Sunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just For You
We sifted through the papers and curated the best opinion reads so that you won’t have to.
The Other Virus That Has Infected India
In regular times people hide their prejudices. Most of us are even embarrassed to acknowledge them. But during this lockdown, we were brazen about our biases, says Karan Thapar in his column for The Hindustan Times. Talking about the incidents of attack and discrimination fueled by anti-Muslims sentiments, he says our prejudices lay just skin-deep.
I blame the media for fanning this fire and I accuse the government of letting the flames burn. For the last 40 days, we were scared, and fear can make people behave erratically, even irresponsibly. That’s why the media has a duty to be wise and balanced. It wasn’t. Instead, it scratched our scars and made stories of the bleeding. A few of our television anchors even made us feel our prejudice was justified. As far as I’m concerned, they can never redeem themselves.Karan Thapar in The Hindustan Times.
‘Irrfan’s Legacy is Like a Constellation of Stars’
“How many people have the chance to observe death coming at them?” veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah, in his tribute published in The Indian Express, recollects Irffan Khan’s words. He says one is thankful that life conditioned Irrfan, not Hindi cinema, and his legacy is like a constellation of stars for every actor to draw inspiration from.
It’s easy to say Irrfan was a natural. There is no such thing as that. Even Michelangelo had to work at his painting to master his craft. I’m certain Irrfan put in immense amount of labour into his craft. There is a great amount of preparation, hell of a lot of self-doubt that you don’t let on and a great deal of heartburn involved to become a good actor. Thankfully, he was conditioned by life, not by Hindi cinema.Naseeruddin Shah in The Indian Express
Shutdowns Kill too. Let biz get Back on Track
Is the cure as bad as the disease? Swaminathan Aiyar, in his column for The Times Of India, takes on a subject that has polarised opinions - will the shutdowns kill as many as the coronavirus? Placing his argument on how excess mortalities -- the excess of deaths in these two months compared with the average for five preceding years -- in Europe has increased, he writes that India should look at its own excess mortalities to understand our situation better.
The Financial Times, London, analysed excess mortality in March and April — the excess of deaths in these two months compared with the average for five preceding years — for several countries, mostly European. It found excess mortality was a whopping 49%, but Covid caused barely half the excess. Perhaps the non-Covid deaths included some undetected Covid deaths. But in the main they were caused by the lockdown’s side effects. Lesson: India must take precautions and innovate on safety measures but also resume economic activity as fast as possible.Swaminathan Aiyar in The Times of India.
Imagination is everything
A lockdown is a pause, not a cure. It provides us time to prepare medically to handle the peak of the infection. In a column for The Indian Express, P Chidambaram asks an important question: do governments need more time? He then takes us through seven realities that should concern us.
The reality is that big industries have realised that the old normal is out forever and are in search of a new normal. They are looking for conserving cash, curtailing capital expenditure, optimising capacity utilisation, downsizing their workforce, becoming debt-free, and expanding work-from-home. Big industries will also consolidate, which will result in less competition (e.g. telecom).P Chidambaram in The Indian Express.
What The Pandemic Tells Us About The State
The ensuing nationwide lockdown is a test for the Indian State. Chanakya, in his column for The Hindustan Times, talks about how the Indian establishment and the people fared during one of the strictest lockdowns in recent times. While the government scores high on decisiveness, it fares poorly in implementing its policies, Chanakya argues.
Rarely has the Indian State been put to test as it is being now. The scale of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing 54-day lockdown — albeit with relaxations that were announced on Friday for the period after May 3 — has been a test for the resilience, integrity, efficiency, decision-making processes and capabilities of the Indian State.Chanakya in The Hindustan Times
With Tough Lockdown, Modi Upturns the Belief That Lives in India are Cheap
In his column for The Times of India, Swapan Dasgupta presents two case studies - West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While the first represents a disregard for the experts when it comes to fighting the coronavirus, the latter is an example of tailoring expert opinion for a political drive. The need is for a middle path, he argues.
As opposed to many world leaders who see politics as the art of the possible, Modi has his eye on what is necessary, even if it involves taking huge political risks. There were a range of options available to him in mid-March. Some of these would have lessened the economic costs but added to the human costs of a pandemic. He could also have chosen a disaggregated approach and left it to the states to do the right thing. Instead, he opted for the most drastic option of a total national lockdown, including the suspension of public transport.Swapan Dasgupta in The Times of India.
Stories not Told of the Pandemic
Do the horrors inflicted on our working class by this lockdown matter to the Indian middle-class? No, says Tavleen Singh in her column for The Indian Express. She argues that the media should be blamed for this, as it failed to show the stories of frail children walking distances and working-class families struggling to get their daily meals.
There have been some among us who have the loudest megaphones of all who have actually dared to declare that the problems of migrant workers are no more than ‘hype’ designed to damage the shining image of our dear Prime Minister. From the safety of TV studios in Delhi and Mumbai, they lecture us daily on the virtues of social distancing’ and urge us to ‘stay at home’.Tavleen Singh in Indian Express.
Sedition, UAPA Denial of Basic Freedoms
Suraj Yengde’s article in The Indian Express draws parallels between the colonial Brtish regime and the current Indian state in using sedition and preventive arrests as a tool to eliminate dissent. He argues that the practice of these laws amounts to retaining the DNA of British-era brutality, and it is a dishonor to those who fought the British for our freedom.
In the country of Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi, adjusting on the lines of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, one cannot have such an inhuman response to the State’s failures. If we do not counter these laws, soon even Ambedkarism might be deemed a terrorist ideology, because it seeks justice and equality.Suraj Yengde in The Indian Express.
A Government Caught in a 'Chakravyuh'
The government has created a ‘Chakravyuh’ like situation for itself, read an opinion piece by The Editorial Board of The Telegraph. They add that like Arjun’s son, Abhimanyu, even the Modi government doesn’t have an exit strategy from the lockdown it has imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Hushed voices in the power corridors say Modi very swiftly and successfully announced the lockdown in the battle against the novel coronavirus but now looks confused about the exit strategy. On Friday, the government announced another two-week extension of the nationwide lockdown while easing restrictions in zones that are relatively less affected. But the widely-circulated revised guidelines written in official language created more confusion, forcing clarifications to be issued within an hour of the announcement.The Telegraph editorial board.
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