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

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

6 min read
Nothing like a cup of coffee and your Sunday morning reads. 

Rights Over Wrong

Writing for The Indian Express, Arundhati Katju shares her excitement over the reading down of Section 377 by the Supreme Court, having been one of the lawyers representing the petitioners in the case. She breaks down all the legal jargon in and around the 400-something-page historic judgment to reveal crucial observations, their larger consequences and significant moments of note.

The court has emphatically held that fundamental rights do not hinge on the number of people who claim them. Koushal’s reasoning that Section 377 should not be struck down because LGBT people constitute a “minuscule minority” has been put to rest in Johar. The Constitution doesn’t just protect minorities, the individual is the basic unit of the constitutional scheme. The court has thus reiterated its commitment to its counter-majoritarian role.

To Love, Live and Laugh

In The Hindu this weekend, there’s a poetic take on the decriminalisation of Section 377 by Ruchir Joshi who writes that yes, it’s a time to celebrate and dance, but it’s also a time to extend this fight to protect our other rights and freedoms. Joshi is afraid to be too over-optimistic. Freedom, Independence and Relief are always works in progress and sadly, always face resistance.

This outcome will give ulcers not just to the RSS sarsanghchalak but also to the conservative mullah and the Catholic padre. The fact that a judgment has been produced that can begin to cure Indian society of an affliction like Baba Ramdev (who claimed he could ‘cure’ homosexuality through yoga) will disturb not only charlatan sadhu-babas but also many conservative, rationalist heterocrats. Nor have all political parties welcomed this landmark judgment. Just as the BJP government has been conspicuously silent on this issue, so also there is no peep out of the Trinamool Congress or the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Across the Aisle: Black to White Magic

P Chidambaram dusts off the demonetisation debate now that the RBI’s annual report for 2017-18 is out. In The Indian Express, the former Finance Minister explains – with tedious attention to facts – why demonetisation as a policy was both flawed and ill-intentioned, by highlighting its numerous failed objectives and overall lack of transparency.

Some facts are self-evident: 1) The people of India trust cash. They are keeping more cash with them today than in 2015-16. The amount of cash in hand has actually doubled from 1.4 to 2.8 percent. Consequently, cash in the form of deposits with banks has declined from 4.6 to 2.9 percent.

Fifth Column: A False Narrative

Tavleen Singh, both a supporter and critic of the Prime Minister, takes to The Indian Express to reveal the shaky ground on which a false narrative about Modi is being created by a "cabal of leftists and liberals”. To disprove the theory that he has destroyed all institutions of democracy in his term, she takes the case of each one at a time – legislature, judiciary, media – to essentially say that those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Narendra Modi has made mistakes since he became Prime Minister. Serious ones. And, this column has not hesitated to point them out. But, what I refuse to do is become party to the new narrative of lies being spread by a cabal of leftists, liberals and disgruntled ex-BJP ministers that speaks loudest in the public square. This mostly leftist cabal has had control of the megaphone since 1947, but has used it most effectively in the past four years. The megaphone gets louder by the day now that Modi is seen to be weaker politically than before.

Out of my Mind: A Grave Danger

Writing for The Indian Express, Meghnad Desai congratulates the Supreme Court for its verdict on Section 377, but is keen to make some more noise about another decision it made recently – that someone from outside a state is not eligible to claim reservation granted by the state. With the conduct of the NRC in Assam, Desai thinks we are on a slippery slope that may change the very nature of the Indian Union.

The Honourable Supreme Court’s decision means that only the upper castes who are not entitled to reservations (and the non-Hindus) are able to enjoy the rights of mobility across India without paying a cost. Reservations are a handicap for the ‘reserved’ if granted by the state and not the Centre. In other words, state reservations are not open to all Indians.

Cry Fascism! Modi Critics Fall Back on Oldest Trick in Politics

Swapan Dasgupta pens down, in The Times of India, his take on the history of fascism and what it has come to mean in different political ideologies over time. Why? Because he thinks “anti-fascism” targeted against Narendra Modi has come back with a “vengeance” in recent weeks, and he’s not buying it. He’s not fascist, Dasgupta thinks. He’s just creating an Alt-Right.

Together with the disquiet over gau rakshaks and the murders of rationalists in Maharashtra and journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, these incidents have built a narrative of the Modi government mounting an assault on civil liberties. A section of the progressive intelligentsia and activist media have created an impression – not least among Indian students and academics in campuses overseas – that India is sliding towards authoritarian rule. In a clever twist, Modi’s opponents have also sought to portray the culture war involving intellectuals and activists as assaults on Dalits, tribals and minorities.

Just Another Day in Paradise

In her column for The Hindu, Vaishna Roy tries to explain the phenomena that is Vivek Agnihotri and what he seeks to achieve by coining words that don’t exist or seem to make much sense such as “urban naxal”. With a generous dose of wit and sarcasm, Roy makes an important point: linguistic integrity – where words mean what they’re supposed to mean – is exactly what propaganda seeks to overturn. Isn’t that what’s behind the government’s attempt to remove the usage of the word ‘Dalit’ too?

Agnihotri Acolytes don’t remove social inequity; they remove the people who fight it. Or they change the words that define it. They don’t reject fascism; they label people who point it out as ‘urban naxal’ and arrest them. For AAs, acknowledging ‘inequality’ is to create it. Ignoring it is to make it go away. If a farmer complains of poverty, you simply give her alternative words that describe how her income has doubled since she started growing imaginary plums.

COMCASA is Signed

Writing for The Times of India, Andrew Hammond delves into the recently signed Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) military cooperation deal between USA and India. This deal, signed to counter the growing force that is China, had USA announcing a “down payment” of $133 million in regional investments. However, Hammond opines, there is big difference in the scale of ambitions. China’s Belt and Road scheme alone costs $1 trillion.

Part of the rationale for the revamped US Indo-Pacific strategy (the Trump team’s preferred phrase for the massive geography spreading from the US west coast to India), is that New Delhi could potentially act as a growing regional counterweight to Beijing.  Mattis has said that “we see the strengthening of India’s democracy, its military, its economy as a stabilising element in the world.”

2+2 is a Step Forward, but it’s no Grand Leap

A former secretary in the External Affairs Ministry, K C Singh further breaks down the COMCASA deal in Deccan Chronicle. What the deal does answer and what questions it leaves out, and more importantly how it affects Indo-US relations, Indo-China relations and even Russia-Pakistan-China relations – Singh etches out the finer details of the significant development with years of experience at his disposal.

Hopefully India would be factoring-in the unpredictability of US President Donald Trump and the resulting unreliability of the US as a strategic crutch. Thus, a cornerstone of India’s US policy since 2001, that the US considered a stronger India crucial to balancing rising China and for a stable Asia-Pacific security paradigm, is no longer is a given. Consequently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the aftermath of Doklam, began re-balancing India’s relations with China and Russia.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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