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

Find a collection of the best opinion reads curated especially for you, in Sunday View.

7 min read
Hindi Female

1. Dalits are Right: Enough is Enough

In Across the Aisle this week, P Chidamabaram mulls over the Dalit dilemma and its constitutional solution. Dalits have refused to handle cow carcasses, but non-Dalits, presumably gau rakshaks have retaliated with more violence. The constitutional goal, according to the former Union Minister should be to create a sense of equal citizenship. So what stands in the way of that goal?

The real focus of the Constitution is to secure a set of natural rights that every Indian should enjoy, irrespective of the historical injustices. It is to make caste, religion and gender irrelevant to citizenship and citizens’ rights. The project of creating this sense of equal citizenship is still a work-in-progress in this vast and complex land. Hindu hyper-nationalism, which is a form of majoritarianism, is at odds with the constitutional project. The conflict is playing out, in an increasingly violent manner, before our eyes. The consequences of a long-drawn conflict will be terrible for the country and its progress toward the goal of a peaceful and prosperous nation.

2. You Keep the Cow’s Tail

In a post card from Una, Gujarat, Anand Patwardhan takes us back to the most significant Independence Day he ever witnessed. The documentary filmmaker recounts his experience at the protest in Una during which Dalits stood up for their right to demand both land and respect. The end result of this protest has resulted in the littering of several villages with cow carcass – a lesson for the whole country, says Patwardhan.

On the 15th, Una rang with cries of “Jai Bhim” as people arrived in droves...By now, despite roadblocks and stone pelting, 20,000 had reached Una. Apart from local Dalits, there were Rohith Vemula’s mother and brother, Dontha Prashanth of Ambedkar Students Association and many more from all castes and creeds representing various shades of the politics of reason...As the tricolour unfurled in the presence of Radhika Vemula and other affected Dalit families, the Jana Gana Mana was sung by thousands of voices that this country has rarely been interested in hearing. Jignesh called out: “You can keep the cow’s tail. But give us our land!” An oath was administered: “We vow not to enter your sewers and not to skin your dead cattle.”

3. Absurdity of Secularising Teresa of Calcutta

In a hard-hitting op-ed Kanchan Dasgupta breaks down what he believes are myths around Mother Teresa. She was no social worker, or a social reformer, he says. She was a representative of the Catholic church, a zealous missionary untainted by thoughts other than that of Christ. And she never made any attempt to hide this fact. The columnist also writes how Mother Teresa knew the power of the foreign media in moulding the opinion of the “liberal intelligentsia” or the section of the Indian opinion that mattered in the corridors of power.

There is also that other factor: A certificate of good work that comes from the West influences how we look at ourselves. Vinoba Bhave, Acharya Sushil Muni and the Kanchi Shankaracharya never sought nor received any such certificate. Hence, we have minimised their contribution. A third factor has to do with the very nature of Indian secularism, as defined by the liberal intelligentsia at home. Mother Teresa may have assiduously avoided metropolitan India’s highlife; but her rejection did not prevent her from becoming the subject of fashionable discourse in our Left-lib society. 

Source: The Pioneer


4. What is Kashmiriyat?

Kashmir has been under curfew for more than fifty days now. In this week’s column. Pratap Bhanu Mehta examines the oft repeated phrase – ‘Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat, Insaniyat’ coined by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in the current context.

They were a good starting point, says Mehta, but now these are platitudes of avoidance that reflect our contradictions and divisions.

How will a political movement based on Kashmiriyat negotiate differences over the very idea? Can aazadi or a future within the Indian Union both be manifestations of Kashmiriyat? If so, how does invoking the concept solve the problem?…The same is true of jamhooriyat. What are the terms of democracy we are looking at? Given the Indian state’s track record, most Kashmiris will rightly read this as an invocation of the status quo…On insaniyat, the plot was lost a long time ago. The brutal repression by the state, the ravages of militancy, the psychological effects of occupation, have made insaniyat hard to imagine in its institutional form.

5. Baloch: First Sign of a Modi Doctrine

Is the Indian government’s seemingly see-sawing Pakistan policy part of an emerging “Modi Doctrine”? KC Singh seems to think so.

This includes zero tolerance for terror, no place for Hurriyat at the dialogue table and a more assertive stance on PoK to unsettle Pakistan and a readiness to confront the Sino-Pak alliance. The former secretary in the external affairs ministry however does recommend a touch of empathy in Kashmir to balance out the tough talk on Pakistan.

The gloves came off as Mr Modi, in his Independence Day address, pointed at Pakistan’s human rights violations and political skulduggery in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Balochistan. In the process, he also put China on notice that its presence in and economic activity via the disputed parts of Kashmir were questionable. With extremely sensitive elections looming in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, the latter a must-win for Mr Modi, India-Pakistan relations face turbulent times…The ultimate riposte to Pakistan would be to win over hearts and minds in Kashmir. Once the people feel the touch of empathy, only then, as Mr Modi has promised, they will get the whiff of freedom.

Source: Asian Age


6. It is Anti-National to Deny us Paternity Leave

Denied the chance of bonding with the baby in a hammock in a beach resort has Manas Chakravarty wondering why our government gives more weight to emotional issues than cold logic. Unfortunately for Manas, there is no record of paternity leave being availed in ancient India. The stories suggest that Bheem left his demon wife Hidimbi soon after Ghatotkach was born. Same for ancient warriors and sages.

Perhaps we could appeal to Manekaji’s animal-loving side? We could point out, for instance, that the male barking frog stays near the eggs until they are hatched, occasionally wetting them down with urine so that they don’t dry out. The giant waterbug mom glues her eggs onto her mate and dad then carries those eggs on his back until they hatch. Both these dads obviously deserve paternity leave. We could also point out that Prince William took six weeks of paternity leave when his second child was born. We could make the point that an unintended consequence of making maternity leave mandatory is that businesses will be wary of hiring young married women. The only way of correcting this anomaly is if the policy is applied uniformly to dads too and paternity leave is granted for at least six months.

7. End the Rail Budget, Run Railways on Commercial Lines

Swaminathan Aiyar has long argued that a railway budget is a colonial aberration that should be abolished. It is outrageous, he says how one of India’s biggest commercial undertakings has been treated like a political plaything. Finally, the government agrees with him. The noted economist also makes suggestions on how to raise money next.

The railways should be converted into a number of corporations whose shares are sold to the public. The railways already have 14 corporations for different functions, of which the Container Corporation of India is a blue chip listed in the stock market. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has long bemoaned a shortage of funds for investment. Corporatising the railways and selling a 25% stake, for starters, will fetch enough to finance major rail expansion. The corporatised entities will also be able to raise commercial loans for investment. Listing all rail corporations on stock markets will hugely improve public oversight and scrutiny . It will shift the focus to commercial principles from today’s patronage politics and populism. Corporatising the railways was promised by the Modi government in its early months, but then put on the back-burner. Abolishing the railway budget should be followed by corporatisation.

8. Ramya Bhaag Jayegi? No Chance of that Happening

Being a ‘first day first show’ kind of movie goer, Shobhaa De caught the romcom Happy Bhaag Jayegi where the runway bride lands up in Lahore. Protagonists on both sides are projected with the same irreverence; We are shown as being essentially same-same but different, writes the columnist as she goes on to draw a parallel with Ramya’s ‘Pakistan is not hell’ remark that invited a sedition case against her.

There’s no question of `Ramya Bhaag Jayegi’ -to Pakistan or any other country . Why should she? But not every citizen has the public clout of a Ramya. She has the backing of the political party that she belongs to, the Congress. Nor can her supporters be even remotely compared to the wise, erudite Soli J Sorabjee, whose unbiased, sober views have won him immense respect across the world…All political discourse these days is embedded in taking absurdly rigid positions. Fortunately , our movies remain remarkably untouched in this respect. There is a certain innocence portrayed in `Happy ....’ that is far more therapeutic than all the vitriol spilled in the name of patriotism.On a more flippant note: Where is heaven? What is hell? Unless someone has been there and back, how can any comparisons be made? Right, Mr Parrikar? 

9. British Humour is a Prick of the Rapier

When we in India don’t like someone or don’t approve of something we tend to say so bluntly and upfront. The British, on the other hand, have devised the witty put down. Its magic lies in the fact that even when you’re being snubbed you can’t resist smiling.

Karan Thapar strongly recommends Arvind Kejriwal find a bit of wit when he wants to hit out at the prime minister. You mustn’t bludgeon when you want to wound, advises the veteran journalist.

When Winston Churchill, who was peeing in the House of Commons loo, moved a little to the other side, as Aneurin Bevan, the Labour leader, stepped in front of the adjoining pissoir, Bevan tried to reassure him: “Don’t be shy we’ve all got the same thing.” An unabashed Churchill shot back: “I know you socialists. As soon as you see something big and successful you want to nationalize it!”...Even lesser known British politicians can excel themselves. The reason is the House of Commons rewards such repartee. Asked by the trade union leader JH Thomas how to get to the toilet — which the Americans insist on calling a wash room — FE Smith (who, as Lord Birkenhead, was secretary of state for India) replied: “First left, then go along the corridor. You’ll see a door marked ‘gentlemen’ but don’t let that deter you.”
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