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Sunday View: The Best Weekend Op-Eds, Curated For You

The tale of Arundhati Roy meeting Snowden & Modi’s silence on critical issues. The best Sunday reads curated for you

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1. I know why you’ve come – to radicalise me, Snowden said: Arundhati Roy

In a cozy room number 1001 at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow, Booker Prize-winning writer Arundhati Roy met with American spy fugitive Edward Snowden and veteran US journalist Daniel Ellsberg. The conversations continued for two days only to be hindered by disagreements, surprises, laughter and jokes. Sometimes the ordering of food. Co-authored by Hollywood actor John Cusack and Arundhati Roy the conversations have now come out in the form of a book- ‘Things That Can and Cannot Be Said.’

Your best weekend read this week is definitely Arundhati Roy’s interview with TOI’s Srijan Mitra Das, where she talks about ‘the need to hold on to our seditious hearts.’

The interview talks about America’s quest for winning a war, the idea of Nationalism, the personal choice of being patriotic, even Narendra Modi.

I think the first question I asked Ed was, “When was the last time the US won a war?” And we talked about how, despite the military might and all the surveillance, the US can start wars but can’t seem to win them. Because people are stubborn and steely, and they fight back in so many ways...
Arundhati Roy as quoted in the interview
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The tale of Arundhati Roy meeting Snowden & Modi’s silence on critical issues. The best Sunday reads curated for you
Dr BR Ambedkar in 1950. The Directive Principles of State Policy are the guidelines or principles given to the central and state governments of India, to frame laws and policies. (Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

2. Good intent or bad ‘neeyat’? How Modi government scores on directive principles

Is the government of India, resolutely pursuing some directive principles from the Constitution of India, more religiously than the others? In a scathing piece doused with satire, Journalist and activist Aakar Patel asks the question.

Aakar highlights the issues that need urgent attention from the central government in the light of Indian Constitution’s directive principals. He hopes the government addresses the issue of “unjust trials of Muslims and Dalits” as the constitution promises them, “equal justice and free legal aid”. He talks about the government’s coal mining policy that seems to be discriminating against tribals while the Article 48A obliges the State to “protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests.” Aakar writes:

What is this government’s neeyat when it comes to the directive principles of state policy? This is a question it answers every time it picks and pursues some principles over others.
Aakar Patel in his blog Aakarvani
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The tale of Arundhati Roy meeting Snowden & Modi’s silence on critical issues. The best Sunday reads curated for you
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo: PTI)

3. Across the aisle: Silence-new gold standard of governance

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks frequently, tweets extensively and writes sparingly. No one is surprised when he seizes the occasion and speaks. It is only when he ignores the occasion and withdraws into silence that questions are raised.” Former finance minister P Chidambaram, in his column for The Indian Express, questions Modi’s discretion of ‘selective speech’.

Mr Chidambaram highlights how the PM has almost remained silent on issues like VYAPAM, Lalit Modi, Rohith Vemula or Dalit atrocities. He writes:

Silence can be a strategy, silence can be a tactic, but silence can never be an answer to the ills of our polity and the fault lines of our society. When an eloquent and willing-to-speak prime minister deliberately chooses not to speak, decent citizens will be concerned, students will demand answers, Muslims will feel alienated and Dalits will feel threatened. All of those do not augur well.
P Chidambaram in The Indian Express
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The tale of Arundhati Roy meeting Snowden & Modi’s silence on critical issues. The best Sunday reads curated for you
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: Reuters)

4. Silence is not golden for statecraft

Journalist and columnist Karan Thapar, raises a similar concern in his piece for Hindustan Times. “Is this the right response or an attempt to wriggle out of a difficult situation and duck wider responsibilities?,” he asks.

Mr Thapar highlights the rhetoric responses to questions around Narendra Modi’s silence. “The Prime Minister doesn’t have to comment on everything” or “Mr Modi doesn’t have to speak, his ministers have spoken” to name a few. And the more firm and consistent ones like- “Not every issue needs the Prime Minister to speak out”. Karan Thapar writes:

When the country is troubled we look to the prime minister to articulate a position around which the rest of us can rally. This is not to see him as a sage or prophet but you do need the imprimatur of his authority on the right position or the right course of action, particularly when the wrong option is gaining credence and attention.
Karan Thapar writes in Hindustan Times
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The tale of Arundhati Roy meeting Snowden & Modi’s silence on critical issues. The best Sunday reads curated for you
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation from Red Fort on the 69th independence day. (Photo: AP)

5. Fifth column: Not much to report

“Narendra Modi’s first address from the Red Fort was electrifying. He spoke of things no prime minister had dared to do — open defecation, sanitation, public hygiene and the appalling condition of India’s daughters,” writes Tavleen Singh in her regular column for The Indian Express.

Disappointed on the fact that most of what Mr Modi promised in his previous independence day speeches remains a ‘talk’, she says, “on the ground, action has been pitifully inadequate.” Tavleen writes:

If the Prime Minister orders an inquiry into this dire absence of ‘parivartan’, he could find that as usual, Indian officialdom has got in the way. He may also find that had he trusted his chief ministers more, we may at least have seen dramatic change in states ruled by the BJP. He chose to trust high officials instead, holding regular video conferences with chief secretaries. And nothing happened. He misjudged the extraordinary skills Indian bureaucrats have to stymie change.
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express
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The tale of Arundhati Roy meeting Snowden & Modi’s silence on critical issues. The best Sunday reads curated for you
Volunteers of the Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)(Photo: Reuters)

6. RSS’ India model comes to Gujarat

Ramchandra Guha opines that to understand the present politics of the cow in India, one must refer to an article written in October 1952 by MS Golwalkar, the long-serving sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). In the article which was written immediately after Bharatiya Jana Sangh, had won a mere three seats in the first Lok Sabha elections, Golwalkar made a public appeal through the press, asking young Hindus to ‘revive the fundamental values and ideas’ of their faith’. Guha writes:

Golwalkar died in 1973, but his ideas were kept alive by radical Hindus. A recent article in Mint profiles the Bharatiya Gau Raksha Dal, whose mostly Brahmin members pledge to “save the cow because she is our mother”. Now, with their government in power at the Centre, these activists are emboldened to attack Muslims perceived to be eating beef or transporting cattle. After Modi took office, such lynchings have taken place in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Himachal Pradesh. Meanwhile, newly elected BJP state governments have made cow protection and a ban on beef their priority.
Ramchandra Guha in Hindustan Times

He concludes by saying how Narendra Modi hoped to bring his Gujarat model of economic growth to the rest of India, but what has sought prominence instead is Sangh Parivar’s Indian or Bharatiya model of religious majoritarianism for the whole country.

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The tale of Arundhati Roy meeting Snowden & Modi’s silence on critical issues. The best Sunday reads curated for you
Kashmir has been on the boil after the killing of Burhan Wani. (Photo: PTI)

7. Out of my mind: Azadi

Lauding P Chidambaram for speaking the ‘difficult truth’ on Kashmir, Meghnath Desai in his column for The Indian Express writes:

In Indian Parliament, there is little freedom for back benchers to speak their own mind. Yet P Chidambaram has boldly spoken the unspeakable about Kashmir. He is the first ranking member of any of the political parties to say openly that India (that is all except J&K) has reneged on the bargain the Kashmiris were promised. He was shot down for this by Ghulam Nabi Azad as not reflecting Congress policy. That alone guarantees that he was telling an unpalatable truth to his own party.
Meghnad Desai in his column for The Indian Express 

Desai argues that the solution to the Kashmir issue lies in taking the bold decision of conducting a referendum where all the citizens of J&K have a vote. “If India is to make J&K love India, this is the only way,” he says.

Source: The Indian Express

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The tale of Arundhati Roy meeting Snowden & Modi’s silence on critical issues. The best Sunday reads curated for you
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Kashmir Scars of Pellet Guns)

8. Talking to Srinagar is way more important than talking to Islamabad

Indian television news anchors are literally at war. Their reporting and writings on Kashmir and Pakistan are the new litmus test of patriotism and nationalism. Barkha Dutt in her opinion piece for Hindustan Times writes:

Terrorist sympathiser”- that was Twitter’s abuse of choice for me this past week. Why? Because I stated- entirely matter of factly- that Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen militant whose killing has pushed the Kashmir Valley to a precipice of uncertainty, was the son of a school headmaster. In what now seems to be a doomsday prophecy, just a few weeks ago I was deep in the interiors of South Kashmir, the epicentre of the insurgency, reporting on the dangerous new trend that Delhi was ignoring-school toppers, from economically well-to-do households embracing the gun.
Barkha Dutt in Hindustan Times

Ms Dutt argues that the government of India’s response to violent protests in Haryana, Gujarat or Rajasthan has always been different to the protests in Kashmir and this is essentially where the problem lies. She writes:

The last few weeks have made it evident that instead of investing political capital in Pakistan — as Narendra Modi has done — he could have directed some of that energy toward our own people. Talking to Srinagar is way more important than talking with Islamabad.
Barkha Dutt in Hindustan Times
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The tale of Arundhati Roy meeting Snowden & Modi’s silence on critical issues. The best Sunday reads curated for you
Every two minutes, three Indians die of tuberculosis in India (Photo: iStock)

9. The gulf in tuberculosis care

R. Prasad in The Hindu  writes about the dismal state of tuberculosis (TB) care in the private sector in India. A November 2015 study published in The Lancet assessed the clinical practices and quality of TB care in India. Seventeen individuals who posed as TB patients made 250 interactions with 100 doctors as either patient 1 or patient 2 (presumed TB- suspected but not already diagnosed to have TB), patient 3 (confirmed TB) or patient 4 (suspected multidrug (MDR)-resistant TB). The interactions took place between April 1 and April 23, 2014 and the study found that only 12-13 per cent of those with presumed TB were correctly managed.

The private sector is the first point of contact for nearly 80 per cent of TB patients in India, and it offers TB care to nearly 50 per cent. Yet, the deviation from the established standards of TB care in clinical practice as seen in this study is the reason why TB patients most often encounter a delay of nearly two months before a correct diagnosis is made.
R. Prasad in The Hindu

Source: The Hindu

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Topics:  Narendra Modi   The Quint   Edward Snowden 

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