A Congress Revival?
Against the backdrop of the Himachal Pradesh results, Tavleen Singh opines on the chances of a Congress revival in her column for The Indian Express.
Keeping the next general elections in mind, she writes that the bigger questions are yet to be answered, such as the role that Rahul Gandhi wants to play in the future, and whether he plans to lead the party into the general election.
The results from Himachal prove that the Congress Party can still win elections if it wants to, and that these elections can be won without the ‘charisma’ of the Dynasty. This is a good sign. But there is work to be done if the Congress Party is to be in any shape to offer Modi a real challenge in 2024. Under Modi, the BJP has become an electoral machine in which every screw is constantly scrutinised and kept oiled and ready.Tavleen Singh for The Indian Express
What the Fuss Over a Film Revealed About Our Society
In a satirical piece in Hindustan Times, Karan Thapar comments on how Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid’s critique of The Kashmir Files revealed “disturbing, even, distressing facets of our society”. He writes that Lapid’s honest criticism was misinterpreted as an “insult to the memory of the dead”.
We want the International Film Festival of India to be recognised as one of the world’s best. If that is to happen, we know we must scrupulously ensure the highest artistic and aesthetic quality of the films it features. So why was The Kashmir Files chosen? For its merit? Or because it appealed to the ideological bent of our ruling party? Ensuring a window to the world for a tragedy that’s been ignored obliterated all consideration of the fact that this movie does not show our film industry at its best.Karan Thapar for Hindustan Times
The BJP’s Hindu Rainbow
In their piece on The Hindu, Bhanu Parmar and Devesh Kumar analyse how the BJP garnered support “among all the communities with the exception of Muslims”. They write that even though there were minor variations among caste groups, the party was able to “forge a truly ‘Hindu’ rainbow coalition with all the Hindu communities”.
Moreover, several caste-backed social organisations, including the OBC organisations spearheaded by Alpesh Thakor, the Patidar agitation led by Hardik Patel, and the Dalit movement led by Jignesh Mevani, have further ensured that caste remains relevant. These agitations had dented the BJP’s winning proportion in 2017 and brought down the number of seats to less than 100. This time, the BJP ensured that many of these organisations and their leaders support it and even get tickets. This move placated the concerned communities and benefited the BJP.Bhanu Parmar and Devesh Kumar for The Hindu
Rays of Sunshine
Writing for The Indian Express, P Chidambaram questions what the victory of three parties in three different elections means for the country. He writes that in certain situations, incumbency has turned out to be a “strength than a weakness”.
He maintains that the recent election results hold lessons for both the winners and losers. However, a common lesson was that the winners had “a strong party organisation, dedicated cadres, a spirited campaign and micro-management".
In my view, a strange peace and silence has descended on Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Is it, as John Kennedy observed presciently, “the peace of the grave and the silence of the slave”? I sincerely hope it is not so. Dissent is suppressed by the State and practically blanked out by the media. If these trends lead to an eerie silence and peace, it will mean that we are hastening the day when India will be an electoral democracy but not a Constitutional democracy.P Chidambaram for The Indian Express
Supreme Court on Charity and Conversion: The Answer May Lie in the Words of Mahatma Gandhi
In his piece for The Indian Express, Tahir Mahmood succinctly points out how the Supreme Court’s recent observation that the intention of charity cannot be conversion, is “loaded with significant implications”. He throws light on the provisions of the Constitution relating to people’s fundamental right to freedom of religion.
He says that the charity-conversion nexus that the court has shown concern over, cannot “be flatly brushed aside as something totally imaginary”.
The great Mahatma had also once said: “If I had power and could legislate I should stop all proselytising” (Harijan, 1935). Had the power the Father of the Nation was longing for been duly conferred on him, today the nation could have been largely free from communal tensions resulting from the Achilles’ heel of conversion from the majority religion of the country to any other faith.Tahir Mahmood for The Indian Express
Expand the Food Safety Net Without Any More Delay
Due to the delays in the 2021 census, population increase has not been accounted for in determining the number of ration cards, points out Reetika Khera in her piece for The Hindu. While the court had taken this into account and suggested the use of population projections, the government sidestepped this. She asks for quicker intervention as many people have fallen out of the safety net.
Instead of allowing the Government to delay this any further (the matter has been in Court since 2020), the Supreme Court should be firm, directing the Government to get on with apportioning the additional coverage of roughly 100 million across States, so that the States can start identifying new ration card beneficiaries. Poor people should have to not pay the price for the state’s failure in conducting the 2021 Census.Reetika Khera for The Hindu
In Collegium Debate, Speed, Transparency Key Concerns
In a piece on Deccan Chronicle, Pavan K. Varma questions whether fresh attempt are being made to curb judicial autonomy, or whether the judicial process needs reform.
He writes in context of Jagdeep Dhankhar’s maiden speech in Parliament, where the VP expressed outrage at the overruling of the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act by the Supreme Court.
An independent judiciary is the last bulwark for citizens at the receiving end of an arbitrary, vindictive and undemocratic State. Its independence must be guaranteed. The Parliament has the right to pass laws, but the checks and balances so carefully worked out in the Constitution, empowers the judiciary to examine whether they militate against the basic structure of the Constitution. But both the government and the judiciary must also spare a thought for ordinary citizens, for whom a paramount concern is that justice delayed is justice denied.Pavan K. Varma for Deccan Chronicle
Some Lessons from The Protests in China Over Covid Lockdowns
Has Beijing’s zero-Covid policy resulted in an economic downturn, questions Menaka Guruswamy in her column for The Indian Express. With Xi Jinping changing his mind about zero-Covid amidst protests and mass demonstrations, she opines that quarantining people from each other is not a viable long-term solution.
Chinese people are likely fatigued from the many long lockdowns and repetitive mandatory testing that they have endured over the past three years of the pandemic. While the rest of the world has since moved on from lockdowns to removing most restrictions, China has continued as if in the early period of the onset of Covid. Its borders are still closed to most foreigners and the infected till recently were being forced to move into quarantine camps, far away from their families. There has been a huge economic cost to these measures.Menaka Guruswamy for The Indian Express
With PT Usha at its Helm, My Huge Hopes for IOA
As PT Usha becomes the first woman president of the Indian Olympic Association, Jwala Gutta hails the development in her piece for Hindustan Times. While she believes that Usha can make a difference as a woman, she also acknowledges that it is a "tough line to walk".
While it is important for a sportsperson to be heading IOA, only an equal blend of sportspersons and administrators can make the organisation function effectively. It is a sportsperson’s expertise coupled with the political and analytical thinking of an administrator that can lead to a well-rounded association.Jwala Gutta for Hindustan Times
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