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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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There Are No Poor in India

P Chidambaram, in his column in The Indian Express, criticises the NITI Aayog's claim that "the poor in India are no more than 5 per cent of the population," which it reportedly made based on the Household Consumption Expenditure Survey published by the National Sample Survey Office.

Terming the NITI Aayog an "ingratiating spokesperson of the government," he writes:

"What riles me is the claim that the poor in India are no more than 5 per cent of the population. The implication is that the poor are a vanishing tribe and let's turn our attention and resources to the middle class and the rich. If the claim is true – why does the government distribute 5 kg of free grain per person per month to 80 crore people? After all, cereal and substitutes account for only 4.91 per cent (rural) and 3.64 per cent (urban) of the total MPCE."
P Chidambaram for The Indian Express
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Bonds, Not Black Money, Gone: All Eyes Now on EC

Pavan K Varma, in his piece for Deccan Chronicle, argues that while the Supreme Court of India's electoral bonds judgment is a significant one, "merely scrapping the scheme will take us back to the old system where cash was paid under the table, forcing corporates to resort to unethical practices which generate black money."

He adds that a reform in the electoral system is necessary to prevent the surge of black money.

"The Election Commission (EC) has for long recommended several reforms. Currently, candidates are required to disclose their assets and liabilities, but not political parties. As far back as 2004, the EC had proposed that 'political parties should be required to publish their accounts annually for information and scrutiny of the general public and all concerned, for which purpose the maintenance of such accounts and their auditing (by a firm of auditors approved by the Comptroller and Auditor General) to ensure their accuracy is a prerequisite'. This has never been done."
Pavan K Varma for Deccan Chronicle
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Misplaced Priorities or Wrong Priorities

Quoting an official figure that states that only 46 out of 485 Indian cities supply clean drinking water to its citizens, Tavleen Singh, in her column in The Indian Express, asks why such issues are not discussed enough in the run-up to a general election. She opines that along with policymakers, the media must also be held accountable for "burying this kind of story on inside pages."

"Clean water is a need so fundamental that in countries that are truly 'developed' you can drink the water that comes out of the taps in your home. What has gone wrong with Indian policy-making that we have not yet succeeded in giving our citizens this basic facility? It is not just our poorest citizens who are deprived of clean water. We all are. Those who can afford the filters needed to clean the filthy water that municipalities supply, get them. But for rural Indians and those who live in urban slums, this is a luxury they cannot afford."
Tavleen Singh for The Indian Express
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New Delhi's Balancing Act in Chaotic West Asia

Manjari Chatterjee Miller, in her piece for Hindustan Times, opines that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who made "two successful outreach trips" to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar last month, may not be able to "sit on the fence" on Israel's war on Gaza for long, as relations between Israel and the Arab nations further decline.

"India's relations with Iran are also at stake. India has long been supporting maritime security in the Red Sea and Indian warships play an important role in rescuing hijacked ships from pirates. But India has thus far declined to join 'Operation Prosperity Guardian,' the United States-led maritime force to protect ships from Houthi attacks. If it does, India risks offending Iran, a country with whom India has long had strong diplomatic links. Yet the Houthi attacks have implications for Indian trade which utilises routes through the Red Sea and Suez Canal to reach North Africa and the West."
Manjari Chatterjee Miller for Hindustan Times
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The Pareeksha Pe Charcha That We Need To Have Urgently

Yamini Aiyar, in her piece for Deccan Herald, writes about what ails the education system in India, in light of the recent Uttar Pradesh paper leak controversy. She argues that classrooms are currently only designed to teach the top of the class and have very little to offer those who fall behind – and that paper leaks and "organised cheating" are a consequence of the same.

"India desperately needs to break the classroom consensus. The pressures of an over-ambitious curriculum and rote-learning have created a ticking demographic time-bomb. Most elites in cosmopolitan India are switching away from Indian school boards to the more expensive and globally competitive international boards. The inevitable widening of the class divide will be serious if the Indian school system doesn't reform."
Yamini Aiyar for Deccan Herald
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Did You Know There's a Part of the Constitution That's at Least 2,500 Years Old?

Alok Prasanna Kumar, in his piece for Deccan Herald, writes about the relationship between the word "dictator", the Roman Empire, and the Emergency Powers granted in the Indian Constitution under Article 352. He adds that during the rule of the Romans, "the term 'dictator' was used in a limited and specific context," but its meaning has changed throughout history.

"...what do we call someone who completely discards the idea of a constitution or laws limiting their rule? The ancient Romans had a word for that as well – tyrant. A tyrant believes there are no limits to his or her power as ruler. The ancient Romans' dislike of tyrants was so great that when Rome’s Senators (the equivalent of today’s MPs) sensed Julius Caesar’s ambition to crown himself Emperor (by removing time limits on his dictatorship), they – many of them his closest associates and friends (et tu, Brutus?) – assassinated him, resulting in a civil war."
Alok Prasanna Kumar for Deccan Herald
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India's Economy: Known Knowns and Known Unknowns

Shankkar Aiyar, in his column in The New Indian Express, takes a deeper look at the latest data on India's GDP projections – wherein growth estimates have been revised to 7.6% from an earlier projection of 7.3% – and opines that "not everything is hunky dory and there is reason for the rah-rah brigade to temper the tempo."

"The estimates also signal a slowdown in velocity and momentum of growth – the end-of-year projection 7.6 percent suggests GDP growth in the fourth quarter would be sub-6 percent. As with other elements of social order, economic growth too is governed by the law of averages. Is this dip an aberration, a statistical effect, or is there a structural issue that must be addressed to sustain growth?"
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How We Can Avoid Human-Animal Conflicts

Aritra Kshettry, in her piece for The Indian Express, writes about the need for proactive measures to prevent human-animal conflicts in India, in light of the recent incident of a man dying in an elephant attack in Kerala's Wayanad. She advocates for sustainable development practices that consider the coexistence of humans and animals, suggesting that a balanced approach is essential for the well-being of both.

"...data systems based on the analysis of trends and circumstances of negative encounters between people and elephants must be put in place to identify vulnerable groups of people and vulnerable locations. Once these facets have been identified, locally relevant and acceptable measures need to be put in place to prevent damage. The next important step would be to promote coordination between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala with respect to sharing information on animal movement and real-time data on human casualties and economic losses. Joint operations and training for the forest departments would likely yield positive results to this end."
Aritra Kshettry for The Indian Express
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Colosseum Cricket

In his column in The Telegraph, Mukul Kesavan digs deep into the trend of 'Bazball Cricket', England's contemporary style of playing test cricket, which has generated excitement "amongst spectators, pundits, ex-players" and has also inspired wariness in opposing teams.

"Bazball is best understood as a motivational technique. Its author, Brendon 'Baz' McCullum, was an attacking wicketkeeper-batsman for New Zealand and, later in his career, an inspirational captain who helped transform a traditionally minor Test-playing nation into a team to be reckoned with. Bazball was born when he took over as the coach of the English Test team at around the same time as England's captaincy was transferred from Joe Root, England's best batsman, to Ben Stokes, its Thor-like all-rounder. McCullum is Bazball's guru-figure and Stokes is his arch-disciple."
Mukul Kesavan for The Telegraph
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