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

A year after Manipur violence: No attempt at negotiation

In her column for The Indian Express, Patricia Mukhim writes that after a year to the ethnic conflict breaking out in Manipur, there is an urgent need to reconcile the warring communities in the north-eastern state. She argues that even as rapprochement between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo people seems difficult, Manipur chief minister Biren Singh has continued to stoke division instead of giving "assurance that he is above the state's identity politics."

The scale of violence has come down in the past eight months. But regular incidents of brutality underline that much more needs to be done. More than 200 people have lost their lives, heinous crimes have been committed against women, more than 250 churches have been burnt and a large number of Kuki-Zo families are living in relief camps. Meiteis in the hill districts have also lost their homes and many people of the community are in refugee camps in Imphal.
Patricia Mukhim

Addressing citizens in a secular democracy

In his column for Hindustan Times, Karan Thapar questions the response of the country's media and its citizens to some of the recent speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi while campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections. He said that in the 1950s-60's, it was assumed that whatever the prime minister said, it was bound to be correct but now we have come a long way from that period when the country's PM was superior to other politicians. He adds that the media's response (or the lack of it) has left him "surprised."

And yet, even in my most pessimistic and darkest moods, I would never have thought I would hear a Prime Minister attack and demonise a sizeable section of his own fellow citizens. And find ways of repeating it. Artfully, his admirers might say, but multiple times. And seem to enjoy doing so and feel justified and vindicated. Otherwise, surely, he would have stopped, may have corrected himself, and, possibly, expressed regret? But that hasn't happened, whilst the re-iterations, public, forceful, and from changing locations, continue.

Side effects of AstraZeneca vaccine: Medicine is clear now to the courts

In his column for The Indian Express, Rajib Dasgupta writes that the benefits of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine -- manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and sold under the brand name Covishield -- in combating the continuing threat of Covid outweighed the risk of rare side effects. The company recently accepted in a UK court that its vaccine can, in very rare cases, cause an adverse side effect called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

The High Court in the UK will decide on a potential 255 million pound compensation that will be borne by the government, given the indemnity agreements. Nested within a pandemic, there are critical ethical dilemmas for the courts to resolve. The bottom-line is the WHO’s criteria for vaccine confidence — need for trust in the effectiveness and safety of vaccines and the perceived motivations of policy-makers.
Rajib Dasgupta, for The Indian Express

Rahul Gandhi gets it right

In his column for The Times of India, R Jagannathan argues that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi made the "right choice" by choosing to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Rae Bareli instead of Amethi. He said that Rae Bareli was the only seat that the Congress had won during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections amid the Modi wave with a margin of over 1,67,000 votes over its nearest BJP rival.

Clearly, Rahul realises that not only must he win his own seat, but he has to also ensure the growth of his party in UP again. Even if the party does not win too many seats this time, it still needs a beach-head in the state. Rae Bareli gives him that option. Congress had nine seats in UP in the 2004 LS elections, when just seven seats kept it ahead of BJP with 138. The party won 21 seats from UP in the 2009 elections, proving that this populous state (apart from undivided Andhra) was crucial to its return to power both in 2004 and 2009. Its decline began from 2014 in UP.
R Jagannathan, The Times of India

Hindutva’s southward journey: How BJP emerged as a major player in Karnataka

In his column for The Indian Express, Suhas Palshikar argues that Karnataka can be described as the BJP’s gateway to south India. He buttresses this argument by citing the Narendra Modi-led party's performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, when it had won 25 of 28 parliamentary seats in Karnataka. This time around, when the BJP is contesting in alliance with JD(S), it is critical for the saffron party to repeat that feat.

In Karnataka, the BJP has captured the political loyalty of the Lingayat community for the past couple of decades. However, it would be a mistake to imagine that its success in the state is due only to that. As is the case elsewhere, the party has managed to bring into its fold a broader coalition of Hindu castes. This development seriously undermines the efforts of the Congress to benefit from the more complicated and diverse coalition of backward communities and minorities. As stated above, it would be a mistake to imagine that the backward communities are natural adversaries of the BJP. The BJP’s vote share of 51 per cent loudly proclaims to the contrary.
Suhas Palshikar, for The Indian Express

The paradox of India’s global rise, its regional decline

In his column for The Hindu, Happymon Jacob writes that one of the "deeply perplexing paradoxes" of contemporary Indian foreign policy is that a globally rising India is also a regionally declining power. He elaborates that though India has grown globally as an absolute power, its regional influence has waned due to diminishing relative power as compared to China, and loss of primacy among its South Asian neighbours.

The arrival of China in South Asia, the withdrawal of the U.S. from the region, and India’s tilt to the Indo-Pacific have shifted the regional balance of power in Beijing’s favour. Sensing this new power equation, South Asia’s smaller powers, India’s neighbours, are engaged in a range of strategies: balancing, bargaining, hedging and bandwagoning. India’s smaller neighbours seem to find China as a useful hedge against India, for the moment at least. It is also important to keep in mind that a great deal of this regional balancing results from shifts in the regional balance of power, not merely from insufficient Indian outreach to the neighbourhood.
Happymon Jacob, for The Hindu

The neta-janata divide

In his column for The Times of India, Dipankar Gupta writes that while it is the characteristic of a politician to switch parties, the onus of ideological loyalty falls on the voter. He asserts that it is voters who are "driven by ideological convictions", but professional politicians, when freed from the baggage of such convictions, find it as easy to to switch parties as an executive would, "when moving for a better compensation package from Larsen & Toubro to Hindustan Unilever, or vice versa."

To demand ideological fidelity would cause an instant nosebleed in politicians who have turned professional and who calculate their allegiances and accompanying perks carefully. Politics is far from being a soft- hearted 'vocation'. It is a hard as hard can be profession and can smelt the toughest ideological metal to a pliable, handy tool.
Dipankar Gupta, for The Times of India

Recognise ‘this leave’ as a woman’s right

In this column for The Hindu, Rehnamol Raveendran writes that the recognition of the issue of menstrual leave by a political party would be instrumental in providing policy solutions to gender inequalities and bring social change. She observes this while referring to the manifesto of Tamil Nadu's ruling party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for the Lok Sabha elections, which stated that “DMK will insist that the Union government enact a law providing menstrual leave to women, emphasizing the journey towards gender equality.”

In a recent progressive attempt, Kerala has encouraged the use of other menstrual hygiene products and made them available for students. Bihar, in 1992, allowed government employees two-day menstrual leave. Kerala, in January 2023, introduced menstrual and maternity leave to all students above the age of 18. Other States must be reminded that the existing laws are not a hindrance for State governments to go ahead and notify the right to menstrual leave.

Why elections should be conducted in better weather conditions

In this column for The Indian Express, former President of India Ram Nath Kovind writes that for greater participation of citizens and voters in the Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission (EC) should have proposed a more "weather-friendly" polling time-table as it is "crucial for the health of the democracy." Even as the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued alerts and warnings of heat waves in many districts during April, the EC was tasked with reviewing the impact of rising mercury levels ahead of polling.

We, therefore, need to debate the timing of the elections for the sake of voters, campaigners and, let us not forget, the officials in charge of conducting elections...All stakeholders should come together to address this question in the interest of democracy, and find a way out. Our objective should be to conduct elections in such weather conditions as are conducive to maximum participation and thus strengthen the project of democracy in India and also around the world.
Ram Nath Kovind, Former President of India, for The Indian Express
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