Unlike 2003, India Are Favourites (A Rider: It’s Australia)
With Sunday's cricket World Cup final bringing back memories of 2003 when Australia beat India, Tushar Bhaduri writes for The Indian Express,
"Cut to 2023 and the tables have turned. It’s India who are looking unbeatable. In fact, no team has even come close to them in this World Cup, if one goes by the victory margins. And like India in 2003, it’s the Aussies who have bounced back with eight wins in a row – after defeats to India and South Africa – to make the final. India should be, and are, the favourites, going by the irresistible form, confidence, and panache they have displayed."Tushar Bhaduri, for The Indian Express
Calling the 2023 match "a rematch of the 2003 final," Bhaduri also compares and analyses the present Australian line-up against that of the team that defeated India two decades ago.
In Gaza War, Women and Children Suffer Most
For Hindustan Times, Lalita Panicker writes about how in the middle of the conflict, women and children in Gaza are struggling for "access to food and medicine and safety from gender-based violence."
She opines that those that have been displaced often have "little protection from more violence."
"While the debate continues over who is most at fault, Hamas or the Israel Defence Forces, women and children are at heightened risk of myriad forms of violence and marginalisation. The only glimmer of hope, says Nusseibeh, is that after this dreadful violence, a real peace may come about with the establishment of a Palestinian State. That seems unlikely for the moment, but certainly, there should be a much greater international effort to protect Gaza’s women and children, who are the most vulnerable in this conflict."Lalita Panicker, for Hindustan Times
Different States, Different Strokes
In his weekly column for The Indian Express, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram asserts that the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have changed how elections take place in India.
The Rajya Sabha MP critiques how the BJP "did not project any individual as the leader (and presumptive chief minister) in any state" and did not talk about unemployment and price rise during the campaigns even though they are "the two top concerns."
"Mr Narendra Modi has re-written the rules of the BJP and, to some extent, the rules of elections. Within his party, he has imposed his will so completely that all dissent has been suppressed. On his direction, dozens of Union ministers and serving MPs are contesting state elections, albeit unwillingly. In the current state elections, Mr Modi is the candidate of the party in every constituency."P Chidambaram, for The Indian Express
Elusive Character of Indira Gandhi
Writing for Hindustan Times, Karan Thapar remembers former Indian PM Indira Gandhi, on her birth anniversary, as "part of a past that’s receded and, except for the Emergency, is hardly remembered."
He writes about how he was in awe of her when he first met her and how even as India has had many "strong rulers" and "impressively attired prime ministers" after her, she remains special.
"Like Caesar, it’s true of Indira Gandhi as well, the good has been interred with her bones and we only remember the worst. Yet I vividly recall the exultation on December 16, 1971, when she announced the defeat of Pakistan and the birth of Bangladesh. A day or two later, when she wrote to President Nixon rebuffing PL 480 aid, my 16-year old mind considered this a fitting response to America’s prejudiced behaviour. Today, we correctly give credit to Sam Manekshaw for that victory but unjustly deny it to her."Karan Thapar, for Hindustan Times
Too Many Faux Pas
In her column for The Indian Express, political commentator Coomi Kapoor writes about Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's "indiscreet remarks on female impregnation linking it with education" that have been condemned by many, including the prime minister.
She lists out Kumar's several "faux pas of late" and says,
"Concerned JD(U) leaders have conveyed to the CM’s staff that the media should be kept away from interacting with Nitish as far as possible. Significantly, the media was not permitted entry to two public functions attended by Nitish in the last 10 days. Video recordings at the CM’s Janata darbar have also been stopped."Coomi Kapoor, for The Indian Express
Israel: Silencing Critics New Form of McCarthyism
In his column for The Times of India, Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar writes about art historian Ranjit Hoskote, who was earlier this week forced to resign from Documenta 16, a prestigious German art exhibition, after he was accused of being anti-semitic.
Aiyar opines that this "ethnic hounding" is a result of the West's guilt of its past. "Germany feels so guilty about the Holocaust that it cannot tolerate the slightest criticism of Israel," he writes.
"This is a new form of McCarthyism. Ironically, ‘Oppenheimer’ is the biggest film hit of the year. It highlights how anybody in the McCarthy era (early 1950s) with Communist friends, such as Oppenheimer, could be falsely labelled a traitor and driven out of work. Oppenheimer, a Jew, was declared a security risk. Had he been alive today, he would have castigated fellow-Jews for using McCarthyist tactics against Palestinian sympathisers."Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, for The Times of India
In his piece for The Telegraph, Ramachandra Guha delves deep into Iranian scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr's book Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man.
Guha writes about how the resolution of the ecological and climate crisis will be through renewable energy innovations, "a more caring approach towards nature," and (possibly) billionaires altering their lifestyles.
"Few are willing to look reality in the face and accept the fact that there is no peace possible in human society as long as the attitude toward nature and the whole natural environment is one based on aggression and war."Ramachandra Guha quoting Seyyed Hossein Nasr, for The Telegraph
Bangladesh: Polls Loom but Old Fault Lines Still Haunt Country
For The Times of India, Swapan Dasgupta comments on how the upcoming elections in Bangladesh could be "marred by violence, patchy participation, and a one-sided verdict in favour of Sheikh Hasina," because of the lack of civility between the Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh National Party and Jamaat-e-Islami.
He writes that though the Hasina government brought political stability and economic progress to the country, "liberal democracy hasn’t developed roots in Bangladesh."
"There are no very apparent geo-strategic compulsions for the US to wish the demise of the Sheikh Hasina government that has been in power for the past 15 years. Despite its other sins of commission and omission, the Awami League government has hardly done anything that can be construed as inimical to the broad interests of the US in the region. In particular, the Hasina government has been a bulwark against Islamist forces in Bangladesh."Swapan Dasgupta, for The Times of India
Propaganda Films at Election Time
Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, film critic Namrata Joshi writes for The New Indian Express about how the BJP has understood "the power of propaganda more cannily than the rest."
She looks at propaganda films from the past that were "idealistic" and talked about "pro-people" policies and were meant for social messaging, even when they endorsed political parties or ideologies.
She writes, "As we move towards 2024, propaganda cinema in Bollywood is interestingly poised and shifting shape."
"The BJP has smartly bolstered a majoritarian cinema that has been emerging as a counter to the Nehruvian narratives of yore. It’s about promoting the BJP ideology as that of the nation rather than just giving props to Modi. There are films based on government achievements—Toilet Ek Prem Katha, Mission Mangal—and others that platform the rise of aggressive jingoism with slogans like—"How’s the josh?” There are revivalist historicals—Tanhaji, Manikarnika, Samrat Prithviraj—and others harking back to mythology and Bharat’s supposedly supremacist past. Like Adipurush, Brahmastra, or the recent Ram Setu. What’s galling, however, is the whipping up of communal hatred targeted against the minorities in films such as 72 Hoorain and Ajmer 92 as a mode of stoking Hindutva pride."Namrata Joshi, for The New Indian Express