Politicians Can’t Stomp on Constitutional Rights
In his column for the Hindustan Times, journalist and author Karan Thapar scrutinises a recent statement made by Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel on making parental consent mandatory in love marriages. He argues that such a decision would breach constitutional guarantees, making India the "stepmother of democracy."
"Does it occur to any of these good men and women that they regularly appeal to women for votes, and would vehemently dismiss any argument that at that young age, they’re not mature enough to decide who should rule them, yet believe that an 18-year-old can’t marry of her own choice and volition without daddy’s consent? In these matters, mummys are, usually, secondary, if they count at all."Karan Thapar, for Hindustan Times
Congress leader P Chidambaram, in his piece for The Indian Express, zeroes in on three bills that were passed in the Monsoon Session of Parliament, demonstrating how they are examples of "using parliamentary legislation to impose a centralised and authoritarian model of government." Specifically, he criticises The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, The Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, and The GNCTD (Amendment) Bill as legislative excesses "that must be undone in the future."
"Unfortunately, democratically-elected parliaments have begun to copy authoritarian parliaments. And pass laws that may or may not pass the test of legality. Such laws, in my view, certainly do not pass the test of legitimacy. A recent example of a legislation lacking in legitimacy is the Bill passed by Israel's parliament (Knesset) restricting the power of the courts to review the validity of laws made by parliament."P Chidambaram, for The Indian Express
The Nationalist's Economic Argument Against Hate
In light of the communal violence in Haryana, former diplomat and politician Pavan K Varma writes in Deccan Chronicle that religious divisiveness not only comes at great social costs but also carries grave threats to economic activity. He highlights how it is futile to apportion blame between warring religious communities and calls for finding a middle ground where civilised discussion, debate, and resolution can take place, for our own self-interest.
"What is happening in India cannot be hidden from the world. The reach of the global media and the ubiquitous presence of social media flashes news in any part of the world everywhere. This is especially so for India, which as an emerging major power, with the world’s fastest growing economy, and a huge market, is constantly under observation. With China in bad odour and relative economic decline, India is being looked to as an alternative destination for foreign investors. This is the time to take advantage of this situation, not jeopardise it."Pavan Varma, for Deccan Chronicle
Playing Ketchup: We Must Adapt To Tackle Climate-Driven Tomato Crisis
In her piece for The Times of India, climate and water expert Mridula Ramesh addresses the challenges of tomato growing. She identifies climate change-induced weather disturbances like heatwaves and floods as reasons for the abnormal tomato prices, while offering future solutions such as processing more tomatoes into purees and paste.
"Irregular rainfall, intense rainfall, landslides, heatwaves, pest attacks – all fingerprints of climate change – are expected to become more common going forward. We must adapt, as the climate will continue to change. Other factors – low yield, too many middlemen, tomato rot, damage and loss between farm and fork – only serve to expose tomato production even further to the talons of a wayward climate, increasing price volatility. Streamlining the supply chain, like some startups are doing, would help. Substituting the finicky tomato with our native, hardier-by-far tamarind, as many are doing, can also help."Mridula Ramesh, for The Times of India
A Harvest of Hate
Columnist Tavleen Singh, in The Indian Express, writes about the communally charged atmosphere in the country, evident through the incidents of violence that struck Haryana and an armed railway policeman shooting Muslims dead. She argues that using hatred as a political weapon comes with a price, which India is beginning to pay.
"The problem with hatred is that it is hard to confine. So the violence from Nuh spread like wildfire to Haryana's shining commercial jewel Gurugram. Violent angry mobs managed to locate a small mosque in the forest of tall, glass buildings that define this city and killed a young Imam while destroying the mosque. Gurugram is where foreign investors come to set up offices and find fancy residential apartments, but will they not look elsewhere in times to come?"Tavleen Singh, for The Indian Express
The Taxing Life of Solopreneurs
Writing for The New Indian Express, author Anuradha Goyal discusses the trials and tribulations of solopreneurs when it comes to navigating the complexities of the Indian tax system. She highlight issues such as discrepancies in tax deducted at source (TDS) records, the burden of advance tax payments, and the lack of tailored benefits for tax-paying citizens.
"Solopreneurs or small entrepreneurs are on no one’s priority list. We do not have an organised agency representing us at the finance ministry. It is impossible to organise, as freelancers and small service providers work in such vast domains that putting them under one umbrella is difficult. They mostly work from home or in small offices. Secondly, as small entrepreneurs, they end up doing everything themselves, from marketing to execution to accounting, leaving them little time and energy to go networking beyond what is required for their core work."Anuradha Goyal, for The New Indian Express
Standarising Feet Size: New Feet Size Takes on India's Pedigeopolitics
In his column for Economic Times, journalist and author Indrajit Hazra provides a tongue-in-cheek commentary on Union Minister Piyush Goyal's announcement that India will soon be coming up with its very own sizing chart for footwear 'suited to local needs'. He reasons that the decision is likely "more about changing the British colonial mindset," seeing as the government is on a decolonisation mission.
"But if we are indeed going on a 'decol' spree, why stop at the feet of the people? Union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari surely knows that having the steering wheel on the right side of cars in India, and driving on the left side of the road, is a slavish practice handed down to us from British India/Morris Oxford times. But swapping it pronto to left-sided steering wheels and driving on the right of the road may, indeed, be construed as suddenly imitating the Yanks, especially when India is doing a great job of balancing on the geopolitical front."Indrajit Hazra, for Economic Times
India’s Green Regulation Has Entered a New Era
In her piece for Hindustan Times, environment journalist Jayashree Nandi traces the tumultuous relationship between the government and India's lush forests. She believes that the passage of two new bills – the Forest Conservation (Amendment) Bill 2023 and the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill – by Parliament has transformed environmental legislation in India for the fourth time in history.
"The laws etch the contours of a new era in environmental regulation where ease of doing business, development projects, and national security and strategic concerns will take centre stage, tilting the balance of power firmly towards the government and mega projects. Yet, there is one big unknown that can upset all calculations — the climate crisis."Jayashree Nandi, for Hindustan Times
The Many Ways of Seeing
Writing for The Indian Express, film director Leher Kala weighs in on the controversy sparked by philanthropist Sudha Murthy's remark that she carries her own food and utensils while travelling abroad – on account of being a pure vegetarian. Kala criticises the online outrage mob for being too quick to judge but also admits that Murthy's comment reeked of sanctimoniousness.
"Murthy's virtue signalling is the default setting of our times. There's a holier-than-thou mentality perpetually on display on social media. We all want to be good but more importantly, we want to be seen as being good. It's a valiant aim, except human beings are a bundle of messy contradictions ruled by quirks and idiosyncrasies."Leher Kala, for The Indian Express