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.

6 min read

A Public Flogging

In her weekly piece for The Indian Express, Tavleen Singh, in the context of the recent public flogging in Gujarat, laments the application of "jungle justice" against Indian Muslims. She writes that the public flogging sends many disturbing messages, such as the state's total disregard for the rule of law, the state's desire to humiliate (and not just punish) Indian Muslims, and the deafening silence of the "mighty Indian media" around all of this.

"When those who swear an oath to preserve it (rule of law) fail to do this, they become criminals. When people cheer them on, they show that they have no problem with the rule of law being replaced by the law of the jungle. At least for Muslims. It is hard to imagine Hindus being flogged publicly just as it is hard to imagine Hindu homes being demolished by bulldozers as punishment for public violence. The other disturbing message the flogging sends is that the police wanted to make it clear to Muslims that they would not hesitate to humiliate them publicly."
Tavleen Singh for the Indian Express

In the Congress Poll, Did Tharoor Get Used?

Writing about the Congress party's upcoming internal elections, veteran journalist Karan Thapar, in his article for the Hindustan Times, expresses his discomfort at the possibility of Shashi Tharoor being "used" by the Gandhi family. He insinuates that the other candidate, Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the favorite to win the contest, was always going to win and ensuring Tharoor's candidature could have been the Gandhis' ploy to make the election appear credible.

"Have the Gandhis made use of him? By giving the assurance that they would not field a favourite candidate, they ensured Tharoor would contest. They knew his doing so would make the election credible and greatly enhance the media’s interest. The party would benefit from all of that. Without his participation, it would be a very different story. So, did they mislead him to use him? Have they used the façade of credibility Tharoor provided as an opportunity to push through their chosen man?"
Karan Thapar for the Hindustan Times

Under Siege

The renowned historian, Ramachandra Guha, in his column for The Telegraph, slams the Indian state for its "attacks on intellectual freedom in recent years." To further his argument, he uses findings across six categories, that is, cases of

  • Books being withdrawn from university syllabi

  • Seminars being cancelled or disrupted by the authorities

  • Criminal charges being brought against faculty and students

  • Physical attacks against faculty and students

  • Professors not being allowed to take up teaching jobs or having to forcibly resign because of political pressure

  • Foreign scholars being stopped from entering India or speaking at academic conferences

"What is being done with our IITs and IIMs is symptomatic of a much wider trend, whereby the State seeks systematically — and often ruthlessly — to control, manipulate and direct how students and professors in Indian universities act and think. Free thought and open debate are discouraged and sometimes even prohibited. Instead, conformity to the ideological and political agenda of the prime minister and the ruling party is asked for."
Ramachandra Guha for The Telegraph

Whistling in the Dark

Congress Party leader P Chidambaram, in his data-driven column for The Indian Express, lists three parameters under which he wants readers to assess the Modi government's economic performance — inflation, current account deficit, and the Rupee-Dollar exchange rate. He also offers "a slice of history" by providing the numbers for all three indicators at the end of 2013-14, which is when the UPA government lost power.

"The estimated average of 7 per cent appears impressive but the truth lies not in the average but in the trend line: note that in quarter after quarter, the growth rate will decline. UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) has a gloomy forecast of 5.7 per cent for 2022 and 4.7 per cent for 2023. There are parallels. Since demonetization in 2016, the annual growth rates in 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 were 8.26, 6.80, 6.53, 4.04 and -7.25."
P Chidambaram for the Indian Express

China's Party Congress is Significant for India, World

Former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran writes in the Hindustan Times that the Communist Party of China's five-year party Congress on 16 October should be watched closely by India and the world, given the "challenging domestic and external environment" for the country and its leader Xi Jinping. He goes on to list some of these challenges, such as supply chain disruptions and the property sector crisis that are adversely impacting the economy, and the deterioriating relationship between China and the West.

"Xi has been trying to assert his leadership by conveying both confidence in achieving the 'great rejuvenation' of the Chinese nation and also drawing attention to the greater struggles that lie ahead. Both, he seems to suggest, require the unquestioned leadership of the party with himself as the 'core' and now the helmsman. India should monitor the party Congress carefully because it will contain important clues to the domestic and external policy direction we may expect in the next several years. However, judging by the rhetoric leading up to the Congress, one does not expect a shift that may augur a more benign phase in India-China relations."
Shyam Saran for the Hindustan Times

Economists Opposing Govt Support to Manufacturing Are Wrong 

Dipankar Gupta, a former professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, argues in the Times of India that it is the growth of the manufacturing sector that would "create an advanced service sector that is ready to keep step without a pebble in the shoe." He asserts that the manufacturing base must be strengthened because this is where "product innovations and differentiation first take place."

"International experience tells us that only after the manufacturing sector takes off and reaches a certain saturation level that quality and skills begin to characterise the service sector. This is what happened in the West, in Europe and the US, and this is what happened in the East, in South Korea and Japan."
Dipankar Gupta for the Times of India

Kings, Queens, Pawns and Intrigue — All in 64 Squares

Sports columnist Sandeep Dwivedi, in his piece for the Indian Express, uses the Magnus Carlsen-Hans Niemann cheating controversy to provide a little history about Chess while simultaneously pointing out the "cloak-and-dagger air" about the game. He writes about how the Soviets were encouraged to pursue Chess as a game of logic and reasoning in order to "wean them away from religion," and even narrates an exciting tale about the time when two Soviet grandmasters — an insider and a defector — faced off in 1978.

"Chess would become more than a game after 1948, with the end of World War II. During the Cold War, the ancient game would turn into a geo-political tool. For the two nations with nuclear stockpiles of apocalyptic proportion — Communist USSR vs Capitalist USA —chess face-offs were an inexpensive and less-catastrophic form of war."

Decoding the Russian Gameplan in Ukraine

Mark Tully, in his article for the Hindustan Times, tries to deconstruct "Putin’s game" in Ukraine, as the war completes 227 days. Given that the Russian president wrongly believed that the invasion of Ukraine would be a walkover, Tully tries to analyse Putin's options to tackle a military that recently regained territory in the east, is high on morale, and is constantly receiving military aid from the West.

"Despite widespread international condemnation of the referendums, Putin recently held a solemn ceremony in the Kremlin, announcing the annexation of the four regions. In an admission of the inadequacies demonstrated by the Russian army in Ukraine, Putin has instituted compulsory recruitment. A senior Russian military officer claimed that the army has called up 200,000 of the 300,000 men they need. Still, queues for transport out of Russia are evidence of the widespread unwillingness of men to be recruited."
Mark Tully for the Hindustan Times

Is the World Heading Into Another Recession?

Writing for the Deccan Chronicle, former union minister Manish Tewari argues that the prospect of a global recession similar to the 2008 one seems increasingly likely. He also points out how the deteriorating global economic situation is impacting India, with the single biggest challenge to the country's banking system being the "Rs. 8.58 lakh crores owed to various Scheduled Commercial Banks by borrowers, with the bulk of the money being owed by India’s largest corporate houses."

"Macroeconomic instability is bound to impact living standards and increase poverty. Multiple crises in the last five years have led to massive food insecurity, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Already, 53 countries around the world face acute food shortages with projections expecting the situation to get worse. In a de-globalising world reeling under the shocks of a pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, it is difficult to see nations coming together to revive the global economy that has reached an inflection point, chock-full with inflationary pressures and supply chain disruptions."
Manish Tewari for the Deccan Chronicle
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