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

What if TN Seshan were leading the EC today?

In his column for Hindustan Times, Karan Thapar critiques the current state of the Election Commission of India (ECI), contrasting it with the tenure of former Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan. Thapar laments that the present ECI lacks the fairness, transparency, and determination that characterized Seshan's leadership. The piece highlights the ECI's inadequate response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's alleged breaches of the model code of conduct, arguing that the ECI's inaction undermines democracy and harms public trust. The article calls for stronger, more decisive action from the ECI to uphold the integrity of elections in India.

Alas, the Commission of today behaves like a very different animal. It’s more a pet dog than a guard dog, if you want to extend the analogy. It seems to have forgotten the need for fairness and transparency. It is no longer determined to do its job even in the teeth of fierce resistance. Instead, it seeks the easy way out.
Karan Thapar, Hindustan Times

Oh, a-Nazi demon-hunting we will go

In his piece for The Economic Times, Indrajit Hazra nostalgically reflects on his experiences with the video game 'Wolfenstein 3D' and its impact on his life. He recounts the thrill and immersive experience of playing the game in the 1990s and explores the psychological appeal of first-person shooter (FPS) games, referencing theories from behavioral science about autonomy, relatedness, and competence. The piece concludes with the author's renewed excitement to revisit the game with 'Wolfenstein: The New Order', and the joy it brings in the context of modern life and gaming culture.

Wolfenstein 3D would probably have served as a 'gateway game' for my proper addiction to the world of gaming, were it not for a friend accidentally deleting it from my PC, and me subsequently moving to the more pacifist climes of Delhi where work and family took precedence over killing fascists.
Indrajit Hazra, The Economic Times

‘Thanda’ election: Notes from Hindi heartland

In their piece for Hindustan Times, Shashank Chaturvedi, David N Gellner, and Sanjay Kumar Pandey discuss the lackluster nature of the 2024 Lok Sabha election compared to 2014 and 2019. They attribute this to the BJP's dominance and lack of a serious alternative. The article highlights challenges for the BJP, such as internal discontent and decreased voter turnout, while noting their strategic efforts in caste engineering and opposition recruitment. The early peak of excitement with the Ayodhya consecration has led to voter apathy, and the BJP faces the challenge of maintaining internal harmony amidst its dominance.

Whatever speculation there may be around the low percentage voting turnout, on the ground, the BJP is attempting the Gujaratisation of UP. By this, we refer to building their vote br through caste engineering and reducing the space for the Opposition. It is striking how many opposition leaders at the booth and district levels have switched sides and joined the BJP.
Shashank Chaturvedi, David N Gellner & Sanjay Kumar Pandey, Hindustan Times

The hand of friendship

This article by N. Anand Venkatesh is a reflection on the importance of true friendship, inspired by the movie 'Manjummel Boys', which he recently watched. In this piece from The Hindu, the Madras High Court judge recounts a personal childhood memory of being saved by a friend, highlighting the deep bonds of friendship. He contrasts this with today's shallow social media relationships and emphasizes the value of genuine connections. He also discusses the movie's portrayal of selfless friendship and the importance of staying humane and introspective, especially in public service roles like the police.

In the film, one of the friends falls into a deep pit and from somewhere deep down, the others are able to hear the cry of agony. That was enough for them to stay put and fight against all odds and ultimately one of them dares to get into that dangerous tunnel and pull out his badly bruised friend alive. This miracle can happen only in true deep relationships, not those struck on social media. The best a social media friend can do is send messages such as “Oh, I am shocked” and “Praying for safe rescue”. Or probably someone will take a video of the rescue operation and post it with the message “Forward as much as possible” and ultimately end it up with an “RIP”. This movie is a reiteration of what a true relationship is all about.
N. Anand Venkatesh, The Hindu

Behind Narendra Modi’s concerns for Muslims, BJP’s logic of ‘winnability’

In his column for The Indian Express, Hilal Ahmed talks about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent comments on secularism have sparked a debate over the BJP's outreach to Muslims. While some view Modi's remarks as caring, critics argue they contradict his past rhetoric. The BJP's 2024 campaign focuses on Modi's persona and welfarism, downplaying Hindutva and avoiding Muslim references. Initially targeting Pasmanda Muslims, the party shifted to criticizing the Congress for Muslim appeasement. This strategy balances core ideological supporters with a newer, diverse voter base, aiming for broader appeal and electoral success.

It is worth noting here that the Sankalp Patra gives more emphasis to Modi-centric welfarism and underplays the Hindutva agenda. Yet, it remains silent on the question of Muslim backwardness. Even the slogan “Sabka Saath…” is used very carefully to avoid any reference to Muslim communities. This strategic omission is interesting.
Hilal Ahmed, The Indian Express

The timelessness of Surjit Patar’s poetry

With his article in Hindustan Times, Gagan Deep Sharma pays a tribute to the late Punjabi poet Surjit Patar, celebrating his life, work, and impact on literature. Sharma highlights his consistent yet diverse poetic style, his ability to resonate across generations, and his intellectual prowess. The article mentions Patar's background, his significant literary contributions, and his unique ability to articulate modern difficulties. He also reflects on Surjit Patar's humility and how his philosophy and verses will continue to live on, emphasizing the lasting influence of his words and the depth of his poetic expression.

Patar began writing at a young age and stayed engaged until his final day, making him a contemporary of nearly all generations of modern Punjabi poets, carrying his style, thoughts, and language across the decades. He was consistent yet diverse, soft yet stubborn, classy yet grounded. When he took the stage to recite his poems/ghazals or sing his songs, his breath would speak as much as his words.
Gagan Deep Sharma, Hindustan Times

Chronicle of a team foretold: Loving RCB is like running into a computer problem again and again

In his piece for The Economic Times, Shishir Prasad talks about his unwavering devotion and enduring hope of the fans of the IPL cricket franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore. He draws parallels between this devotion and various philosophical and cultural references, including St. Francis of Assisi, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Beatles. The article highlights the team's history of near-successes and the resilience of its fans, who continue to support the team despite repeated disappointments.

In recent times, if you want to see the real path of love you need to be a fan of the IPL cricket franchise Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB). For most part of the last 16 years, since the IPL started, RCB have resembled a UPSC aspirant who makes it to the interview stage but doesn’t get selected.
Shishir Prasad, The Economic Times

Get a juggler, talk up POK, just don’t let the voter get bored

In his article for The Economic Times, comedian Anuvab Pal explores the decline in the quality of political discourse during election campaigns, focusing on the current trend of personal attacks, name-calling, and sensationalism. He highlights how politicians resort to various tactics, including making promises of cash distribution or hurling accusations of corruption, to capture the attention of disinterested or distracted audiences. Pal reflects on the challenges politicians face in engaging crowds, particularly in the age of social media and smartphones, and shares anecdotes to illustrate the lengths some politicians go to in order to maintain audience interest.

Today, especially in this scorching heat, armed with a smartphone and a promise of biryani, voters' attention is torn. Even if the politician on the stage is the world's most popular guy. If you go to any rally, the audience is listening to the speech, clapping. Still, half the attention is on YouTube or WhatsApp, distracted perhaps by a Modi viral reel, while the real guy is 500 m from them.
Anuvab Pal, The Economic Times

Sushil Modi, BJP’s organisation man who built bridges – and didn’t nurse grudges

This piece for The Indian Express, written by Santosh Singh, is a tribute to Sushil Kumar Modi, a prominent political figure in Bihar, focusing on his contributions to Bihar politics, especially within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). It highlights Modi's role in promoting OBC and EBC politics within the BJP, his collaboration with Nitish Kumar in coalition politics, and his accomplishments as Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister of Bihar. The article also reflects on Modi's character, organizational skills, and his journey from a young politician to a respected leader in Bihar politics.

It was a time when the state BJP was trying to overcome the dominance of its upper-caste leadership. Lalmuni Chaubey, the second-most important leader in the state party and a Brahmin leader, had been elected as Lok Sabha MP in 1996, leaving the state’s reins to the younger generation — Sushil Modi and Nand Kishore Yadav, both OBCs. Mishra, who was finance minister in the Karpoori Thakur government (1977-1979), too knew that the BJP needed to move beyond being seen as a “Brahmin-Bania” party.
Santosh Singh, The Indian Express
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