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

We sifted through the papers to find the best opinion reads so that you won’t have to.

7 min read
How about some nice hot coffee and thought provoking reading? 

After Pranab, Another Fit Candidate for Bharat Ratna Would be Manmohan

Sagarika Ghose in her latest piece for the Times of India states how former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is the ideal candidate to receive the Bharat Ratna after Pranab Mukherjee.

She cites some of the highlights of Singh’s progressive policies that shaped India’s financial infrastructure and how the Budget of 1991 was a defining moment for independent India. She points out that to deny Manmohan Singh the country’s highest civilian award would be unfair to someone whose accomplishments far outweigh the failings.

Nor was Manmohan-economics just about berserk, glitzy urban consumerism. Between 2006 and 2016, during and immediately after the decade when Singh was prime minister, India lifted 271 million out of poverty, according to the UN. Today, several of the pro-poor schemes pushed (and hectically publicised) by the Modi government — Aadhaar card, financial inclusion, MNREGA — draw directly from the Singh years.
Sagarika Ghose in The Times of India

We Must Ask Tough Questions About Facebook’s Role. But Problem of Freedom, Civility, Censorship Goes Deeper

Weighing in on the much talked about Facebook controversy, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, in his column for The Indian Express, says that we need to ask tough questions about Facebook’s role in eliminating hate speech from its platform, the spread of fake news and how the political views of some of its key officials in India need to be brought under the spotlight. He points out how Facebook possesses great power which needs to be regulated.

While the stated political partisanship of Facebook officials is coming under scrutiny, the irony is that the manifest political partisanship of public officials is going unchallenged. It is, for instance, remarkable how many serving IAS officers now don’t just disseminate government schemes, but openly violate norms of civil service neutrality, without repercussions. Even in official circles, where non-partisanship was appropriate, the norm has been eroded. So why pretend to be surprised if it is eroded in companies currying government favour? The deeper question is this: Is the price of maintaining consistent credibility a forbearance that allows one to maintain a strict boundary between the public role and private or political views. Can this separation be made in an age where literally the boundary between public and private is breached every time you tweet or post?
Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express

377 Anniversary is a Chance to Celebrate the Happy Gay Stories

To celebrate the second anniversary of India’s historic judgement to repeal Section 377 and decriminalising homosexuality, Sandip Roy, in his latest column for the Times of India talks about how the movement has come further than any of the people in the LGBTQ community would have imagined.

He also highlights some of the problems the community experiences even today and how homophobia is prevalent in a society with increased and more assertive gay visibility.

The Section 377 verdict finally gave us the chance to celebrate queer lives beyond the stereotypes of the mincing comic, the angst-ridden victim, the wistful lover pining in silence. We’ve come a long way from the faux-gay jokes of Dostana to the family rom-com Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan and the wedding-planner in Made in Heaven, a man who is unapologetically gay yet not defined by his sexuality. The verdict also freed companies who wanted to do right by their LGBTQ employees but felt circumscribed by Section 377 being the law of the land.
Sandip Roy in the Times of India

A Surreal Week

Tavleen Singh in her piece for The Indian Express elaborates how PM Modi has concentrated mostly on political matters rather focusing on some of the financial problems of the country. She also counters Modi’s view saying India is currently not a good place to do business.

Tavleen also criticises the media on how it has turned the heartbreaking death of a talented young star into a tawdry circus shifting focus from the terrible state of the economy and other pivotal matters.

The surreal element of this awful news is that the Prime Minister then addressed the US-India Strategic Partnership and said all was well. He urged investors to bring their money to India because of the boundless opportunities for investment that exist. He said, “You have a government that believes in delivering results. A government for which ease of living is as important as ease of doing business.” The truth is that neither is living easy nor doing business. Modi seems oblivious to what his Finance Minister has publicly admitted. Things were bad, she said, but what had happened was ‘an act of God’.
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express

The Worst Affected Economy

The economy is in absolute disarray and P Chidambaram in his column for The Indian Express harshly criticises the government in power for this downfall.

He highlights how the economic downslide started in India long before the first COVID-19 case was identified and how it’s high time that people in the ruling government stopped blaming God for their failures. Chidambaram also lists some of the measures that he feels can help in the revival of the economy.

We are still in a dark tunnel. Many economists believe that we can find our way out of it, even at this stage, if the government took the fiscal measures necessary to arrest the slide, boost demand/consumption, and, consequently, revive production and jobs. The key is expenditure — government and private consumption expenditure. It does not matter how much is spent under which head as long the money is found and spent. The government can find the money from many sources — disinvestment, more borrowing by relaxing the limits under the FRBM Act; using the generous funds to fight the pandemic promised by the IMF, World Bank Group, ADB and others (USD 6.5 billion); and, as a last resort, monetising part of the deficit.
P Chidambaram in The Indian Express

When the Best Laid Plans Go Awry

The death of Sushant Singh Rajput has gripped the nation and has brought forward some of the sensitive issues like depression amongst celebrities.

Lehar Kala in her latest piece in The Indian Express talks about mental health and how the media plays a role in bringing sensitive issues like these to light. She also points out how the Indian film industry plays a key role in highlighting some of the social issues like suicide that many don’t address in traditional media.

Misery is usually invisible. The functioning depressives deal with inner turmoil through their work like the artist Edvard Munch. In 1892 Munch painted Despair, a moody canvas of vivid red skies and swirls of blue, of a solitary figure looking out at sea. It’s upto the spectator to work out the dual symbolisms of melancholia and contemplation. Others like Anthony Bourdain stuck to a rigorous work schedule in the months leading up to his suicide. Point being no one really knows what’s going on in anybody’s head. People most certainly don’t have to be acting like unhinged lunatics to be nursing sweet dreams of death.
Leher Kala in The Indian Express

Design a Safety Net for Poor Urban Women

COVID-19 has caused the rural poor a lot of distress which is the reason Lalita Panicker in her latest column for The Hindustan Times proposes the creation of a database and some form of cash incentives to help them negotiate the rising cost of food, medicines and other essentials.

She also suggests some schemes the government could implement to make more work opportunities available for women so that they can sustain a livelihood.

For the situation to improve, there has to be much greater public spending. The government, in collaboration with civil society organisations, must focus on urban poverty and find ways to address the different levels of vulnerability that the poor, especially women, face — for they confront the “triple burden” of raising a family, earning a livelihood and contributing to community work.There are many schemes which could help. The government can think of increasing the number of days of work available under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, but add on a national urban employment guarantee component to it. Some states such as Odisha, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh have put such schemes in place, and best practices from these could form a template for a national scheme.  
Lalita Panicker in The Hindustan Times

States Should Get GST Revenue That Jaitley Promised

In this week’s column for the Times of India, SA Aiyar talks about how GST was being hailed as a long-term benefit by Arun Jaitley and how in the current financial scenario the central cesses are grossly inadequate to fund the shortfall in the 14 percent revenue growth promised to the states. He also lists some of the ways the Centre can compensate the states for the COVID-induces losses.

Jaitley guaranteed the states an increase in their share of GST revenue of 14% per year for five years till March 2022. He promised that the Centre would make good any shortfall in the guaranteed 14% target. This was generous since even with a real GDP growth of 7% and inflation at the RBI targeted level of 4%, nominal GDP growth could be expected to rise by only 11% per year, and tax revenues at a similar rate. Jaitley’s guaranteed 14% was far greater. It was agreed that new central cesses would be imposed to fund the GST shortfalls to the states for five years.
SA Aiyar in the Times of India

Create Your Future

In her latest column for the Times of India, Pooja Bedi talks about the importance of planning in one’s life. She highlights how it can shape the mental character of an individual and also proposes some of the ways one can plan to look at life from different perspectives. Oh, and she also has some relationship advice to offer.

Planning a new job, looking forward to a new relationship, planning new ways and destinations to travel to is always filled with trepidation and excitement. Many of you wish for a whole load of luck to support you on the road ahead and look desperately for that tiny little window of opportunity to present itself. The law of manifestation states that you need to vibrate at what you wish to attract. Which means if you really want a relationship, hugs, kisses, sex, companionship, stop deluding yourself with “I’m fine by myself and don’t need anyone”.
Pooja Bedi in the Times of India
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