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

We sifted through the papers to find the best opinion reads, so you won't have to.

7 min read
Nothing like a cup of coffee and your Sunday morning reads.

Sycophancy Causes Harm

Much has changed since Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event in Houston, writes Tavleen Singh in her column for The Indian Express, adding that this time Modi could find that “India is not seen as that beacon of democracy and hope that it was then.”

"If there was any doubt that the agenda of Modi’s second term was going to make life difficult for Muslims, it came when Covid was at first blamed on that congregation of Tablighi maulanas who gathered in Delhi for an event that had the written permission of the Home Ministry. Many foreign Muslims who came to attend this Islamic congregation spent months in jail on grounds so flimsy that Indian courts passed severe strictures against the officials who arrested them. When a government is seen to discriminate openly against a minority, its image suffers serious damage."
Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express

The Monk and His Cownstituency

Going over Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister’s latest ‘abbajaan’ comment, in her column for The Telegraph, Upala Sen argues how Ajay Mohan Bisht and his probable phobia of becoming likeable, makes him take “the extra effort to be perfectly offensive to one and all.”

"The semantics of his latest abbajaan comment is a many-barrelled offensive. At one level, it is of course levelled at Muslims. There might be in there an acerbic suggestion of stereotypical large families too guzzling ration. As to why he chooses abbajaan instead of ammijaan is possibly unadulterated chauvinism, but some may read into it a nod to patrilineality or a dismissal of the womb. At another level it is a pointed jibe at his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav and his progenitor. Some days ago in a television interview he had made a reference to Akhilesh Yadav’s “abbajaan”. This repeat reference then works as a dig at the SP regime, the father-son duo and their politics of appeasement."
Upala Sen in The Telegraph

Inequity and Injustice Writ Large

Arguing against the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), amid protests and student suicides in Tamil Nadu, veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram, in his column for The Indian Express, explains how, historically, when states used to regulate admissions to medical colleges, the standards and quality of education had improved over time.

"The case for asserting states’ rights is this: state government medical colleges are established using the money of the people of the state. They are intended, by and large, to admit the children of the people of that state and teach them medicine in English and, in course of time, in the state’s official language, which is the language of the vast majority of the people of the state. The graduating doctors are expected, by and large, to serve the people of that state, especially in the rural areas where healthcare was/is woefully inadequate. They are expected, by and large, to speak and prescribe and counsel the patients in their language."
P Chidambaram in The Indian Express

The Worth of Interpreting Plato

Recalling how “ambling along without a plan was perfectly acceptable” 25 years ago, Leher Kala, in her column for The Indian Express, examines the need for humanities and argues how it broadens our understanding of the world, and of the human experience.

"The problem is that in the chase for security, people are embarking on paths that set them up for less fulfilling lives. This trend of relentless self-optimisation disregards our fundamental need (to paraphrase Marie Kondo) to feel occasional bursts of joy."
Leher Kala in The Indian Express

She adds:

"No doubt, in a world beset by climate change, food shortages and inequality, it sounds embarrassingly self-indulgent to be focusing on, say, analysing the 14th century poet Chaucer, a big part of the coursework of an English Major. Certainly, it could be considered an elitist choice, if it wasn’t also true that many of the people choosing computer science and data analytics would probably opt for something else — if they had the financial freedom to broaden their interests instead of narrowing them. One must salute this generation’s hard-nosed practicality: bills need to be paid, first and foremost."

However, Kala argues, "We will always need the scholars who put the human experience in context, and continue asking questions of the world around us."

A Raja That Time Forgot, but Politics Will Not

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying the foundation stone for a state university named after Raja Mahendra Pratap, Mohammad Sajjad, in his column for The Indian Express, states that the recent interest in the Raja is not because of what he stood for, but rather for political gains, and reveals why the Raja was a “very unusual freedom fighter.”

"As a need was felt to raise the Indian demand on a global scale, on December 1, 1915, his birthday, the Raja announced a provisional Indian government-in-exile in Kabul. He was the President and fellow revolutionary Maulana Barkatullah the Prime Minister. This came to be known as the ‘Silk Letter Conspiracy’."
Mohammad Sajjad in The Indian Express

He adds:

"His plan was to form "an international socialist army for India’s freedom". He set up offices in Germany, and in Japan, met Rash Behari Bose and raised funds for him, particularly from Afghanistan and Turkey."

Across Groups, the Case for a Caste Census

“A caste census would be an opportunity to find out where we have gone wrong as a nation, what needs to be fixed, and where should the New India project begin”, writes Suraj Yengde, in his column for The Indian Express, making a case for the urgency of a caste census.

"Without having an econometric understanding, we cannot initiate policies or even parliamentary dialogues. The Department of Personnel and Training has no data of Brahmin, Baniya, Kshatriya in their hiring, and promotions. The 1931 Census under the British administration is the closest we have. We need to know the numbers of the beneficiaries of the caste system as well. Without this, the SC, ST census is akin to counting the protected species in a jungle."
Suraj Yengde in The Indian Express

August Office

Gopalkrishna Gandhi, dedicates his column for The Telegraph to the office of the chief minister in India, writing specifically about two chief ministers of Tamil Nadu – K Kamaraj, and CN Annadurai – for they are, “exemplars of the kind of statesmanship that chief ministership calls for.”

"Tamil Nadu was, for Kamaraj, like a goading medallion on his palm — a criss-cross of problems and of opportunities to solve them. A notable figure in local politics by the time he turned eighteen, Kamaraj had decided, irreversibly, to be a nationalist in the Congress’s Gandhi-Nehru mould, acquiring personal charisma from his uncompromising integrity, unwavering commitment and unflagging energy, which the nearly 3,000 days that he spent in the raj’s various jails only intensified. By the time he finished his last prison term under ‘Quit India’ in June 1945, Kamaraj was Tamil Nadu’s tallest leader after Rajaji whom he deinstalled from office and succeeded as the state’s chief minister in 1954. And what a formidable chief minister he made over three successive terms! Industrializing the state, strengthening its agricultural infrastructure and its educational sinews, he became for India’s national leaders, from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru down to other ‘provincial’ leaders like himself, Kamaraj-ji, the wise ‘Madrasi’, a concentrate of experience and understanding, a go-to person for party-crises, policy-choices, political strategies."
Gopalkrishna Gandhi in The Telegraph

State Must Remember Its Obligations and Duties to Constitution

Former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Dushyant Dave, in his column for The Indian Express, writes about a pattern of the last seven years which shows that only a select section of citizens, such as the Opposition, the minority community, activists, dissenters and the likes, have been acted against by the state and argues that “the Supreme Court must remind the state to act constitutionally, lawfully and justly in every case across the country.”

"For ensuring supremacy of the rule of law, the Constitution has assigned a special task to the judiciary. It is only through courts that rule of law unfolds its content and establishes its concept."
Dushyant Dave in The Indian Express

Dave further adds:

"Yet, the state is unstoppable. Because the courts, which are enjoined by the Constitution to ensure compliance of the rule of law, are not acting as authoritatively as the Constitution mandates. Or are acting too slow or too late. As a result, a “fear psychosis” is allowed to prevail in the country to prevent citizens from raising their voices and standing up against illegal, arbitrary and unjust laws or actions or inactions by the government of the day. The few who do muster courage to stand up and speak, the state preys on them. The judiciary must intervene with strong and far-reaching judgments to stop this trend."
Dushyant Dave in The Indian Express

Tombs of Holy Men

Explaining why and how shrines of holy men and women are found across India, Devdutt Pattanaik, in his column for Mid-Day, writes about how the burial sites of such men would be visited by people, “with the hope that his spiritual energy would bring them various benefits."

"Across India, when a very strong man died protecting the village from dacoits or cattle thieves, the place where he died or was cremated was marked by a veera stone, or a hero stone. This hero stone became the object of worship. Many people believe that the spirit of the warrior still existed at the site and could protect the village from future calamity."
Devdutt Pattanaik in Mid-Day

He adds:

"The idea of worshipping a holy man’s memorial is an ancient idea found in Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism and Islam. It is through this that many Indians access the divine. We often ignore this aspect of faith in India, in conversation. We assume that religion is always connected with the idea of God, when, in fact, it spreads through the body of holy men."
Edited By :Saundarya Talwar
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