Sunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just For You
Here is a compilation of the best op-eds across newspapers this Sunday morning.
Is the Mood Changing?
With the 2019 Lok Sabha elections around the corner, Tavleen Singh, in her column in The Indian Express, ponders upon whether it is time to start thinking about an alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Confessing that she has openly supported PM Modi in her space for the daily, she writes that she still believes that he is a “a taller leader than anyone”. However, she cites the recent Lokniti-CSDS-ABP poll, which shows that PM Modi’s popularity has taken a hit, while that of Rahul Gandhi is rapidly catching up.
If not Modi, then who could be India’s next prime minister? Is it time to start asking this question? I think it could be because Indian voters are today more impatient than they were 10 years ago, and they are much more aspirational. When they gave Modi a full majority in 2014, it was because they desperately wanted change and development. This latest poll says that today, close to half the Hindu voters polled across India admit that they are unlikely to vote for Modi next time. Muslims, Sikhs and Christians were unanimous in their desire not to.
2019 Slogan: Ab Ki Baar, Kya Pata Kiski Sarkaar!
Chetan Bhagat begins his piece in The Times of India with a disclaimer – that his words are not a prediction but a possible outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He states that the “ebbing Modi wave” and Opposition unity may cost BJP the seats it won in 2014. That said, he expects the BJP to return to power with a coalition – like the Congress did with UPA II in 2009.
Of course, the BJP finds it more difficult to pull allies than Congress. Hence, what will happen remains to be seen. Overall, it will signal the return of coalition politics in the country. Some say that is what leads to heavy corruption. Then again, some say, a majority government becomes too authoritarian and can also be corrupt. A lot will change in the course of the year. However, one thing is clear. The Indian voter will never settle.
In his The Indian Express column, Meghnad Desai writes that the Indian government should hold a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir, to ask people whether or not they want to stay in India. Calling Kashmir an “orphan child,” Desai opines that the only reason India hangs on to the Valley is because Pakistan covets it.
There is no point in going on doing the same thing again and again, though that is all everyone will do. There will be Governor’s rule at least till the general election, whenever it is. We will then get another coalition from the mix of the NC, PDP, BJP, Congress. The coalition will come to power but not last five years. There will be no difference in the number of civilians or soldiers or police killed, plus the usual tally of terrorists. Pakistan will be blamed as will the local dissidents. TV news channels will wax eloquent. And so it will go on.
Why We Treasure Democracy
As India marks 43 years of Emergency this week, Rajeev Bhargava, in his piece The Hindu, reminds us about the importance of democracy, and the lessons we must not forget.
He points out that peaceful transfer of power, the lack of basic fear and anxiety to which social and political life is prone, and the seriousness with which people’s needs are taken, are the three aspects that makes democracy great. However, he says, it is important to remember these if we want to sustain Indian democracy.
Any attempt to subordinate the state to the whims of a powerful individual or to use it disproportionately in favour of one group disturbs this delicate consensus, destabilises Indian democracy and wrecks the collective future of its citizens. The nasty experience of our own Emergency and the unsavoury condition of societies plagued with attempts at domination (by the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka or Sunnis in Pakistan) teach us to treasure democracy. Forgetting this lesson is disastrous.
Chanda Kochhar, Like Icarus, Has Scorched her Wings
“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. In his column for Hindustan Times, Udayan Mukherjee quotes Harvey Dent from the Batman franchise to describe Chanda Kochhar’s career.
He imagines Kochhar’s end to be like that of the mythical Icarus, who flew close to the sun only to have his wings scorched. Mukherjee writes that the ICICI CEO’s controversy tells a larger story of how women no longer rule India’s banking sector.
Kochhar’s end may be like the mythical Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and scorched his wings. It’s yet another lesson on the pitfalls of public life, forever under the spotlight of judgmental scrutiny. It seems harsh to measure a three-decade career by a relatively minor lapse, but that is the price for all the wealth, stature and accolades it comes with, when the going is good. Finally, it is how you play your last innings that matters.
To Write the Right With Rights
In a column for The Telegraph, Sankarshan Thakur warns against the trend of relying on the internet instead of mind or memory. As a result of this, he writes, people ignore the things that are happening in front of their eyes because “it is such a rabid upturning of right things”.
The Net has us plonked on a stunning tech-toboggan; as we zip past the novelties with nightmarish velocity, we know there’s more of this coming that hasn’t even knocked on our imagination. Every day is a blitz of energies. Buy one, get four free - website, wiki, blogspot, vlogspace. And there’s Twitter, the new axis on which our planet revolves. Strapped on this search engine of new frontiers, it is easy to become blissfully numbed about your critical faculties or their great uses. Left click and you are on the information highway, right click and new windows of opportunity are cascading.
Spare a Thought for Kashmir’s Women
In her column in Hindustan Times, Lalita Panicker writes about an issue that is often ignored in the broader Kashmir debate – the women who live in this conflict region and the physical and mental trauma they are subjected to. Panicker points out that it is not only important to understand the grief of the women, but also to address the grief.
An evening out at the cinema or just strolling down a mall is not in the realm of possibility for most women. They are forced to live within the walls of their homes in an environment of disruption and violence. Suicides have increased since the insurgency began along with severe mental problems, which somehow don’t feature in the larger scheme of things. I don’t ever recall any politician or interlocutor speak of the mental stress and trauma of living in such depressing circumstances or how to deal with these.
India Has No Messi but We do Have a Different Kind of Hero
In her 24 June edition of the ‘Politically Incorrect’ column in The Times of India, Shobhaa De writes about her disappointment with India for not making it to FIFA World Cup 2018. Choosing to focus on “bigger desi heroes,” she highlights the case of 17-year-old Sudiksha Bhati, the daughter of a tea-seller, who bagged a scholarship to study abroad. Hailing the teen’s achievements, De writes about the “desperate need” to review our education and sports training. It is time we give serious thought to why we aren’t excelling in all fields despite the presence of an abundant talent pool, she writes.
Until and unless we prepare youngsters to think for themselves and find solutions that aren’t embedded in outdated tomes, we will continue to produce worker ants and not thought leaders. In the context of how truly terrible our educational system actually is, Sudiksha’s story serves as a morality tale. She succeeded despite the system. This is true about a lot of our outstanding sportspersons, too. They make it against tremendous odds. The pity is we have it all in India — the space, the money, and multiple opportunities to excel in every field.
Knight of the Rue Afzah
In a breezy read in The Telegraph, Tauhid Khan takes us on a walk down memory lane – of summers, childhood and Rooh Afzah. Khan writes that growing up, he often wondered about the flavour of the scarlet drink. Was it rose, watermelon, or pudina? The drink no longer tastes the way it once did, he writes.
Perhaps it was the heat, perhaps I was just thirsty, perhaps it was destiny. For there, wedged between the mango drinks and litchi ones, the sweet lassi and the packed cold coffees, staring at me from a smart scarlet and yellow tetra pack was Rooh Afza in an all-new andaaz. It had lemon and mango variants. I helped myself to all of them.Did it taste the same? Of course not. Nowhere close or classic. But at least it was around.
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