Enough electioneering, Prime Minister
Tavleen Singh, in her column for The Indian Express, underlines why Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been campaigning "relentlessly as if his life depended" on winning the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, must take a step back and focus on issues of national and global importance.
"The Prime Minister spends so much time campaigning for regional elections that he has taken to allowing inexperienced subordinates to speak about serious national issues. This diminishes his dream of making India (via him) a Vishwaguru again. Instead of coming closer to realizing this dream, we have moved further away from it in the past eight years because the Prime Minister has been so caught up campaigning for the BJP in every regional election. What is the point that he is seeking to make? Does he want to impress upon voters that it is only because of him that provincial elections are being won? Or does he want to prove that it is only because of him that the BJP has become what some call an electoral juggernaut?"Tavleen Singh, for The Indian Express
Delhi Needs Brave Political Action but Don't Hold Your Breath
In her piece for The Times of India, Mridula Ramesh dissects the Delhi government's 15-point action plan to fight air pollution, opining that some of the measures are only as good as "rearranging deck chairs on Titanic."
"When a home has no fancy air purifier, and the child has no gadget or data to connect to class, who bears the pain of shutting schools and who reaps the benefit? Banning waste burning, while effective, hurts the poorest, who have few other options for staying warm. Are we acting against only 'weak' polluters? Also, banning some things while letting others go (relatively) unpunished makes people less likely to follow rules overall."Mridula Ramesh, for The Times of India
Mukul Kesavan, for The Telegraph, argues that the term 'populist', conventionally defined as "a political position that invokes the people against a corrupt elite," must be retired. He reasons that 'populist' is often pressed into service to describe "dissimilar political figures and their movements," disregarding their obvious differences.
"To find an editorial or academic perch from which Lula and Modi (or Trump and Sanders) appear as two instances of a single tendency, two peas in a single categorical pod, suggests – a) a disabling distance from real life b) a commitment to definitions so abstract as to make ideology invisible or c) a mandarin centrism that makes the lumping together of campaigning redistributionists on the one hand and crusading supremacists on the other ideologically convenient."Mukul Kesavan, for The Telegraph
Blessed Are the Poor (but Not All)
P Chidambaram, in his column for The Indian Express, lays out the issues posed by the recent Supreme Court judgment on the 103rd Amendment of the Constitution – also known as the EWS reservation case – exploring the question of whether it would deny equality to the poorest of the poor.
"The crucial question is, whether Article 15(6) and Article 16(6) that exclude the poor among the SC, ST, and OBC from the new reservation are Constitutionally valid. On this issue, the Honourable Judges were divided 3:2. Mr Justice Ravindra Bhat wrote a powerful dissent in which Chief Justice Lalit concurred. His words, "Our Constitution does not speak the language of exclusion" will reverberate in the court halls of the Supreme Court for many years. In my view, the dissent is "an appeal to the brooding spirit of the law, to the intelligence of a future day, when a later decision may possibly correct the error" (per Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes)."P Chidambaram, for The Indian Express
Why Did Imran Survive the Assassin's Bullets?
In his piece for Deccan Chronicle, Pavan K Varma speculates why the recent assassination attempt on former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wasn't successful. He argues that Khan "miraculously escaped" the bullets owing to three factors – the growing backlash against the army, his rising popularity, as well as the poor state of economic affairs in Pakistan.
"Ideology means little in the transactional rough and tumble of Pakistani politics. But today, Imran's call for change seems to have the support of the people especially because of the worsening economic crisis within Pakistan. The Pakistan economy is in the ICU. The devastating floods earlier this year have taken a heavy toll. There is uncontrolled inflation, fuel prices are skyrocketing, the Pakistani rupee has plummeted, and there is a disabling energy crisis. The country is close to bankruptcy, dependent on the resumption of the International Monetary Fund's bail package of $7.2 billion, which, again, would require unpopular economic steps to be implemented."Pavan K Varma, for Deccan Chronicle
What India Needs To Do To Plug Its Defence Gap
Commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent Defence Expo in Gujarat, C Uday Bhaskar, for The Indian Express, explains how far India has come in attaining 'aatmanirbharata' (self-reliance) in the defence sector, and how far it must go to achieve "competence in design, manufacture of combat weapons/platforms."
"Regrettably, India does not yet have the domestic competence to fully design and manufacture any significant combat weapon/platform and is dependent on the foreign supplier for the critical components that lie at the core of the combat index of the equipment in question. Thus, while it is commendable that India is now going to manufacture the C295 transport aircraft in a collaboration with AirBus, France, the reality is that the engine, avionics, landing gear, etc, will come from abroad and the integration will be done by the Indian entity. This is true for almost every major platform in the three services."C Uday Bhaskar, for The Indian Express
For G20 To Be Relevant: A 5-Point Agenda
As world leaders are set to meet at the G20 Heads of State and Government Summit in Bali, Indonesia, next week, Shankkar Aiyar writes for The New Indian Express that the G20 must undergo systemic reforms to remain relevant amidst "climate change, the potential of pandemics, deglobalisation, the spectre of wars and a breakdown in the world order."
"...the G20 platform has scarcely leveraged the potential for the transformation awaited by billions – often it is mocked as a mute subsidiary of G7. Lacking ambition, it has languished in a valley of vapid verbiage. This week’s theme song in Bali is wrapped in the pious banner ‘recovering together, recovering stronger’. The focus areas -- Global Healthcare Architecture, Sustainable Energy Transition and Digital Transformation – are useful, but the promise is haunted by systemic global faultlines."Shankkar Aiyar, for The New Indian Express
Get Out of the Job Rut and Embrace a 'Portfolio Life'
Ravi Venkatesan, in his piece for The Times of India, explores the challenges in the employment sector at a time when Meta, Twitter, and other tech bigwigs are laying off employees, and advises youngsters on the need to look at the concept of 'work' differently.
"The advice I would give people who are in such situations is this: stop thinking about employment and quickly focus on becoming self-employed, a freelancer or possibly even an entrepreneur. Settling for a job should be your last option, not your default choice. A job is still a necessary way to get started professionally but in today’s tumultuous, uncertain world where we are living much longer, we will all need to learn to be independent and self-employed sooner rather than later. So don’t procrastinate; that's just postponing the inevitable."Ravi Venkatesan, for The Times of India
No Longer 'Minnows': T20 World Cup Shows Tier-2 Can Step Up
Eashan Ghosh, for The Times of India, talks about the "minnows" of the T20 World Cup this year and how the wins of the underdog teams are "affirming," in more ways than one.
"...T20 is a terrific antidote to this flavour of dread. The format is carefree by design. A healthy culture of pardoning failures is built into its foundations. It prioritises quick thinking and opportunism, which can be a massive equaliser. Competing against top opponents despite not having a domestic structure is unrealistic in most sports. T20, however, makes it viable."Eashan Ghosh, for The Times of India