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.

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

Reforms Without Growth

The Indian economy has been sliding rapidly into an abyss as opposed to the claims made by the ruling government that it was the ‘fastest-growing large economy in the world’, writes P Chidambaram in his latest piece for The Indian Express.

He also lists some of the arguments presented by Dr Arvind Panagariya in favour of Modi who says that the current PM has established his reformist credentials alongside PMs like PV Narasimha Rao and Vajpayee.

Chidambaram adds that Modi is a cautious leader with a strong bias towards crony capitalism.

He supports incipient monopolies. If he wants to undertake genuine, bold reforms — which he can do given his absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, something that neither Narasimha Rao nor Dr Manmohan Singh enjoyed — a list can be put together. The ultimate test of a reform is whether the reform adds to or accelerates the growth rate of the GDP. By that unquestionable standard, the ‘boom years’ under Dr Manmohan Singh make Dr Singh the reformer par excellence.
P Chidambaram in The Indian Express

2020 vs 2016: Battle for ‘Worst Year Ever’

The year 2020 has been called by many names, “Armageddon”, “mood-killer”, “catastrophic” and even “Lord Voldermort’s year”. Nothing good seems to have come out of it.

Another year that was calamitous for many was 2016 which was marred by numerous celebrity scandals and deaths, unrest in Kashmir and political activists being charged with sedition.

Rega Jha writing for The Times of India draws a comparison between the year 2016 and 2020 and which one should be tagged as the ‘worst year ever’.

Looking back now at the news of 2016 is a bit like watching the protagonist of a horror film walk boldly towards the mysterious payal sounds. In 2016, Kangana was embroiled in a year-long scandal involving Hrithik Roshan and emails and, somehow, witchcraft — a news cycle we can now recognise with painful retrospective clarity as her radicalisation against Bollywood nepotists and news media. In 2016, Arnab set off to launch a new venture that nobody knew anything about. Well, shit. We know now.
Rega Jha in the Times of India

Well Done, Bollywood

Tavleen Singh in her latest piece for The Indian Express talks about the recent defamation suit that was filed by leading Bollywood production houses against four anchors from news channels like Republic and Times Now.

Singh argues that the way Bollywood was maligned on these news channels was wrong and writes in their defence as she believes that it stands for secular values that need to be cherished more today than ever before.

It is my fervent hope that the efforts being made to demean and perhaps destroy Bollywood fail, but there is no point in denying that the men who want to see it destroyed are today extremely powerful. They are determined to use Bollywood as a vehicle to spread their version of ‘nationalism’. If in the process they end up causing more harm than good, they could not care less. It saddened me when Bollywood seemed to react in a spineless, supine way to these efforts to attack its very foundations.
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express

China App Ban is not Enough: Protecting the Data of Indian Citizens Needs a Modern Data Privacy Law

Many have argued in the past that India, which is home to millions of internet users, is in dire need of strict cybersecurity laws.

Poornima Advani in her latest column for The Times of India suggests that banning Chinese applications is not a solution to India’s data privacy issues and that it needs stricter laws to protect the personal data of citizens.

She urges that the government needs to be equipped adequately to monitor and penalise data theft.

Any requirement for data localisation can only be enacted through a data privacy bill. Until then, citizens’ data can be stored without coming under the purview of Indian laws. There is no special protection given either to sensitive data – for example a health condition – leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by entities such as foreign companies or even state agencies.
Poornima Advani in The Times of india.

COVID-19 Can Be a Boon, If We Do the Right Things for Children, As We Reopen Schools

Educational institutions have been one of the worst-hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the government has decided to start opening schools in a phased manner.

Rukmini Banerjee in her piece for The Indian Express lists some of the ways the teachers, parents, students and even the management can help in the process of school reopening.

This phase could also provide new opportunities that can be tested in the next few months to see if they have the potential to become enduring features of our school system.

Teachers can set up individual meetings with parents in rotation, to find out how the family has been coping and to suggest “school readiness” activities that can be done at home. Parents, especially those who do not have much education, have often not been involved in their child’s school life. During this period of school closure, parents have had to take the responsibility of children’s learning through whatever was possible at home. Their efforts and initiatives need to be recognised and celebrated by schools and teachers. Gradual school re-opening can be a good time for parents and teachers to interact and form a closer relationship.
Rukmini Banerjee in The Indian Express

COVID Caution Gives way to Carelessness, But Public Policy Can’t be Ram Bharose

The current reality of 8.12 lakh active COVID-19 cases and 1.11 lakh deaths has not deterred people from moving out of their houses as the pandemic wreaks havoc across the world.

Swapan Dasgupta in his latest piece for The Times of India says that social distancing and the government guidelines are being made a mockery of and this recklessness isn’t only restricted to India.

The fear that had gripped nations six months ago has faded and people are waiting for the vaccine and moving on with their normal lives with a “Ram bharose” philosophy.

Part of the recklessness has been generated by more and more people getting cured. Part of it is purely economic. How long can people endure the strain on their pockets? But above all, there is a widespread impression that while immunity boosters — whether vitamin supplements, homeopathic pills and herbal concoctions or plain gargling with salt and warm water — can be a protective shield, it is ultimately a question of luck. In this game of Russian roulette, the extremely careful have contacted the virus while the reckless have managed to escape illness.
Swapan Dasgupta in The Times of India

I Want to Say her Name, Force Us to Look Within

The Hathras incident has exposed the atrocities that Dalit women face each day and Suraj Yengde writing for The Indian Express elaborates how caste solidarity is firmer than anything else today.

He points out how the women from the Thakur caste chose conspicuous silence and shifted the blame on the victim which proves, once again, that caste has more returns for the dominant castes than their immediate identity as a woman.

He also adds that perpetrators need to be disarmed and people need to be given the confidence to fight back against such evils.

To prove its credibility, the state should declare Dalits protected species. They should make an act that is anti-Dalit an act against the state, those held responsible for atrocities should be slapped with anti-terrorist laws. Until these steps are taken, India’s Dalits will have no faith in the state.
Suraj Yengde in The Indian Express

Losing Out on the Right to Privacy in the Public Domain in the Name of Surveillance

Murali Karnam in his column for the Deccan Herald talks about the evolution of the surveillance system from a traffic monitoring tool to something now being used to spy on citizens.

He elaborates how images captured by these cameras may seem innocuous but in the larger scheme of things prove more potent. He highlights some of the grey areas regarding consent and how people are still in the dark of how they are being monitored.

There is a mistaken notion that there is no right to privacy in the public domain. The  right to privacy includes the right to autonomy and anonymity. This is what constitutes privacy in public life. The camera makes the privacy in public places insecure. This constitutes illegal search of a person without informing them. This important right is rendered non-existent by these open place devices.
Murali Karnam in the Deccan Herald

People’s President

Gopalkrishna Gandhi in his latest piece for The Telegraph remembers India’s former President KR Narayanan — who would have turned 100 this year — and looks back at his life as he battled poverty, caste and dispossession in home town Uzhavoor in Kerala.

Gandhi highlights some of the key events during Narayanan’s presidential rule and how he took the office and the responsibility “as something that had just come his way in the much larger trod through life.”

Narayanan learnt to protect, not flaunt, his sense of self-respect, exactly as he learnt to protect and advance without trumpeting India’s sense of its greatness. And he did that with a quiet elan that was his own. His speech at the banquet he hosted for President Bill Clinton on March 21, 2000 is a classic of plain-speaking. “As an African statesman has observed to us,” he said, “the fact that the world is a global village does not mean that it will be run by one village headman.”
Gopalkrishna Gandhi in The Telegraph
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