Sunday View: The Reasons Behind Public Support for Modi & More

What to read on a Sunday Morning? Quint brings to you the best of opinions & pieces curated from leading news papers

6 min read
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Why Bhakti in Politics is Bad for Democracy

The nation-wide cult of Narendra Modi has had only one predecessor, Indira Gandhi. The BJP as a party may oppose vyakti-puja but prime minister Narendra Modi seems to be on a 'self-publicity drive', writes Ramchandra Guha for Hindustan Times.

Hero-worship is not uncommon in India and the list only begins with the names like Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar. But Guha believes that, 'the hero-worship of politicians is inimical to democracy.' Quoting Ambedkar from one of his speeches he writes:

Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.
BR Ambedkar as Quoted by Ramchandra Guha

Guha believes that the Indian democracy is too robust to be destroyed by a single individual, but it can still be severely damaged.

That is why this personality cult of Narendra Modi must be challenged (and checked) before it goes much further.
Ramchandra Guha in Hindustan Times

Read More: Here


Corruption Eradication: Continue to Live in Hope

Writing for Hindustan Times, Karan Thapar tries to explain why the majority public in India supports Narendra Modi's decision of currency change, despite continued hardships and acute misery.

Indians are fed up with corruption and any step to tackle with it is bound to be welcomed. The columnist however digs deeper into the public perception of demonetization and believes that the public is banking upon the hopes of a brighter future.

The bottom line is this is a situation when we all want Mr Modi to succeed and, therefore, we are willing to — indeed wanting to — believe he will or, at least, can. This is why so many people support him. Which raises the question: What happens if demonetisation doesn’t substantially eliminate black money and cure the cancer of corruption? Well, let’s leave that for another Sunday and continue to live in hope.
Karan Thapar in Hindustan Times 

Read More: Here


Across the aisle: Monumental Mismanagement

‘Monumental mismanagement seems to be the signature tune of the NDA government’ writes P Chidambaram in his weekly column for The Indian Express. Hailing the former prime minister Manmohan Singh's statement in the parliament, calling demonetisation a ‘monumental mismanagement’ P Chidambaram calls the decision 'bizzare' which comes at a huge 'cost to economy’.

He counters the demonetization move by questioning the preparedness of banks, the capacity of printing presses, the impact of shortage of currency on a growing economy, with facts around how it reflects on the ground. He writes:

As on November 27, Rs 8,44,982 crore, by value, of notes had been exchanged or deposited. My sources tell me that over Rs 11,00,000 crore had been deposited until Friday last. If deposits will be made at the same rate over the next four weeks, the notes that could return to the system may exceed 90 per cent of the demonetised notes!). If it is possible that nearly all the ‘demonetised’ notes could return to the system, why should we do this exercise? Ans: Because, sometimes a government amuses itself with Khoda pahad nikli chuhia!”
P Chidambaram in The Indian Express

Read More: Here


Fifth column: Plastic Patriotism

‘Nationalism and patriotism come naturally when they are not decreed by people’, argues Tavleen Singh in her column for The Indian Express. Expressing her 'horror' against Supreme Court's decision to make National Anthem mandatory before film screenings in theaters, the columnist believes, patriotism will come naturally if children are taught more about India and less about their colonial past, in their text books.

Not decolonising Indian school curriculums was probably the biggest mistake that Jawaharlal Nehru made and it could end up being Narendra Modi’s biggest mistake. There are BJP governments in major Indian states, so at least in these states there should have been major improvements in school syllabuses...When India looks good, patriotism and nationalism do not need to be ordained by political leaders or judges. It comes spontaneously, and this is the kind of nationalism that will make a real difference, not the synthetic kind.
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express 

Read More: Here


Selective Nationalism: Self-Proclaimed Patriots Seeking to Bring About a Change

Movies and nationalism have gone hand in hand in India and we live in the times of selective nationalism, writes Ridhima Shukla in Hindustan Times.

Questioning why the patriots were not troubled by Pakistani actor Ali Zafar's presence in recently released, Dear Zindagi, she writes:

Our nationalism only sees the light of the day when there are no other issues to be bothered with, such as demonetisation and cash crunch. May be our selective furore against Fawad Khan erupted because we all had sufficient change in our pockets.
Ridhima Shukla in Hindustan Times

She concludes by asserting that nationalism does not mean singling out an issue and forgetting the 'sentiment' at ones own convenience or when you have your own problems to deal with!

Read More: Here


Out of My Mind: Fidel Castro

Meghnad Desai remembers Fidel Castro as a 'colourful revolutionary, but he feels the leader, 'failed to bring prosperity or freedom to Cuba.'

Arguing that Cuba needs a change, if it is to improve the lives of its people, Desai writes:

Castro made a long speech to our conference. You could see his dedication to fight America and imperialism. We did not ask about human rights in Cuba and the restrictions on Free Press and Freedom of Speech...Cuba remained an agricultural economy with low productivity. Communism did not bring prosperity to Cuba. The best one could say is that apart from the Party elite, the rest shared poverty equally. A few old large houses had been converted into restaurants serving meals for tourists. Yet, on the whole, Cubans led poor lives.
Meghnad Desai in The Indian Express

When I Blew Smoke Rings in Fidel’s Face

Jug Suraiya's Juggalbandi in TOI takes us to Cuba this week. He feels it is difficult to talk about Cuba and Castro and not talk about cigars. More than a decade ago Jug Suraiya visited Cuba and his memories of a visit to a Cigar factory offer a glimpse of Castro's Cuba, closed to the world, running on a state controlled economy.

On his way back Jug Suraiya is frisked and asked to reveal details about an unaccounted third box of cigars (the rest two were mentioned in an official receipt).

Cigar factories in Cuba were high-security zones where visitors when leaving were liable to be frisked to ensure that nothing was being smuggled out. Customs told me to open my suitcase. Customs stared in wonderment that morphed into horror at the sight of a box of Trichy cheroots which I’d brought with me from Delhi and which, compared with its glossily-packaged Cuban counterparts, looked like a distinctly shabby poor relation. ‘Would you like to try one?’ I offered Customs. ‘They’re really not too bad.’
Jug Suraiya in Times of India

Suraiya's candid expression of love for Indian cigars leaves the custom officials frowning. The memoir on Castro’s Cuba ends with a question, whether Cuba would have been liberal enough to let him choose between Indian cigars and the Cigars from Havana (as his last smoke), if he was to face a firing squad for the crime of his love for cigars made in India?

Read More: Here


Pakistan Has a Drinking Problem

End your Sunday reads with a fantastic piece by Pakistani journalist and columnist Mohammed Hanif, who writes about the drinking problem in Pakistan. In October this year a bottle of Johnny Walker Double Black was discovered from the car of a politician from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (P.T.I.). It became a symbol of opposition's immorality on national television as the politician claimed it contained honey.

He writes how drinking and denying is the oldest cocktail in the country, but how it was not always the same, with Pakistan's Quaid-i-Azam (great leader) and Baba-i-Qaum (father of the nation) Mohammed Ali Jinnah declaring his love for alcohol. Alcohol is banned in Pakistan, with an exception for non-Muslims. But laws can be cruel and absurd and in Pakistan the shops do not discriminate when it comes to selling liquor. Hidden drinking is the real drinking problem in Pakistan. Mohammed Hanif concludes by writing:

I’ve tried to interview my neighborhood liquor-shop owner, but he has discouraged me. There are enough problems in Pakistan, why don’t you write about them? But is this Bombay Sapphire knockoff you’re selling any good? How would I know? he said, I have never had a drop. Not even for medicinal purposes.
Mohammed Hanif in the New York Times

Read More: Here


The Hindu’s ‘Cartoonscape’

A picture is worth a thousand words a cartoon may leave you speechless! After all your reading and feeling thoughtful, all you need is a dose of humor. Do not miss The Hindu’s Cartoonscape for this week. Here is the latest for you:

What to read on a Sunday Morning? Quint brings to you the best of opinions & pieces curated from leading news papers
Political watchers believe that Mamata Banerjee is Indian politics’ original dramatis personae but is that effective? (Photo: Cartoonist Keshav)

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