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.
Modi vs Didi and Other Battles
Maintaining that both the pandemic and the economy have sipped out of the government’s control, P Chidambaram, in his column for The Indian Express, writes that the only option before the dispensation is to borrow more, even it leads to a widening fiscal deficit.
“The government has lost control over both the pandemic and the economy. Both lives and livelihoods deserve to be saved. Both require large amounts of money, which is in short supply. The government has no choice but to enlarge the fiscal deficit. Mr Modi does not have the courage to do so, his finance minister is too timid to advise him, and his advisers are a failed lot. The result is an unprecedented tragedy that has wrecked millions of families.”P Chidambaram in The Indian Express.
Bengal: Win for Secularism but Not Human Rights
Calling Mamata Banerjee’s return to the throne of Bengal ‘utterly predictable,’ Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, in his column for The Times of India, writes that the Trinamool Congress’ win may cement secularism in the state at the cost of eroding human rights.
“Mamata is passionately secular but appears to have no qualms about eroding institutions or misusing laws to serve her ends. Arbitrary arrests of opponents are considered normal. Press Council Chairman Katju decried as semi-fascist her arrest of a person who complained at a public event about high fertiliser prices and was jailed on the trumped-up charge of being a Maoist. A Jadavpur University professor was arrested for chain-mailing a cartoon of Mamata and her colleague Mukul Roy. Opposition politicians of the Congress and Left Front have been arrested for criticising her.”SA Aiyar in The Times of India.
Inside track: Delhi’s Darkest Days
At a time when many in the national capital are scrambling for oxygen and hospital beds, Coomi Kapoor, in her piece for The Indian Express, lauds the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for its dynamic management of the surge in COVID-19 cases.
“Instead of a chaotic, uncoordinated central war room, he had divided his city into separate wards and assigned specific responsibilities. I got a first-hand insight of how the system worked since my cousin lived in an apartment block where 40 people tested positive during the month. Amazingly, every single person who required quarantine beds or a hospital bed was accommodated, without anyone having to pull strings. The building manager silently coordinated with the BMC, which allocated a hospital or centre and sent an ambulance within the hour. Chahal is rightfully getting plaudits, but so should his boss. Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray may have a reputation for being laidback, but he realises that delegating authority is the mark of a confident leader.”Coomi Kapoor in The Indian Express.
How Oxygen Generators Got Mired in Red Tape
Taking a leaf out of Odisha’s cyclone-management book, Srikant Sastri, in his piece for The Times of India, writes that the pandemic can be better controlled by investing in infrastructure, building early warning systems, creating community outreach, and, ensuring clear communication.
“Our early-warning systems failed to prepare us for the second wave. We have great epidemiologists and mathematical modellers to create these systems, but they need to be inside truly autonomous institutions insulated from political pressures. What’s more, governments need to heed these early-warning systems and communicate clearly. We have to get this done fast. Building a robust healthcare infrastructure is a national security issue now. Whether at the LAC or to Covid, precious Indian lives are being lost. So, defend them at the nation’s borders, and defend them at homes and hospitals.”Srikant Sastri in The Times of India.
Fifth Column: Virtual Realities
Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to rebuild public healthcare from the scratch and put together a new team, while acknowledging the horror in cities and villages, where many have died of breathlessness, even before they could be taken to a hospital, writes Tavleen Singh, in her column for The Indian Express.
“Modi has always boasted of his image as a strong and decisive leader. This is the time for him to prove that he is. For now, every time he appears virtually on our screens and gives one of his speeches, he sounds as if he has been fooled by his admirers and his social media army to believe that the horror stories are lies. Is this why he has shown more empathy for BJP workers in Bengal than for people dying without oxygen in hospitals? Is this why he has not ordered his ministers and MPs to go into their constituencies and help those who are in desperate need?”Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express.
Rajpath - Vandals at the Gate
In a nostalgic piece for The Telegraph, Mukul Kesavan recounts the many childhood trips to India Gate, and, the landmarks surrounding it. Maintaining that for many a Delhiite, the Central Vista holds little significance, Kesavan writes that it is merely a plan to ‘photo-bomb’ our collective memories.
“One of his predecessors, Muhammad bin Tughlaq, ruined Delhi trying to transfer the capital to Daulatabad. His next brainwave was reforming the Delhi Sultanate’s currency; that didn’t go well either. In his homage to Tughlaq, Narendra Modi cunningly reversed this catastrophic sequence; he started with the currency. Having purged the economy with his killer cure, demonetization, he has now, in a bold and original move, decided to wreck the capital without transferring it. By building a new Parliament in front of the old one, and building offices on either side of Rajpath, he plans to photo-bomb our collective memories. Planting babus and buildings where people used to gather and play, making Rajpath and India Gate unrecognizable, is his road map to immortality. To thwart him we should remember India Gate as it was and set it down. Here, as always, Kundera is our guide: “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”Mukul Kesavan in The Telegraph.
What Congress Can Learn About Nurturing Talent From Corporates
The Congress should take a cue from JRD Tata, whose successful enterprise rested on early identification and nurturing of individuals, rather than putting its weight behind a single family that does not have a charismatic natural leader, writes Hardeep Singh in The Times of India.
“The Congress party faces an urgent imperative to support an internally tested meritocracy of natural leader/s with vision, capacity and energy to build an enduring organisation. Will the family see the light and put their weight behind candidate/s who can give the party a fighting chance to endure? The alternative is to prop up a tired lady or a lackluster family satrap and self-destruct, leaving the country to bear the consequence of unbridled one-party dominance!”Hardeep Singh in The Times of India.
She Said: When My Baby Got Sick With COVID-19
In her piece for The Indian Express, Shruti Dhapola writes about her struggles, after discovering that her 11-month old son had tested positive for COVID-19. While a host of questions had clouded her mind, Dhapola writes that the fear that something would go wrong was extremely overwhelming.
“Then there was the matter of monitoring his blood oxygen levels. Regular pulse oximeters don’t work on babies. I tried but with no success. My husband eventually managed it. Mercifully, it always showed 97, though I was never sure whether to trust this number. My mommy guilt was in full flow as well. ‘Why did I let someone who had gone out of the house near him?’, ‘Why didn’t I isolate the person who had gone out?’, ‘Why did I stop breast-feeding?’, ‘Why did I stop pumping my milk? I should have soldiered on.’ I still can’t stop blaming myself.”Shruti Dhapola in The Indian Express.
Divorces Happen but Let’s End the Break-up Blame Game
After penning an elaborate piece on the recent divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates, Shobhaa De, in her column for The Times of India, writes that the billionaire duo should be left to themselves as it is a matter concerning their money and their lives.
“The divorced ladies are getting dissed khaali peeli. Usual noises — ‘she must have driven him nuts’. Nobody ever says, ‘He was nuts to start with!’ Remember, it is invariably assumed that it’s the wives who got dumped — for which woman in her right mind would walk away from billions? Why ever not if their marriage is falling apart? Jaaney do, Bill and Melinda must know what they are doing and why. Their lives, their paisa. As the saying goes, everybody loves a good war…and a bad divorce!”Shobhaa De in The Times of India.
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