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

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

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

Media Management Modi Style

Tavleen Singh clarifies that Arnab Goswami’s arrest cannot be perceived as an attack on press freedom but just as an attack on a journalist who has been openly a spokesman of the BJP and the Modi government. In a column in The Indian Express, she explains how Goswami, on several occasions, has shifted focus from real issues to ‘hate crimes’ by Muslims, helped the BJP use the arrest of Rhea Chakraborty to garner votes in the Bihar election. During Modi’s tenure, media channels with the highest viewership have become aggressive and belligerent vehicles of government propaganda, she writes.

There are many famous TV anchors who have been ‘managed’ by the Modi government but Arnab is the favourite because he has willingly allowed his Republic channel to be used as a weapon against the Maharashtra government. The BJP has made it clear that it wants to take back a state that they believe was stolen from them. In this cause the services of Arnab have been invaluable. He has attacked political leaders and the Mumbai police relentlessly to create the impression that there is a total breakdown of law and order in the state.
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express

Biden as Batman

Mukul Kesavan believes Trump’s defeat ought to be cheered as the power to set the national agenda needs to be with the right person, as it is so massive and can make the vilest political ideas and policies, the law. In a column in The Telegraph, he hailed the Democratic Party for having defeated ‘a villain too monstrous for a Batman movie in real life’ through the electoral process, which is an exhilarating win for liberals and democrats everywhere.

Even if the Democrats fail to turn a single policy plank into law, their defeat of Trump will count as an extraordinary achievement. A second term would have been read as a public mandate for the menu of prejudices he had served up through his first four years. The furthest reaches of the Right — the armed militias, the QAnon anti-Semites, the white nationalists, the climate change deniers — would have merged themselves into the political mainstream. Now that he has lost, the Proud Boys won’t have the president as their scout master, the Bannons of the world won’t have a proxy in the White House, the common or garden racist or the think-tank Islamophobe won’t strut his stuff in the way he did when POTUS was his soulmate.
Mukul Kesavan in The Telegraph

The Lunch Party

During his two-day trip to West Bengal, home minister Amit Shah had lunch at the homes of a tribal farmhand and a man belonging to the Matua sect, which is a clear indication of the BJP’s poll agenda and campaign, writes Upala Sen. In a column in The Telegraph, she commented that this move by several BJP leaders is being seen as an ‘outreach’ programme, rather than reaching out to the people, because of how it is being used as a photo op.

Adityanath said something about sahbhoj or community lunch being indicative of social equality, but there were whispers that the host villages were not particularly pleased at being used as photo props while the CM’s minions supervised cooking of the meal and ensured there was ready supply of bottled water. Another BJP minister visited a Dalit home for dinner all right, but ordered out. The house owner said he had been asked to sit outside his own house. In some villages people apparently joked that at least in the course of these visits they enjoyed uninterrupted electric supply all night. The dining continued, but given the continuing scramble for the Dalit vote in UP, the BJP had overlooked the little matter of the aftertaste.
Upala Sen in The Telegraph

The Meaning of the American Mandate

Joe Biden will have to face challenges in managing a Senate where his party does not have a majority, handling the pandemic and the economy and repairing the US’s global image, writes Chanakya. In a column in Hindustan Times, he writes that the three main issues at hand are --- US capitalism is in crisis and inter-class relations are broken, the country is home to oppressive forms of identity-based discrimination leaving race and ethnic relations strained, and the need for a lot of effort to keep up the smooth functioning of a democracy.

For those who believe in racial justice, the continued hegemony of White Americans across spheres, and the embedded discriminatory attitudes within law enforcement, which often result in the victimisation and killing of Blacks, is a matter of distress. But large sections of White America, falsely, associate African-Americans with crime, conjure up the threat to order and peace, and rally around a leader who promises them security publicly but, in effect, dominance. There is also the discomfort with immigrants, with bigots systematically stoking fears about how outsiders steal opportunities, drain resources, and then even control politics. The proliferation of fake news, enabled by big tech platforms, allows this narrative to deepen. This resentment, or to put it bluntly, bigotry has manifested itself in support for Trump — and is a partial explanation for why he has still got the votes he did despite his staggering incompetence.
Chanakya in Hindustan Times

Neither Is Suicide a Crime, nor Can One Be Driven to It

SA Aiyar points out that suicide is not a crime and urges the Supreme Court to proclaim that the notion of driving people to suicide is medically and logically ill-founded, and shouldn’t be confused with abetment. Some die by suicide because they can’t stand the stress of quarrels with family, unfair treatment, or failures in love, business, and exams, becoming victims of mental ill-health. In a column in The Times of India, he writes that in many cases, the main reason for prosecution is political vendetta.

Through history, millions died in droughts and epidemics. Even so 99.9% did not commit suicide, since the desire to live overwhelmed the worst deprivations for all but a tiny suicide-prone minority. Millions preferred to die horribly rather than kill themselves in the Bengal famine or genocides of Hitler and Stalin. They had far more cause to resort to suicide than Sushant Singh Rajput or the creditors of Arnab Goswami but did not.
SA Aiyar in The Times of India

In Defence of the Right to Choose One’s Love

Commenting on the recent proclamation by the Allahabad court on ‘love jihad’ followed by unveiled threats by the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Karan Thapar asks what has convinced Yogi Adityanath that young Muslim men are conspiring to lure Hindu girls into Islam with offers of marriage? In a column in Hindustan Times, he writes, India has a plethora of creeds, castes, cultures and marrying across religious divides can be a great way to forge bonds that dissolve our differences in a new consciousness of being Indian.

Good heavens, why? To my mind, this is a perfectly understandable reason for converting. It’s proof of a commitment to your partner that overcomes differences of culture and faith. What greater sign of love can there be than a willingness to give up my God and embrace yours so I can live my life with you? If I want to make this gesture who are the courts — or the law, for that matter — to claim I cannot? It affects no one but me. It’s, therefore, a decision I alone have the right to make and no one has the power to question.
Karan Thapar in Hindustan Times

Scepter and Crown, Must Tumble Down

Commenting on why the entire world is invested in the US elections because of the combined financial, military and technological power of the country, P Chidambaram writes that a democratic political system with legally mandated consultations with the Opposition is what is good for the people. In a column in The Indian Express, he writes why many countries have shifted to the right since 2016.

All over the world, with honourable exceptions, the push to absolute power by elected leaders is becoming more pronounced. The conventional institutions and the trappings of a democracy are allowed to remain in place, but they will be hollowed out in diverse ways — by appointing subservient persons to offices, passing weak or restrictive laws, denying funds, bureaucratic hurdles or intimidation. In India, examples of hollowed-out institutions are the Election Commission, the Information Commission, the Finance Commission, and the various national commissions for human rights, women, children, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, minorities and the press.
P Chidambaram in The Indian Express

Inside Track: Defiant Vajpayee

In a column in The Indian Express, Coomi Kapoor writes about how Rajinikanth is being persuaded by the BJP to stand in support for the 2021 Assembly polls, how Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was rattled by the hostile reception on his campaign trail and kept his distance from journalists, while both Tejashwi Yadav and Chirag Paswan went out of the way to woo media. She also writes about how just like the LJP that fielded BJP loyalists who had been denied a ticket, the Congress handed out nominations to RJD members.

Tejashwi Yadav ensured that his elder sister Misa and his maverick brother Tej Pratap kept out of the campaign and did not turn into liabilities. Misa was asked to remain in Delhi or stay at the family house in Patna, while Tej Pratap was confined to his Hasanpur constituency. Father Lalu’s photograph was also missing from RJD posters. The man in charge of handling Tejashwi’s campaign was Sanjay Yadav, his OSD when he was deputy CM. An MBA who belongs to Haryana, Sanjay has known Tejashwi since his days in Delhi when he played cricket. 
Coomi Kapoor in The Indian Express

Bridge Across the River Why

Sankarshan Thakur gives us food for thought on how in life, we encounter many bridges, of which we have crossed some, burnt a few, some have collapsed even before the crossing, some have drowned us and a few have taken us across. In a column in The Telegraph, he writes that the midway doesn’t exist and once you mount the bridge, you most be prepared to deal with it till the end.

Remember the story of the rams coming across from opposite ends of that bridge? Remember what happened when they met in the centre of it? There were two rams and then, suddenly, there were none. They both wanted to cross the bridge. Neither did. The bridge stood, having thrown off its users. Bridges are things we need to be careful of. Approaching a bridge? Check out who is heckling you. Ask why. Wonder why somebody might be pushing you onto a bridge you wouldn’t otherwise have mounted. Have you been at this bridge before? Do you know what’s on the other side?
Sankarshan Thakur in The Telegraph
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