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

Here is a compilation of the best opinion pieces across newspapers.     

Updated02 Aug 2020, 01:51 AM IST
7 min read

‘Saare Jahan Se Achha’ Is a Better Economic Mantra

The way to match up to China’s steadfast growth is for India to not just be Atmanirbhar (self-sufficient) but Sare jahan se achha (best in the world), writes S A Aiyar. In a column in The Times of India, he explains how India cannot compete with China by producing high-cost goods behind high tariff walls, but by producing the best goods in the world by developing the best technology. He urges the Modi government and RSS to start schools that can match with the Chinese and universities of Ivy League quality that will start a trend for all political parties to start their own schools of excellence.

Today, India produces millions of useless, unemployable graduates. A new education policy has just been unveiled with details enough to occupy hundreds of pages of analysis. But it fails altogether to tackle the dismal fact that government schools are so bad that poor people pull children out of free government schools and put them in expensive private schools that are scarcely better but give desperate parents some hope whereas government schools give none. Government teachers lack passion, accountability or commitment, are absent half the time, and so educational outcomes remain dismal year after year in Pratham surveys. When India participated in the global PISA school competition, it came second last. Can such a country compete with China?

The Road to Ram’s Temple

Recalling Rajiv Gandhi’s election campaign in 1989, Tavleen Singh points out that had the Congress party believed in ‘real secularism’, the Ayodhya movement wouldn’t have happened. She writes in a column in The Indian Express that it is when they began mixing religious fundamentalism with politics that the BJP figured they could play this game much better. She proposes an ideal solution urging Muslims to join in building the temple and later for both communities to come together to build a mosque on the other bank of the Saryu river.

When Congress leaders behave as if secularism was their personal gift to India, they forget that it was not an idea needed in India because the king was always not just secular but above caste. And, there has never been a Shankracharya who had his own army like the Pope once did. As a result of so much muddled thinking and a political culture that allows anything to be done for the sake of winning elections, we have now come to a pass when in these Hindutva times the supporters of Narendra Modi openly spread hatred against Islam and Muslims. The distinction between Pakistani and Muslim has been slowly erased in the past six years and the word ‘Paki’ has become a term of abuse. It is an ugly time but if our political leaders still have in them a modicum of honesty let them make the Ram temple in Ayodhya a symbol of healing.

No End to a Tragic Saga

While the whole of India, even in a lockdown, has free speech and expression and access to news, Internet, hospitals, police stations and elected representatives, J&K is on a rights-denying lockdown and the Parliament or the political system has not managed to speak up for it. P Chidambaram writes in The Indian Express about the Kashmir issue, that is the constitutionality of abrogating Article 370, devastation of the economy, increase in militancy, new domicile policy, complete alienation of the people and absence of an administration.

The Army and Central paramilitary forces have an overwhelming presence in the Valley. 38,000 additional troops were rushed in after Article 370 was abrogated. Restrictions under Section 144 CrPC are in force practically throughout the year. After March 25, lockdown has aided the administration to shut down everything. If there is seeming ‘peace’, it is what John Kennedy called the ‘peace of the grave’. All major fundamental rights are effectively suspended. The Public Safety Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act are invoked indiscriminately. Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) are conducted widely and daily to curb movement.

It’s Not Just What You Say, but How You Say It, Writes Karan Thapar

While Rahul Gandhi made a credible argument by pointing out how PM Modi was anti-national in hiding the truth about the Chinese attack in Ladakh from the people, the way he said it sounded more adolescent and less adult, Karan Thapar pointed out in Hindustan Times. This in turn revealed more of his own immature manner than the PM’s contradictions, he writes.

It’s now well recognised that when Mr Modi said “neither has anyone intruded across our border nor is anyone intruding”, that wasn’t the full truth. The Chinese are on Indian territory at multiple locations in Ladakh. Even where they’ve retreated there are doubts they’ve fully vacated Indian territory. Mr Modi’s confused statement is interpreted as an attempt to hide the truth. By the same token, it also diminishes his 56-inch strongman image and his promise to defend India’s national interests.It’s this twin target Rahul Gandhi wanted to hit. But read what he actually said and ask if it’s an impressive way of making his point.

How Self-Confidence Is Key to Becoming Self-Reliant, Writes Mark Tully

PM Modi’s call for the nation to be self-reliant has prompted fears that India will resort to protectionism which will protect only the inefficient and corrupt. Mark Tully writes in Hindustan Times about how India should learn from the Chinese model of development by charting its own course and exploiting its strengths, if that even means ignoring global trends and the advice of the World Bank.

Take the example of India’s population. It’s usually regarded as a liability, an economic disaster rather than an economic dividend. But foreign investors see the population as a vast potential market. As a result of its lack of the self-confidence to pursue its own path, India has failed to exploit this asset and so has had to rely on imports to meet demand.Sunshine is a good example of an asset India has allowed China to develop. In 2019, India imported solar equipment worth 1694.04 million dollars. The motor industry is a rare example of India competing internationally. The most successful company, Maruti, has had the self-confidence to introduce a totally different model of working, the Japanese model.

Inside Track: Deluxe Living

Coomi Kapoor writes in The Indian Express about Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who has moved from her Lodhi Estate government bungalow into a duplex penthouse apartment in Gurugram, which is so exclusive, that the residents will not take kindly to the obtrusive security detail that she enjoys. She also talks about how several in the Congress strongly believe that a Gandhi need not necessarily be party president, how Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s popularity is at an all-time low due to his poor handling of the pandemic and the deepening crisis in Rajasthan.

The BJP effort to assist Sachin Pilot in his attempts to dislodge Ashok Gehlot is led by Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat who is close to Amit Shah and in the anti-Vasundhara Raje camp. Raje was not even seen in Rajasthan till very recently. Though she would obviously prefer an ageing Gehlot to a young Pilot as a political adversary, the insinuation that Raje was in league with Gehlot is probably incorrect. True, the Rajasthan government had appealed in the Supreme Court against the High Court order to evict Raje from her government bungalow in Jaipur, but the law that was struck down would have also benefited Gehlot.

Text of Education Policy Artfully Navigates Several Thickets. Fears About Document Come From Context

While the New Education Policy has asked all the right questions on critical thinking, the real test lies in the implementation, writes Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express. The policy risks creating a new kind of institutional isomorphism, with a lot of ambiguity in the language policy, exit options in college and the way exams will be held. Also it is imperative to look into how universities, at the moment, are being intimidated into political and cultural conformity, which prohibits a free education system from flourishing.

The document talks about flexibility, choice, experimentation. In higher education, the document recognises that there is a diversity of pedagogical needs. Students might need different exit options. But it is unclear if the document is recommending that the diploma or early exit options all be made available within a single institution, or different institutions offer different kinds of degrees. If it is a mandated option within single institutions, this will be a disaster, since structuring a curriculum for a classroom that has both one-year diploma students and four-year degree students takes away from the identity of the institution.

Yes People and No People

Sankarshan Thakur pens a clever piece highlighting the binaries of this world of complexities into mere blacks and whites. He writes in The Telegraph about how peoples’ choices in the world are made into THIS or THAT, creating spaces where the OTHER is judged and there is no room to question.

We are in the purity of things, no mixing, no dilution. It is like the Races. Remember the Pure Races? And what that idea begot? White was right, Black was wrong and the wrong had to be done away with. Or, who knows, Black may someday be right and White may someday be wrong and that White would have to be done away with. Purity is such; it begets impurity. It tells you absolute things. Like No is always right and Yes is always wrong. Or vice versa. No room for doubt, no room for could be or may be or perhaps or probably.

Bend It Like Baba: Look Who’s Really Flexible, Sima Aunty

Twinkle Khanna writes a satirical piece on how Indian marriages have then, now and always believed in a union between two families and not just two individuals. While ‘Sima aunty’s’ ways of matchmaking in the controversial Netflix movie may seem Oedipal at times, she is just giving her customers what they demand, she writes in The Indian Express.

Mummy ji and I are playing rummy. She can’t have people over and I enjoy the game, so this is a decent compromise. Indian Matchmaking’s Akshay may keep wanting a wife like his mother, but his movie star namesake, accidentally managed to pull this feat off, as my mother-in-law and I are both independent, outspoken women. This has led to many situations where the man of the house has confessed, ‘I feel sandwiched between you two.’ I have comforted him by saying, ‘Well, then you get to be the fancy avocado filling, while mummy and I are just the boring slices of bread.’
Published: 02 Aug 2020, 01:41 AM IST
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