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

Nothing like your morning cuppa and a newspaper on a Sunday. (Photo: iStockphoto)
Nothing like your morning cuppa and a newspaper on a Sunday. (Photo: iStockphoto)

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

1. Across the Aisle: Why Not Try Alternative Approach in Kashmir?

In his column ‘Across the Aisle’ for The Indian Express , P Chidambaram recommends an alternative approach to the Kashmir crisis by repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and by asking the state legislature to review extended laws in the Valley.

Let’s begin with AFSPA: I have two suggestions. Firstly, announce the repeal of AFSPA, assure the armed forces that AFSPA will be replaced by a more humane law (not leaving a vacuum), and appoint a group to draft a new law quickly. Secondly, withdraw the application of AFSPA from select areas as an experimental measure...Instead of sending more troops to the Valley, withdraw some units from the populated areas of the Valley and send them to the border to strengthen the defence against infiltrators and potential terrorists. Send the message that the government trusts the people not to violate law and order.

Contextualizing the deteriorating situation in Kashmir with respect to the recent all-party delegation, he writes that just as alternative medicine to allopathy is emerging as a viable option, the Centre must look at alternative ways to attempt to defuse the crisis in the Valley.

2. Technology and a Well-Designed Policy Can Revitalise India’s Health Sector

Criticising the healthcare system, Chanakya in his column in the Hindustan Times writes that the mixed health system in India has evolved by default and is inadequately regulated. Furthermore keeping in mind the recent outbreak of Chikangunya and Dengue in Delhi, he argues that it is ill-equipped to tackle conventional diseases and woefully behind on research on emerging diseases in the country.

The health sector’s pitiable state hit home hard recently when my woman-Friday fell sick. “I have typhoid,” she said weakly one morning and went home. I wasn’t expecting to see her for three weeks but she resurfaced after four days. Surprised, I sent her blood test report to a doctor friend. “There was no indication of typhoid; it was a bout of viral,” she wrote back. A local doctor asked her to do the blood test and also gave injections and the bill came to Rs 1,000. “The government hospital is forever crowded, so I went to the private clinic,” my house help explained when I told her about the wrong (deliberate?) diagnosis. I wondered, is there is a cosy nexus there between the doctor and the lab. 

3. When the River Weeps

Writing for The Hindu, Harini Nagendra argues that the solution to the Cauvery conflict is not political, but ecological. For a long term resolution the conflict between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it is essential to find ways to recharge the Cauvery which include increasing inflow of water and efficiency of water use.

While Karnataka and Tamil Nadu struggle to find workable solutions to the distribution of water in the river during years of drought, the writing on the wall is clear. As climate change makes its impact visible, we are going to face many more seasons of drought and points of conflict. It is important that we think long term and in a coordinated fashion across the basin. We need to find ways to recharge the river, increase inflow of water, clean up hotspots of pollution, and increase the efficiency of water use. For this, we must take up afforestation along the river on a war footing, move to water-efficient cropping, limit industrial pollution of rivers, ban excessive sand mining, and limit the growing consumption of water for cities and towns along the river. This requires conversation and cooperation across the basin, not reactive conflict.  

4. Out of My Mind: Family Quarrels

Does the Yadav family feud in the Samajwadi Party bring good news for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh? That’s what Meghnad Desai is arguing in his column ‘Out of My Mind’ for The Indian Express.

Either way it must be a birthday gift for the Prime Minister. The BJP has its heart set on winning or at least ruling Uttar Pradesh, singly or in a coalition. The triangle of the Samajwadi Party, BSP and BJP is the battle formation on which Uttar Pradesh’s political future will be decided. There is little prospect of the BSP aligning with the BJP, though it may take the help of the Congress, if the latter wins any seats. The logic always favoured the BJP/SP alliance. If the family quarrel weakens the SP, then the BJP could become the senior partner in a coalition government. If that were to happen, with the PM being an MP from UP, the BJP will consolidate its status as the national party, 24 years after the Babri Masjid.

5. If the Rupee Drifts down, RBI Should Smile and Do Nothing

Swaminathan Aiyar is in a mood for a natural experiment, albeit one which includes the rupee. In his column ‘Swaminomics’ for The Times of India, he argues that if the rupee falls, it would be best for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to avoid intervention as it might help exports.

Rajan is right to say global growth matters more, and that rupee depreciation is no panacea and can stoke inflation. But the exchange rate is not irrelevant. The critics argue that the trade gap is large, but is masked by huge inflows of remittances and foreign investment, which artificially boost the rupee’s value. They argue that the exchange rate should be determined mainly by trade, not financial flows, and hence the rupee should be made cheaper. There is limited, though not overwhelming force in this argument.Far greater problems are low productivity, red tape and high transport costs. China started its export surge with devaluation in 1993 but buttressed that for two decades with huge improvements in productivity, infrastructure and procedures. India lags far behind. 

6. Fifth Column: Thank You, Mulayam

Speaking out strongly against dynastic politics in India in her ‘Fifth Column’ for The Indian Express, Tavleen Singh writes that the latest Yadav family feud is an example of a chief minister using political power to reduce democracy to a farce.

Over the years, dynastic democracy has become the norm from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, and the Lok Sabha is awash with gormless political heirs and heiresses who would not be able to hold down a proper job in real life. Indian democracy has been weakened steadily since, like all bad habits, it has spread fast. The quality of public life has been diminished down to the village level because people who enter politics nowadays come for power and pelf and not public service. So although it may seem as if something terrible has happened in Uttar Pradesh, we must truly be obliged to the feuding Yadav family for having shown us what dynastic democracy means in real terms.

7. Yes, Justice Is Delayed but Guess Who Can Help Speed It Up?

Writing for his column ‘Dharker’s Dilemma’ in the Times of India, Anil Dharker argues that the only obstacle holding up judicial efficiency is the judiciary itself. He argues that the judiciary needs to be less rigid on judicial appointments, should discipline itself to time-bound and quick trials and only take up PILs which deal with the questions of law.

Shouldn’t CJI Thakur also look at the way cases are conducted in our courts? Why are adjournments the rule rather than exceptions? If there is concern for litigants, why make them trudge to court again and again with no hearing taking place? In 1973, a certain Ranvir Singh Yadav worked with the Delhi Transport Corporation as a conductor. He is said to have charged a passenger 15 paise for a 10 paise ticket. For pocketing that 5 paise, he was sacked. The ‘case’ has dragged on for over 40 years and has gone all the way to the high court! Even sadder is the matter of two women in UP who were allegedly raped 27 years ago. Their case has meandered through the courts — in the meantime, one of the accused and one of the victims has died. Are the courts, which jump in to give quick judgements in cases like dahi handi, so incapable of quick action in instances like the ones mentioned here? 

8. Let Arvind Kejriwal Hear a Barber’s Story

In his column in the Hindustan Times, Karan Thapar writes about the generosity of his readers who donated money to help Rajesh, a barber from Delhi, establish a dance school. He contrasts this with the apathy shown by the Kejriwal administration, where despite repeated meetings, no help has been forthcoming and hopes that the chief minister of Delhi would make time for this aam aadmi’s story.

Born in Jamui, in the bad lands of Bihar, his response to poverty was to start a school to teach dance to children from backgrounds of adversity and poverty. Rajesh believes the poor have a talent for dance. The children who perform acrobatics at traffic lights have naturally flexible bodies and their skill deserves to be nurtured. Ninety per cent of his salary goes to the school.Last Sunday Rajesh told me the school had expanded three-fold. It now has almost 40 pupils. The majority attend dance lessons. There are two a day. However, a series of donations have helped Rajesh open new classes -- one for children interested in computer training and another for girls to learn sewing.    

9. Give More Tickets to Women and Many More Will Win

In her column in the Hindustan Times, Lalita Panicker argues that there is a lack of women in the decision making in political parties when it comes to ticket allocation, which reflects in the number of women contesting elections. Debating the perception that politics is a dirty game exclusive to men and that women candidates lack winnability, she argues that in the UP and Punjab elections political parties should give more tickets to women.

The bottom up effect that was to happen when reservations were given to women in local governments in 1994 has not really happened. At that time the belief was that once the participation of women in panchayats reached a critical mass, the gender equations in politics would change. If that had happened, we would not have just 11.23% of women in the Lok Sabha and 11.62% in the Rajya Sabha. At the same time, more and more women seem invested in the electoral process with many states reporting higher turnouts of women than men. In the last election, 65.63% of women turned out to vote, just a little behind the 67.09% of men.

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