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

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

5 min read
Hindi Female

The Ghost of Rafale Appears

Amid growing disquiet over reports of a middleman in India having received 1.1 million Euros from Dassault as part of the 2016 Rafale deal, P Chidambaram, in his column for The Indian Express, writes that the media, the judiciary, the larger opposition, and, the CAG have failed the people who had expected them to scrutinise the much-debated deal.

“For ordinary people, living every day is a challenge. They are conscious of the larger challenges to the country and its governance, but cannot dwell on them for too long. They trust the institutions that they have installed to tackle these challenges including Parliament/Legislature, the judiciary, the free media, the CAG and the Opposition political parties. When these institutions fail — separately or collectively, because of incapacity or collusion or fear — the people just give up and move on. That is what happened in the Rafale aircraft case.”
P Chidambaram in The Indian Express

We Are Winning Against Maoists, but It Doesn’t Have To Come At Such High Cost

Writing on the ambush of 22 security personnel at the hands of Maoists in Chhattisgarh, Rahul Pandita, in his piece for The Times of India, argues that the failure of the CRPF top brass in understanding ground reality, combined with their lack of commitment to any serious inquiry often ensures that there’s no learning from such instances of intelligence failure.

“There is no investigation, and no post-mortem of what went wrong. In the absence of any serious inquiry, body bags keep coming. Speak to any CRPF officer on the ground in Sukma or Bijapur, and he will tell you that such ill-fated operations are planned by officers who have no understanding of the Maoist heartland other than the PowerPoint presentations they carry on their laptops. Sometimes, buoyed by their ‘performance’ in other sectors like Kashmir, they think that the same models of counter-insurgency can be replicated in villages where it has taken years for some security personnel to develop a little understanding.”
Rahul Pandita in The Times of India.

Second COVID-19 Wave Is Much Worse Than First One

Writing for The Indian Express, Tavleen Singh says that while the government has gone “very, very wrong” in its vaccination strategy, the need of the hour lies in acknowledging the shortage and formulating a comprehensive strategy to tackle the second wave.

“If India was truly working ‘together’ to defeat this awful disease, would chief ministers who complain about vaccine shortages be ordered by the Prime Minister not to ‘create a panic in public’? Would they be insulted by BJP spokesmen on national television for ‘playing politics’? If they are part of the Prime Minister’s team, should he not listen to what they are saying? The thing that worried me most was that our Leader seems unaware of how serious the vaccine shortage is.”
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express.

Why Give Romeo a Bad Name?

Following Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s promise of an ‘anti-Romeo squad’ in Bengal, Upala Sen, in her piece for The Telegraph, wonders why the Shakespearean Romeo – an immature and overreaching young man – must be defamed by chauvinistic policy prescriptions.

“Why not just call eve-teasers, eve-teasers? Why not call the squad, anti-eve-teasing squad or Nari Suraksha Bal or some such? Why not talk about teaching the men some tehzeeb, or going beyond beti bachao and facilitating beti empowerment — compulsory karate lessons from primary school, boxing, judo, taekwondo? Why give poor Romeo a bad name?”
Upala Sen in The Telegraph.

Crass Over Class: Battle for Bengal Has Become a War of Bad Barbs

Writing on the many barbs hurled by political parties in the high-pitched battle for Bengal, Shobhaa De, in her column for The Times of India, urges netas to rise up from ‘crass barbs’ and level-up to insults, that in her own words, must make our “ears burn.”

If PM Modi is calling Mamata ‘Didi’, what is stopping the Bengal Chief Minister from calling him ‘bhaiya?’ she asks.

“But this particular ‘yudh’ has given birth to crass barbs and lowlife exchanges. Targeting Abhishek Banerjee, MP and chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, the BJP coined phrases like pishi-bhaipo (aunt-nephew) and tolabaz bhaipo (extortionist nephew). Modi asked whether Didi had started a new tax called ‘Bhaipo’ Service Tax in Bengal while Mamata launched tirades against ‘Gujarati goons’.”
Shobhaa De in The Times of India.

India Does Have a Refugee Problem

The conflation of illegal immigrants with refugees within India’s policy framework has allowed the state to consider political utility and geopolitical factors in deciding who gets a shelter and who doesn’t, writes Happymon Jacob for The Hindu.

“The absence of a clearly laid down refugee protection law also opens the door for geopolitical considerations while deciding to admit refugees or not. Consider the most recent case of Myanmarese refugees fleeing to India for protection from the junta at home. New Delhi’s concern is that if it takes a decision that irks the Generals in Naypyitaw, Beijing would get closer to the junta and use the opportunity to hurt India’s interests in Myanmar. This fear, at least partly, is what has prompted India’s decision not to admit the refugees.”
Happymon Jacob in The Hindu.

I Am the Bear and I Am Polar

From hurling threats if you do not ‘bear’ with it, to detailing how its very job is to make people choose between this or that – Sankarshan Thakur, in his satirical piece for The Telegraph, details how the only purpose in the life of a polar bear is to keep things poles apart.

“You are about to taste polarity. You are about to be driven into being a being of this side or that side, you are about to be pulled apart, yanked if yanking is what it would require. I will tell you, in Shakespearean mien, pardon my pomposity, what differences mean and how fundamental and essential differences are. There is this side. There is that side. There is a separation in between. I occupy that separation, I am the Czar of Fractured Things, I break the world into this and that and I create spaces between them, and that space is my empire.”
Sankarshan Thakur in The Telegraph.

Yes, Glaciers Are Melting but No Need For Panic

Citing a number of Himalayan studies, Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, in his column for The Times of India, writes that since the flow of a river mostly depends on melting snow from land and rainfall, glacial disappearance may not necessarily lead to dry rivers and famine.

“Raina emphasises, it is a myth that glacial melt is critical for river flow in the lean pre-monsoon season. Armstrong shows snowmelt is the key contributor. And snow will continue to fall, melt, and feed the rivers after every glacier disappears centuries hence. This should surprise none: geology shows huge rivers descending from the Himalayas even before the last Ice Age created the glaciers.”
SA Iyer in The Times of India.

Recognition of the Woman Voter Could Perhaps Lead to Recognition of Her Struggles

In her column for The Indian Express, Shalini Langer details how women, who increasingly make up a significant chunk among the electorate, are being wooed by political parties who have been branding their sops as empowerment driven by financial assistance.

“In Bengal, the Trinamool has promised income support to female heads of 1.6 crore households — Rs 500 a month to families of general category and Rs 1,000 to SC/ST families. The BJP has proposed the same, besides 33% reservation for women in jobs. Down south, in Kerala, the promises are more specific. The ruling LDF has promised washing machines and grinders.”
Shalini Langer in The Indian Express.
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