services crumbled under the fury of the second wave and that our vaccine policy has been such a disaster that the Supreme Court has described it as ‘arbitrary’ and ‘irrational’. The Delhi High Court went further and said, ‘Some people need to be charged with manslaughter’.”
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express

When the Indian Judiciary Stands Up

In holding the government accountable for its (mis)handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the courts of India have played a major role. Mark Tully explains how in his article for Hindustan Times:

“In one case, Justice DY Chandrachud was so annoyed that he told the government to ‘please wake up, smell the coffee, and see what’s happening across the country’. He was part of a three-judge bench enquiring into the supply of essential medicines, vaccines, and medical oxygen for COVID-19 patients. The court had felt so strongly about this issue that it had raised the matter suo moto. The judges have described the government’s policy for vaccine purchase and distribution as ‘arbitrary and irrational’, and asked the Centre to undertake a fresh review of policy covering all the issues raised in court. These include the purchase and distribution of vaccines, the percentage of rural and urban populations vaccinated, the system of registration for vaccinations, and the different prices for them.”
Mark Tully in The Hindustan Times

Address Questions On COVID-19 Vaccine Policy

In his article for Hindustan Times, Karan Thapar says that it is high time ministers address questions about the efficacy of India's vaccine policy, which have been raised by many.

“Covaxin was given emergency-use clearance without awaiting its full trial 3 results. This means its efficacy had not been established. In fact, those trial 3 results are still not available. All we’ve been given is two sets of interim results. No doubt they’re promising, but what about the full results? Now, Balram Bhargava, head of the Indian Council of Medical Research, claimed efficacy could be gleaned from animal trials and phase 1 and phase 2 trials. Gagandeep Kang, our foremost vaccine scientist and a member of Britain’s prestigious royal society, disagreed. Animal trials, she said, may be used in America to clear drugs but only when you can properly mimic the human disease in animals. That hasn’t happened for COVID-19. As regards Covaxin’s phase 1 and 2 trials, they only involved 800 participants, which is far too small for reliable efficacy data.”
Karan Thapar in Hindustan Times

Sports, Press Meetings: Why It Often Is ‘Love All’

Much has been said about Naomi Osaka's reluctance to address the media at this year's French Open, given how the process affects her mental health. In this article for The Indian Express, Sandeep Dwivedi talks about his experiences of press conferences with various sports stars (mostly cricketers) over the years, and how each ‘PC’ eventually had its own character.

“On most days, pressers are chaotic affairs. It’s where a group of professional sceptics aka reporters, working on impossible deadlines, take turns to throw questions at the day’s winner, or the loser, to understand their acts and emotions. Meanwhile, the athlete, drained after the time on field, weighs his or her words. As told by their agents, they try to be engaging and even funny while parroting rehearsed lines. It’s a weird speed date with both sides making snap judgments. Mistakes, miscommunication and misunderstanding can happen, but that’s true for any human interaction. There are bullies on both sides, and an early end to the presser is just one stupid question, or an obnoxious answer, away.”
Sandeep Dwivedi in The Indian Express

There’s a Case For Renaming Mt Everest, But Is It Ours To Rename?

The Everest by any other name would be just as tall. But who gets to give it its name? Read Sandip Roy's piece in The Times of India to find out:

“There have been intermittent demands to name the peak after the mathematician who actually measured it. This year on Everest Day (29 May), the principal of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute Group Captain Jai Kishan said , ‘Why should not the Indian mountaineering fraternity call the peak Mount Sikdar seven decades after British rule came to an end?’ Sikdar makes for an appealing choice. He was fined for protesting the exploitation of survey department workers in 1843. His name was left out of the edition of the Survey Manual that came out after his death though the mathematical chapters were written by him and Everest called him ‘his right arm’. Whether or not he really ran into his boss’s office shouting ‘Sir, I have discovered the highest mountain in the world’, he makes for a far more appealing candidate than the crotchety Everest who once complained about being ‘bled to fainting’ by a thousand leeches for his various maladies according to Stephen Alter. Alter writes that while the Great Arc, the ambitious project that measured the Himalaya and mapped the topography of the Indian subcontinent, contributed immensely to our understanding of geography, we should not romanticise it. It was ultimately a colonial enterprise to map the Raj’s dominions often using forced labour.
Sandip Roy in The Times Of India

On the Eastern And Western Frontiers

Why are political developments in Myanmar and Afghanistan crucial for India? Read Avinash Paliwal's article in Hindustan Times to find out:

“Caught off-guard with a deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, weak economic performance, domestic political polarisation, and China’s territorial ingress in Ladakh, India faces intense stress. In this context, Myanmar and Afghanistan are neither dominating headlines nor, perhaps, featuring prominently on New Delhi’s foreign policy agenda. But India risks losing strategic space to China and Pakistan in these countries while facing a real prospect of spillover of violence into its own territory.”
Avinash Paliwal in Hindustan Times

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