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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.

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Ifs and Buts About Simultaneous Polls

Elucidating the pros and cons of One Nation, One Election, Karan Thapar, in his column in Hindustan Times, reflects on three aspects of the concept – its desirability, "the implications of implementing it, and the consequences that could follow." He appeals to citizens to weigh the concerns and ask themselves – "is it worth it?"

"The arguments against [One Nation, One Election] are philosophical. Voting, it's said, "is the most fundamental freedom of expression in a democracy." One Nation, One Election puts limits on that right. For instance, if a government loses its majority, ways might be found to keep Parliament functioning, denying voters the right to elect a new one."
Karan Thapar, in his colum in Hindustan Times
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Style, Substance, and Slippery ice

P Chidambaram, in his column in The Indian Express, writes about the recently concluded G20 Summit in Delhi, opining that while it was meticulously marketed and had "lofty pronouncements," India is "nowhere near the top of the Group of 20 ... in terms of per capita income, Human Development Index, labour force participation rate (LFPR), Global Hunger Index, and some other parameters."

"India claimed – and the media faithfully reported – that it had acquired a pre-eminent status among the G20 countries and India’s Presidency in 2023 was a historical event. India also claimed that this status was due to its exceptional economic performance and the stewardship of the prime minister. Everyone knows that the G20 Presidency is not won through competitive bidding or in a race-to-the-winning-post. The Presidency goes by rotation. Next will be Brazil (2024), followed by South Africa (2025) and a new cycle will begin in 2026 with the United States."
P Chidambaram, in his column in The Indian Express
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Does Modi Really Want Bharat, Sanatan Dharma?

As the name-change and Sanatana Dharma controversies rage on, Kingshuk Nag, in his piece in Deccan Herald, writes that these issues could be "perceived as an exercise of the BJP and the central government to ram through North Indian names, ideas, and concepts in South India," now that they have "lost access" to the south after the Karnataka Assembly elections.

"A day after Udhayanidhi's statement, the President of Bharat's invitation to dinner for delegates to the G-20 summit overtook the controversy surrounding the Tamil Nadu minister's utterances. The matter is now poised to acquire a more serious dimension with widespread condemnation by the Opposition on the usage of Bharat as the name of the country. But Prime Minister Modi seems to be serious on the subject, although he has cautioned against everybody jumping into the 'Bharat versus India' controversy. This is seen as a sign that Modi is sensitive about the subject and would not want needless controversies with all and sundry holding forth on it."
Kingshuk Nag, in his piece in Deccan Herald
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Andolans Are at the Heart of Knowledge, Creativity, and Politics

In light of a post on X (formerly Twitter) by Sanjeev Bhikchandani – the co-founder of Ashoka University – criticising student politics, Peter Ronald DeSouza writes for The Indian Express that "andolans" in universities would only heighten their legacy. He further opined that Bhikchandani's understanding of the role of "andolans" in human history is "very narrow."

"His public statements only show the arrogance of an owner and not that of a trustee. Andolans are at the heart of human creativity. They emerge from dissent and develop into movements against any order whether it is philosophical, scientific, technological, cultural or political. The sexual revolution that liberated women and sexual minorities was an andolan. As was the human rights movement. In our time, the climate change protests by Greta Thunburg are an andolan."
Peter Ronald DeSouza writes for The Indian Express
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Class Ceiling: Mocking a Neta's Cultural Gaffes Only Betrays Our Own Insecurities

Sandip Roy, in his piece in The Times of India, opines that Indians laughing at their netas for their "apparent lack of cosmopolitan sophistication" – whether it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi and toasting etiquette or West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee jogging in Spain – is meaningless, as they "they have nothing to do with intellect or ideas" and are part of a "class warfare."

"Class is our great willful blind spot. Indians who take pains to tell foreigners that caste prejudice is eroding in modern India also live blissfully in apartment complexes where notices indicate that domestic help should not hang out in common areas and service staff should take separate elevators."
Sandip Roy, in his piece in The Times of India
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A Billion Voters #2024Elections: X, Y, and W factors

With India set to conduct the largest-ever general elections in the world in 2024, Shankkar Aiyar, in his piece in The New Indian Express, unpacks the major voting trends, as "an estimated one billion Indians – in a population of 1.431 billion – will be eligible to exercise their democratic right."

"The Y factor in 2024 would be the youth vote. It is estimated that over 90 million new voters will be eligible next year. Both the Congress and the BJP are wooing the youth because the Y factor matters. The BJP's victory in 2014, the first majority mandate in 25 years, was powered by youth aspirations and Narendra Modi's presentation of the Gujarat model. The 2019 mandate was fuelled by the notion of a decisive government. It is true that pride matters – and the G20 and Chandrayaan successes would catalyse sentiments – there is no disputing aspiration."
Shankar Aiyar, in his piece in The New Indian Express
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How Not To Reform Criminal Code

Menaka Guruswamy, in her piece in The Indian Express about the new Bill tabled in Parliament to overhaul India's criminal laws, opines that the proposed changes to the CrPC "enables the seizure of movable and immovable assets as 'proceeds of crime' ... without any of the necessary procedural safeguards." She adds that this may result in the "persecution of the accused, poor investigation by agencies, and fewer convictions by courts."

"...the current law reform effort by the State is at odds with established legislative practice of having separate and distinct harsh "special statutes" with procedural checks and balances. This current effort shows that special laws are being absorbed into general criminal law – without any of the necessary procedural safeguards. When this happens, it enables the use and abuse of attachment of property powers by the State."
Menaka Guruswamy writes for The Indian Express
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Read the Preamble, but Also Live It

Ashwin Mahesh, in his piece in Deccan Herald, opines that while the Opposition parties have positioned themselves as "constitutionalists" by promoting the reading out of the Constitution of India in public spaces, the country has a long way to go when it comes to living by the principles of the document.

"Adherence and loyalty to the Constitution is a mandatory starting point for all of us, in any case. Making a special claim to it for oneself is a positioning strategy in the political arena. Which is alright. Parties do things like that all the time to get the attention of the public. But it is advertising, not the product. The original case is for citizenship of free people and for representative governments elected to serve them. This is the real metric on which we should be basing our claims."
Ashwin Mahesh, in his piece in Deccan Herald
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Our Ageing Stars Are Not Fading Yet

Namrata Joshi, in her piece in The New Indian Express, writes on the success of Jawan, Jailer, and the likes, opining that while actors like Shah Rukh Khan were "summarily dismissed as fading stars, this comeback itself becomes the stuff of mass cinema." She adds that the films' strategic appeal to the youth is one factor that is driving their strong return to the box office.

"The 'Zinda Banda' anthem is another of SRK's ways of asserting his far-from-old stardom. As is his conscious attempt to pull out an ageing colleague – Salman in Pathaan and Sanjay Dutt in Jawan – to underscore the solidarity with them in their evergreen, never-say-die star appeal. SRK's overt political statements aside, you can't get away from his messaging on dotage and reinventing a supposedly fading stardom."
Namrata Joshi writes for The New Indian Express
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Topics:  Opinion   Sunday View   G20 summit 

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