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
Hindi Female

Cult Over Cricket

Writing about Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepting a portrait of himself in the Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad, Mukul Kesavan, in his piece for The Telegraph, underlines the “heroic lack of consciousness” presented in the spectacle surrounding the India-Australia Test match. It was attended by both PM Modi and Australian PM Anthony Albanese.

Kesavan writes:

“The nexus between cricket and politicians is business as usual in India. What was new in this instance was the appropriation of a Test match in a way that made the contest incidental, that treated cricket as wallpaper for a photo-op…The Modi-Albanese show was marked by a heroic lack of self-consciousness. The strangeness of two grown men being ferried about in a gimcrack rath doesn’t seem to have struck the organisers. After the event, journalists wrote about other leaders who had had stadia named after them during their time in office, amongst them, Recep Erdogan, Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-un. What these figures from very dissimilar places and political systems had in common was a talent for dissolving the autonomy of institutions in the service of a cult of personality.”

Change the Playbook Please 

Responding to the “sneers and jeers” about the “lap of honour” by the Indian and Australian PMs in the Narendra Modi stadium, Tavleen Singh, in her column for The Indian Express, writes, “If Modi can be criticised for anything, it is that he has done nothing to change the Congress playbook he inherited.”

Underlining that journalists are punished today as they were punished earlier, that political opponents are raided today as they were raided earlier, Singh stresses on the need for the Congress party to revive itself as “democracy is seriously damaged when there is no opposition party.”

She adds:

“The circus we saw in the cricket stadium last week has happened before many, many times. If Rahul Gandhi wants the political party he inherited to revive, then he needs to reinvent it. He also needs to discover as soon as possible that if he wants to give Congress half a chance in next year’s general election, he must do more than just attack Modi.”

Sunak Bets on Islamic Scare Vote

Dissecting the motives and reasons for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s new Illegal Migration Bill, Prabhu Chawla, in his piece for The New Indian Express, writes:

“The West has none to blame except itself for allowing its fake liberal ethos to destroy its identity integrity. But their doublespeak diplomacy has been historically established...Now when the whites are facing the brunt of cultural corruption and economic chaos from infiltrators, they regret their past to save their future. India had warned them of the exodus of dilution and desperation. A nation must put its identity first over politically correct balderdash to be part of the league of prosperity. The lazy whites, exhausted by World War II, clung to the mirage of colonial supremacy and let in millions of migrant labourers from Asia and Africa to rebuild Britain and Europe. Now that the sun has set on the Empire, "No immigrants and dogs are allowed" seems to be a slogan that Sunak and his counterparts are bandying about to save their skin. It comes a tad too late.”

The ‘Ides of March’ Rattle Global Markets

In his piece for The New Indian Express, Shankkar Aiyar, writes about the collapse and shut down of the start-up-focused Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and its impact on the global markets.

Aiyar writes:

“The rising cost of money impairs the ability of venture capital funds in the US and elsewhere. This has implications for India’s start-up ecosystem. The evolution of a start-up into a unicorn rests on the business model but also critically on the sequential glide path for funding to grow into a sustainable entity. Already there are growing signs of what is dubbed as “desertification” of funding which have triggered fears of zombie start-ups. The fall in valuations and stock markets also deters exits for funds – and this is exacerbated by the poor post-IPO record of start-ups…At a macro level the emerging high-cost low growth spectre impacts global consumption and therefore trade, foreign direct investment and portfolio flows is manifest. This could get worse if the episodes in the US financial markets trigger a contagion.”

Rethinking the Indus Civilisation

Stating that “it is time our history books reveal the truth,” Nanditha Krishna, in her column for The New Indian Express, raises several questions about the Indus and Harappan civilisation and writes,

“It is time to rethink the Harappan civilisation, a culture with much archaeology but little literature. Vedic culture is all literature, and no material remains – is it possible? The Vedas speak of copper, not iron, making it a Bronze Age civilisation like Harappa. The Vedic civilisation was riverine and agricultural, like the Harappan. The Early Harappan Period lasted from 3300 to 2900 BCE, the Mature period from 2900 to 1900 BCE and the Late Harappan from 1900 to 1500 BCE. By 1000 BCE, the Painted Grey-Ware of the Mahabharata period had appeared, so the Vedas would have to be much earlier. The Vedas do not speak of any homeland outside India. The two civilisations were contemporary, probably the same, for Meluhan Sanskrit in Mesopotamia is compelling evidence.”

Putting Lipstick on the Numbers

Reminded of former United States President Barack Obama’s phrase, “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig,” P Chidambaram, in his column for The Indian Express, writes about how the “Establishment” is putting lipstick on rather “depressing numbers.” 

He writes:

"I was reminded of the phrase when I heard the spin that government officers put on the NSO’s estimates on India’s national income released on 28 February 2023. Numbers do not lie, interpretations of the numbers lie — as we found in the weeks following the presentation of Budget 2023-24… It is disappointing that the RBI has joined the cheerleaders. According to the RBI’s February bulletin, the Indian economy will “decouple from macroeconomic projections of current vintage and also from the rest of the world” — whatever that purple prose means. Further, according to the RBI, the Budget for 2023-24 is “the instrument of decoupling and raising India’s growth prospects.” This is from the RBI that finds itself unable to decouple from the US Federal Reserve System (the Fed) on monetary policy!”

Long Live Humanities

Adding on to the age-old debate between STEM versus humanities, Nigam Nuggehalli, in his column for The Indian Express, writes, “Are the humanities dead? Anecdotal evidence suggests that STEM is king and anything to do with the social and cultural aspects of human affairs are mere hobby horses.”

However, he adds that humanities may be dead but it might be “rebirthing in other forms.” Stating how concepts of fairness and responsibility exist when dealing with technology and AI, Nuggehalli writes:

“We will require a big tent interdisciplinary approach and people with humanities skills will flourish in such ecosystems. But what are these skills exactly? An ability to be creative and imaginative. A talent for communicating effectively with different audiences. Possessing advanced interpersonal skills. The humanities are much better placed to impart these skills compared to the hard sciences. Perhaps an appropriate response to the question ‘Is the humanities dead’ is probably that the question is a bit hyperbolic. Traditional humanities might be out of fashion for now , but will take forms that will make the domain relevant to a new generation.”

Two Anti-Caste Revolts, a Shared Inheritance

Remembering the 1823 Channar Revolt and the 1924 Vaikom Satyagraha as two anti-caste movements that changed the course of history for the Travancore kingdom, Amrith Lal, in his column for The Indian Express, writes:

“It is in this historical context that the camaraderie between (CM Pinarayi) Vijayan and (CM MK) Stalin becomes a reflection of political solidarity and inheritance. Their homes, the Dravidian Movement and the Communist Party, were built on ground prepared by the anti-caste movements of the 19th and 20th century. One of the leaders of the Vaikom Satyagraha was Periyar EV Ramaswamy, who arrived in the temple town as a Congress volunteer. He returned as an anti-caste crusader and radically transformed politics in the Tamil region. Vaikom inspired the Guruvayur temple entry movement in 1931. Two young Congress workers who came to the limelight as part of it were P Krishna Pillai and AK Gopalan. Both became founding leaders of the Communist Party in Kerala.”

Shah of North-East

In her piece for The Indian Express, Coomi Kapoor, dissects the recent Northeast elections and writes, “Though (Himanta Biswa) Sarma is a former Congressman and not from the RSS ranks, nevertheless, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah do not undermine his authority. Sarma’s strength is his success in managing the Northeast polls. As an insider put it, Sarma is to Shah, what Shah is to Modi.”

She adds:

“In the recent Northeast elections, Sarma played a game of shadow-boxing with his good friend and former ally Conrad Sangma in Meghalaya. The BJP, whose influence is restricted to Shillong, campaigned stridently against the state’s tribal majority. Under attack, the tribals polarised and gravitated to Sangma’s party. The losers were the Congress and UDP."

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