We Had Wings, Learned to Fly
Looking back at a time when the country saw a massive revival, P Chidambaram reflects about the Foreign Trade Policy that he had drafted as the commerce minister in 1991. It spoke about matching steps in fiscal and industrial policy, foreign investment, de-canalisation of imports, abolition of most import licenses and convertibility of the rupee on the trade account, that successfully pulled India out of a grave economic crisis, he elaborated in The Indian Express.
"The two-and-a-half-person strong reformist political brigade faced fierce opposition in Parliament. None was more vocal in his criticism than Chandra Shekhar. In order to blunt the assault, I took the file in which he, as prime minister, had approved the proposals of the commerce ministry to liberalise trade policy, but which had remained unimplemented. He glanced at the notings and dismissed them as mere ‘proposals’ that were never meant to be implemented!"P Chidambaram in The Indian Express
Governance Needed Urgently
It is intriguing that recent polls give Narendra Modi higher approval ratings than any other leader in the world, but the average Indian doesn't trust him anymore, writes Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express. The past year of the coronavirus pandemic has pushed many to lose their jobs, incur massive losses in businesses and suffer due to the lack of access to healthcare because the government didn't extend any help, Singh says.
"Everyone I talked to last week said that they wanted to get vaccinated as soon as possible and some asked if I could help. The Prime Minister in his most recent ‘Mann ki Baat’ urged people to get vaccinated as if this was the simplest thing to do. It appears that in the Himalayan heights he now inhabits nobody has told him that many centres in Mumbai ran out of vaccines last week and had to close. And in Chhindwara, the rage of those who did not manage to get vaccinated was so great that they started throwing furniture around in the centre. We have the infrastructure to vaccinate 10 million a day. But, where are the vaccines?"Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express
Indians Not Allowed. How Come? Global Travel Bans on Indians Are Illogical, and May Be Reflective Of Prejudice
Chetan Bhagat calls the attention to the move by the United States of America, Canada, Europe and many Asian countries to ban the entry of Indians owing to the rise in coronavirus cases in the country. In a column in The Times of India, he slams this move as 'draconian, unfair, and potentially racist' that is causing people hardship, hurting India’s global image, and is damaging the country's economy and FDI situation.
"We Indians still shouldn’t attribute this to pure racism? What should we attribute it to then? Pure stupidity? The reality is it is easy to be prejudiced against developing countries with low per-capita incomes such as India. Also, the sad truth is these prejudices, when turned into directives, don’t really go away that easily. India’s contribution to developed world GDP is low, and in current times, the developed world can function quite well keeping Indians out, whether for rational reasons or not. Hence, it is up to India to make a noise against unfair treatment and bring back some normalcy and equality. This is not a brown-people virus."Chetan Bhagat in The Times of India
The Show Must Go on… on Screen and off It Too
Actor Richa Chadda draws attention to the number of technical staff and actors who are struggling, as shootings have stopped completely for a year. In a column in The Indian Express, she demands the formation of a collective that will ensure regular and fair payments to the staff members so that they aren't exploited during a crisis like the pandemic.
"Everything is shut and it’s quite demoralising at the moment. If you go to Versova or Lokhandwala, the usual hubs for newcomers, they are empty. Many have left the city to avoid paying exorbitant rents. Even many successful people have given up their residences in posh addresses and moved to Madh Island, where rent is a bit cheaper. Everyone is trying to adjust and adapt. I hope work picks up after this for everyone."Richa Chadda in The Indian Express
The myth — shared by Englishmen, Australians and Indians alike — that the Kiwis were mere pushovers when it came to Test cricket was decisively shattered by a deadly spell of swing bowling by Richard Hadlee in 1977-78 points out Ramachandra Guha in a column in The Telegraph.
"No individual did more to make cricketers (and fans) of other countries treat Kiwis with respect than Richard Hadlee. He had as his indispensable ally his younger contemporary, Martin Crowe, who was, in his day, the best batsman in world cricket, just as Hadlee had been the best bowler. Crowe was also an outstanding captain, his tactical skills showcased in the 1992 World Cup, when he experimented by having his bowling attack opened by a spinner."Ramachandra Guha in The Telegraph
Taking a Pew
"If you crossed a corporate brochure with the jargon of the Minority Report, this passage would be their lovechild. It doesn’t, however, explain the puzzling vagueness of some of the survey’s questions." Mukul Kesavan criticises the Pew Research Center’s survey, ‘Religion in India.’ Several questions that overlooked the persecution faced by religious and social minorities, especially Muslims, and supported the idea of segregated co-existence, were sharply criticised, in his column in The Telegraph.
"The answers to Pew’s questions about Indian attitudes towards neighbours from other religious communities suggest that Indians of all faith communities would rather live in communal ghettoes than diverse neighbourhoods. In a society where there is a power differential between an economically depressed religious minority and a hegemonic and relatively more prosperous majority, the desire of both to live in segregated neighbourhoods is not the same phenomenon. One might be a preference shaped by discrimination, insecurity and fear and the other might be a form of ethnic assertion powered by superiority and contempt. Questions like this flatten that asymmetry and homogenize the answers."Mukul Kesavan in The Telegraph
Menace of Dowry That Is Ingrained In Indian 'Tradition'
No man in the world is worth buying, says Anand Neelakantan in his column in The New Indian Express. He critiques Indians for being hypocrites, by worshipping women while the country continues to have the dubious distinction of being the 'rape capital of the world'. The obnoxious system of dowry has ruined lives and led to female foeticide and suicides, he elaborates. Making it worse, even educational qualification of the man nor the woman is a guarantee against dowry harassment.
"If a man can value you only by the car, cash, house or gold your father can gift him, that man is not looking for a partner but a cash cow. And he will treat you like a cow — another of female gender that is elevated to the status of goddess. There is nothing wrong with remaining single if you can’t find a man who values you, or being divorced, than being a slave to such a greedy swine. It is time to tell the ‘Sanskari’ uncles and aunts to stop worshipping women as goddesses. It would be a great step forward if our rotten society starts treating women as humans."Anand Neelakantan in The New Indian Express
Lee Kwan Yew Is the Tallest Chinese Leader
'Lessons from Singapore's Lee Kwan Yew helped China in its economic miracle, but Chinese Premier Xi Jinping is now reversing gear, bringing in Maoist touches. Will this blunt China’s rise?, asks S A Aiyar, in The Times of India. The Chinese Communist Party is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and is confident of making China the superpower of the 21st century, he points out.
"Lee saw that high productivity was the key to prosperity and needed foreign investment and trade. These were facilitated by low taxes and incentives for select industries. Huge public sector companies provided world class infrastructure — ports, water, electricity, education — but the production of goods was left to the private sector. Foreign investment was emphasised to access the best technology, management, and marketing knowledge. Lee opted for a low-key foreign policy posture, something Deng also followed."S A Aiyar in The Times of India
Inside Track: Pawarful Candidate
Sharad Pawar’s meetings with Prashant Kishor and the conference of disparate anti-BJP politicians and civil society activists under the umbrella of the 'Rashtra Manch' had separate but important agendas, writes Coomi Kapoor in The Indian Express. Mehbooba Mufti's political statement that made it clear she did not accept the division of Jammu and Kashmir, former Prime Minister PV Narasimha's meeting with LK Advani before the Babri Masjid demolition and the protracted delay in Narendra Modi announcing a Cabinet expansion-cum reshuffle, also find mention in the column.
"Pawar’s secret one-on-one meetings with Kishor are believed to have discussed fielding a strong presidential candidate in 2022, Pawar being the obvious choice. The wily 80-year-old politician and his daughter Supriya Sule have over the years built up an excellent rapport with politicians across the political divide. A united opposition could possibly pose a threat to the ruling party since the BJP’s presidential vote tally has fallen after losing several state Assembly elections. Much will depend on how Uttar Pradesh votes in the coming Assembly polls, otherwise it is all wishful thinking."Coomi Kapoor in The Indian Express
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