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.
In her weekly column for The Indian Express, Coomi Kapoor gives us the lowdown on all the political gossip this week. From the reason behind Uttar Pradesh's increased representation in the Union Cabinet, to Vir Sanghvi's latest book, to why Prashant Kishor is an "invaluable asset", and the planning behind how Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad's axing from the Cabinet was to be announced - Kapoor tells you the inside story of the week's biggest political developments.
"The discussions at Kishor’s meeting with the Gandhi family were reportedly not about the Punjab and UP polls or joining the Congress, but a proposal for a broad political front for the presidential polls next year. Interestingly, Kishor is not just on friendly terms with most of the Opposition but also meets Prime Minister Modi to exchange notes. He has an invaluable asset for all political parties, viz computerised data on some 300-odd parliamentary constituencies in eight states."Coomi Kapoor in The Indian Express
Why Zomato IPO Is Reason For Cheer
In the finance and business world, the most talked-about development in the last couple of weeks is the Zomato IPO. In his weekly column for The Times Of India, Swaminathan Aiyar explain why this move signals a new era in India's economic history - one that we must all commend and cheer.
"Credit Suisse, using a broader definition of unicorns than most, estimates India has 100 unicorns. In 2021, an additional 16 start-ups have become unicorns. Ten new unicorns were created in 2019, 13 in 2020 (despite Covid), and almost three a month so far in 2021. Indians celebrating 30 years of economic reform must cheer this remarkable outcome. It denotes a new class of businesses with no great inherited wealth, connections to the political and social elite, dubious links with the mafia and corrupt politicians, or dependence on loans from public sector banks based on telephone calls from the Finance Ministry or PMO. These are the children of liberalisation, not of the wealthy."Swaminathan Aiyar in The Times Of India
Under The Weather, 24/7, 365 days
Wondering why the folks at IMD got the predictions for rains in Delhi terribly wrong for the longest time? Well, in this article for The Indian Express, K Sathi Devi, who heads IMD’s National Weather Forecasting Centre, explains how climate change has made monsoon patterns erratic, making weather forecasting very difficult. Read to know what goes behind making weather forecasts and how the IMD goes about its job.
"An Indian forecaster’s calendar has four parts — March to May (heat waves and cyclones); June to September (rain and floods); October to December (cyclones and rain); and finally, January-February (cold waves). We are duty-bound 24/7, 365 days of the year. The general public is now becoming more aware of the impact of weather and easy access to forecasts through phones has helped. The demand has prompted IMD to provide impact-based forecasts that inform people of a region how a weather event will affect them. There is also a growing demand for forecasts from specific sectors such as agriculture, disaster management, power, energy, and they all want fast, tailor-made forecasts now."K Sathi Devi in The Indian Express
Path To Striking Down Sedition Law Still Has Many Hurdles
The custodial death of Father Stan Swamy, an adivasi activist charged with the sedition law for his alleged involvement in the 2016 Bhima Koregaon incident, has led many to ask if the archaic law should now be done away with. In this guest piece for The Times Of India, lawyer Gautam Bhatia delineates the challenges facing the legislature and the judiciary before this law can be struck down.
"There is little doubt that the law of sedition, as it stands, is an invitation for State repression. The language of the Section (124A of IPC) is extremely broad, punishing “disaffection” or “hatred” of the government. In 1962, while upholding the constitutional validity of the section, the Supreme Court held that it could only be invoked where an individual was inciting public disorder. The court’s interpretation, however, was at war with the width of the section, and it is little surprise that when it comes to the filing of FIRs by the police and the consideration of bail by the first instance courts, this strained reading of the section is honoured more in the breach than in the observance."Gautam Bhatia in The Times Of India
The Sovereign Looks The Other Way
In his weekly column for The Indian Express, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram talks about the high inflation rates in the country and attributes them to the faulty taxation policies of the current union government.
"The sovereign is the Government of India. It has the sovereign’s power to wage war, forge peace, enter into international treaties and conventions, borrow money and, above all, create money. Creating money is minting coins or printing currency notes. Apart from the sovereign, there are bodies that are regarded as quasi-sovereigns for reasons that I shall not elaborate for want of space. Among them are the Central bank (RBI) and government-owned large banks (e.g., SBI). This preface is required because, in India, strangely, the quasi-sovereigns seem more concerned about an issue which has agitated the people, while the government seems to think that if it looked the other way, the issue will go away. I refer to inflation, the bugbear of all democratic governments."P Chidambaram in The Indian Express
The Political Drivers Of The Monsoon Session
The monsoon session of the Parliament is scheduled to begin on 19 July. In their column for The Hindustan Times, Chanakya explains why this session -one of the first full sessions since the pandemic - will be very crucial.
"In this overall context, it is instructive to examine the strengths, vulnerabilities, and strategies of both sides as they approach the session. Within the Opposition, there is both intensified cooperation and heated competition, with the singular objective of emerging as the primary voice against the Narendra Modi government. This cooperative-competitive impulse will play out in different ways."Chanakya in The Hindustan Times
Let’s Put Aside Vaccine Nationalism And Penny-Pinching. Mission 70% Is No. 1 Priority
In his article for The Times Of India, Chetan Bhagat says that while India's vaccination drive is not completely unhinged, it will not benefit anyone unless 70 percent of the population is vaccinated. That should be first priority, Bhagat says. Vaccine nationalism and politics on its costing can wait.
"Currently, just over 5.5% of the population has received both doses, while around 23% received the first dose. Of course, India’s numbers are huge on an absolute basis (370 million doses administered), but a lot more is needed to get to 70%. Enough evidence now exists (Israel, the UK, US) of countries showing a rapid decline in cases, particularly in serious cases and deaths once 70% of the population is given at least one jab. India’s cases are down right now, but we obviously cannot be complacent like February, when we thought we had beaten the coronavirus. Until we hit the 70% vaccination mark, the sword of the third, fourth, fifth wave continues to hang over our heads, especially since Indians aren’t very good at Covid precautions. Even the PM has expressed concern over maskless Indians recently swarming small hill stations (with minimal healthcare facilities). Indians are not and cannot be vaccinated for common sense. Hence, large-scale Covid vaccinations are the only way Indians can protect themselves. And it’s doable. If we can demonetise and swap every 500 rupee note; if we can get a billion Aadhar cards issued; we can surely get Mission 70% vaccination done too."Chetan Bhagat in The Times Of India
UP’s Population Policy Push Is Unwarranted
Is Uttar Pradesh's new population policy a boon or a policy disaster that does not take into account India's social context? In his column for The Hindustan Times, Mark Tully explains why it is more likely to be the latter than the former.
"There is the likelihood that taking these and other strict preventive measures will go wrong in the short-term and have disastrous long-term consequences. Because of the preference for boys, it can lead to female foeticide and infanticide. This will further increase the imbalance between men and women in the population. In UP, the ratio is more unbalanced than the national average, at 908 women to 1,000 men. There is also the possibility that the policy could be too successful, that the birth rate could fall too steeply, and that UP could lose the advantage of having a young population. The immediate consequence of this policy could be vigilantism and heavy-handed police intrusion into people’s private lives."Mark Tully in The Hindustan Times
Danish Siddiqui’s Work Mirrored Society’s Uncomfortable Truths
An asset to not just Indian journalism but journalism world-wide, Pulitzer-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed in Afghanistan while on assignment. In this piece for The Hindustan Times, his colleague and friend, Paroma Mukherjee, writes about what shaped the man who clicked some of the most iconic photographs of India's socio-political scenario in the past few years.
"Over the past few years, but especially in 2020 and then the summer of 2021, Siddiqui photographed some of the most evocative scenes from India’s migrant crisis, the Delhi riots as well as the deadly second wave of Covid-19 in the country. At a time when images are made in millions daily on smartphones, news photography is struggling as a standalone profession and the truth is a hard find in the media, Siddiqui’s work stuck to the rigour of good, old-fashioned photojournalism — tell it as it is."Paroma Mukherjee in The Hindustan Times
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