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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.

Updated
India
6 min read
The Quint’s curation of the best weekend opinion reads in the newspaper today. Settle back with a cup of tea and enjoy. 
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The Ghost Takes Form and Shape

In his column for The Indian Express, P Chidambaram writes about the ability of Indian citizens to stay calm and indifferent in the face of difficult circumstances as he reflects on how the 'voluntary' resignations of several cabinet ministers were not linked to the 'administrative failures' of their respective ministries.

"Finally, the Minister of Labour & Employment has resigned. The Minister of Health has resigned. The Minister of Education has resigned. And more. None of the ministers has resigned owning responsibility. No one has linked the ‘voluntary’ resignations to the oppressive burdens their administration placed on the people during 2020 and 2021."
P Chidamabaram in The Indian Express

Chidambaram further elaborates on the French investigation into the Rafale Aircarft deal and the failure of institutions in India, namely: the media, the Supreme Court, Parliament and the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG). "I am certain, and sad, that Parliament will remain defensive and defiant. I am also certain the C&AG will down its shutters and not re-open its 141-page report, of which 126 pages made no sense to a person of average intelligence," he says.

Chronicle Of An Ailing 84-Year-Old Man’s Death In Custody Foretold

As the law saw it, Swamy’s case was a case study of ‘He had it coming’, writes Indrajit Hazra in The Times of India on the death of Father Stan Swamy, a human rights activist who was booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly being one of the key conspirators in the Bhima Koregaon violence on 1 January 2018.

That is the only way one can come to terms with Swamy's bail on medical grounds being rejected on 23 October 2020, Hazra says.

Where would the accused terrorist accomplice disappear while the state of Maharashtra continued to be in lockdown, no one quite knows. But once the word ‘Maoist’ percolates down to one’s name, which element of the mighty Indian state machinery would like to take any risks — even if Swamy was suffering from Parkinson’s disease (for which he had asked the NIA for a straw to help him sip fluids with, and which the NIA provided after 50 days probably after strip-searching the straw thoroughly)?
Indrajit Hazra in The Times of India

He further adds that for those who will remember what happened to Stan Swamy, it will be a shame and a blot for the Republic of India and those who swear by its virtues.

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Reminiscing About The India I grew Up In

I feel I live in a country that is very different to the one I grew up in, writes Karan Thapar in his column for the Hindustan Times as he recollects his days at the Doon School to draw a contrast between the India he grew up in and that of today.

"In my youth, there was no “love jihad”, although we often whistled and winked at pretty girls. There were no cow lynchings. We knew that the cow was holy, but that didn’t stop us from calling it a beast. Ten million East Pakistani refugees sought sanctuary in our country. We didn’t call them termites. Instead, the government imposed a five paisa stamp as tax on every postal article to pay for their stay. Tell me, doesn’t the past feel like a foreign country?"
Karan Thapar in the Hindustan Times
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A Question For The Indian Middle Class: Why So Silent?

Senior journalist Sagarika Ghose in a column in The Times of India draws attention to the silence of India’s urban middle class on issues like record hike in fuel prices, unemployment and shortages of health services in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and the death of Father Stan Swamy after he was repeatedly denied bail.

"The vast majority of India’s urban middle class appears to have abandoned the opportunities of citizenship. They are willing to sacrifice liberty, even dignity, for some mercy from the mai-baap sarkar. Society is deeply polarised and mutual trust has broken down, making peaceful citizen’s solidarity next to impossible."
Sagarika Ghose in The Times of India

Ghose compares India's middle class today with that in the mid-1970s when it hailed the Emergency. Even in the face of grave provocation like loss of lives and livelihoods, there is no peaceful, civic rallying by citizens as there was during the India Against Corruption days in 2010-11 or the Nirbhaya protest in 2012, she says.

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Modi’s Most Important Minister

Our new Health Minister must begin by first doing what his predecessor never did, which is to acknowledge the enormity of the problem, writes Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express. Then he must take stern action against chief ministers who continue to use denial as a shield. Denial is not an option because we need hundreds of thousands of vaccination centres to be built from scratch, Singh says.

"I had never heard of Mansukh Mandaviya and so did some research and discovered that he comes from Gujarat and used to be a BJP student leader. He is not a man who has worked in public healthcare so may I humbly suggest that he begin by inspecting Primary Health Centres in our northern states to see for himself the enormity of the task he faces. Health is a state subject in ordinary times, but these are not ordinary times."
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express
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Lessons In Our Closets, All Stacked Up

"Fifteen months ago, I would have found it alarming, this opting for practical, gender neutral dressing: or that my sensibilities mirror those of a distinctly unfashionable, middle-aged man," writes Leher Kala in The Indian Express as she reflects on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on style and clothing.

"This past year has offered too few occasions to get dressed up, leading to all sorts of unsettling discoveries. One, that we own too much stuff. Two, we need very little. Three, after all those months in sweatpants, why have a large wardrobe when you can wear a few items repeatedly — the ones you really like? The uniform approach to style has had a following since innovators like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg famously displayed their contempt for variety by sporting the same clothes every day."
Leher Kala in The Indian Express
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Second Class Bogie

"The Pew survey aggregated answers to a set of questions put to weighted and counted individuals from India’s major religious communities. I can imagine a historian some decades from now reading these answers, expressed in percentages, as an authoritative snapshot of desi opinion." Mukul Kesavan in his column in The Telegraph, sharply criticises the Pew Research Center’s survey, ‘Religion in India.’

"Pew’s strangest result is the response of Muslims to a question about religious discrimination. Asked whether there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims in India, a large majority of the Muslim respondents answered that they didn’t believe that was the case. To juxtapose Ali’s account of life as a Muslim in Narendra Modi’s India with Pew’s bland percentages is to look upon two incompatible realities."
Mukul Kesavan in The Telegraph
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Tightrope Walk For India in Afghanistan

N Sathiya Moorthy in The New Indian Express writes about America's exit from Afghanistan and India's geo-political and geo-strategic concerns around the move. To the average Indian mind, the Taliban is linked to the Christmas eve hijack of IC 814 Kathmandu-Delhi Indian Airlines flight in 1999, Moorthy writes.

"Apart from the humiliation caused by the Vajpayee government having to hand over four terrorists in return for the hijacked aircraft and its hapless passengers and staff, the hijackers’ choice of Kandahar over Kabul showed that 21st century terrorists thought before the act, unlike their emotive brethren since the sixties."
N Sathiya Moorthy in The New Indian Express

He further adds that through the past two decades since the Vajapyee era, New Delhi has successfully shaken off American enticements to have Indian boots on Afghan soil and today, with Taliban back in full, if not fuller control, India cannot afford to be lax, nor can it afford to be pro-active.

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As Incomes Rise, Xi Will Have To Change His China Model

Swaminathan Aiyar reflects on the need for the the Chinese political system to be more flexible after it becomes a high-income country with a per capita income of $20,000-30,000, it will stumble and stagnate unless its political system becomes more flexible. In a column in The Times of India, he details how countries like Korea and Taiwan evolved into full-fledged democracies as rising income created a middle class that demanded and got democratic change.

"China did not invent the model of autocratic politics and outward-looking market economics. In this, it followed the model of the original four Asian Tigers — Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Of these, Korea and Taiwan evolved into full-fledged democracies as rising income created a middle class that demanded and got democratic change. I believe that both the social and economic pressures that changed Korea and Taiwan will, in due course, affect China too, though maybe in different ways."
SA Aiyar in The Times of India
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