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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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Discovering Democracy in America

P Chidambaram, in his column for The Indian Express, discusses Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "India is a democracy" response to a question raised by a WSJ journalist on minority rights during his visit to the United States.

Chidambaram argues that the prime minister's answer is in sharp contrast to the rising crimes against Muslims and dwindling representation of minorities in the country.

"India has a parliament but there are, increasingly, questions whether India is truly a democracy. It was therefore reassuring to hear the Honourable Prime Minister declare on his recent visit to the United States that India "is a democracy". He uttered the word 'democracy' 14 times in his address to the joint session of the US Congress. News reports say that he 'pushed back' at a question on minority rights and free speech from a reporter at the White House."
P Chidambaram, in his piece for The Indian Express
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The Case for a Uniform Civil Code

Tahir Mahmood, in his piece for The Indian Express, writes that the much-discussed Uniform Civil Code warrants a reality check and must be viewed with caution as "uniformity of laws by itself is no virtue."

"A new comprehensive civil code, if enacted, will replace personal laws of all communities, none of which are at present free from religious bias and gender inequalities. But it is generally projected as a measure aimed at doing away with Muslim law, which is seen as archaic and anti-women. This misperception has turned the noble constitutional ideal into a nightmare for the Muslim clergy and the masses alike who naively believe their law to be divine and hence sacrosanct, shutting their eyes to the fact that their law as practised here is not the true Islamic law."
Tahir Mahmood, in his piece for The Indian Express

Frost, Nehru, Modi & a Book of Poems

Karan Thapar, in his column for Hindustan Times, makes an uncanny observation about US President Joe Biden's gift to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the latter's state visit recently – the first edition of Collected Poems of Robert Frost.

Thapar opines that as Frost is former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's favourite author, it is interesting that the POTUS would gift it to PM Modi, considering how Nehru isn't regarded fondly by the BJP government.

"Biden might not have known this himself but he would not have decided on the book on his own. Undoubtedly, there were people to advise him. People who know India well and, more importantly, who would have chosen carefully to ensure the gift pleases Modi. It's hard to believe they aren't aware of the Nehru-Frost connection or the Modi-Nehru discord."
Karan Thapar, in his column for Hindustan Times
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India's Defence Conundrum Is Russia Over-Dependence

Manish Tewari, in his piece for Deccan Chronicle, argues that India's dependence on Russia for defence might slow down the former's "strategic autonomy" owing to Russia incurring tremendous stress with its ongoing war in Ukraine. He suggests that it is high time that India ditched "old paradigms" and adopted a fresh approach.

"Herein lies an opportunity for India to build an entirely new approach that can underpin both its defence frameworks and strategic relationships for the 21st century should it choose to do. That relationship and framework has to take into account the challenges, realities and imperatives of the 21st century and really jettison the shibboleths of a previous century that our "tanks – that supposedly think that they think"  still pay lip service to. It comes under an overarching rubric called "strategic autonomy" – a term widely used but little understood by politicians, policymakers, defence planners and even the strategic elite."
Manish Tewari, in his piece for Deccan Chronicle
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Baraat Jodo Yatra: Baat Maaniye, Shaadi Kariye

Atanu Biswas, in his piece for The Economic Times, offers an interesting take on marriage and politics, in the context of Lalu Prasad Yadav – during the Patna opposition meet – urging Rahul Gandhi to get married. He argues that while in countries like the US and UK, most heads of state are married, in India, singlehood of prime ministers is something that voters have gotten on board with.

"In India, an unmarried leader is sometimes portrayed as being committed to public life and carrying little baggage. Given that electorates frequently support the idea, politicians often don't hesitate to flaunt their singlehood by declaring that nothing else can stand between them and their service to state or country."
Atanu Biswas, in his piece for The Economic Times
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It's Time for PM Modi To Get Rid of His Speechwriters

Tavleen Singh, in her column for The Indian Express, opines that Prime Minister Narendra Modi – despite being a "fine orator" – has taken to "saying the same thing wherever he goes." She was referring to his address in the US and his subsequent speech at Bhopal.

"What I expected from Modi was that the theme of his speech to American lawmakers would be to build on what he said last time he was in this same forum about overcoming the 'hesitations of history'. I thought he would declare that these hesitations had now been dumped in history's dustbin and that a new chapter was beginning. In fairness he did mention this in passing but it surprised me to see that he dwelled at length on the number of houses, roads and drinking water pipes that had been built since he became prime minister. Did his speechwriter forget that these are things that Americans have taken for granted for many decades?"
Tavleen Singh, in her column for The Indian Express
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Pasoori & the Persistence of Outrage

In her piece for The New Indian Express, Namrata Joshi writes about the 'Pasoori Nu' controversy, opining that while the remix of the popular Coke Studio Pakistan song 'Pasoori' may not be a fan favourite, the "chronic disorder of outrage" surrounding it on social media is unjustified.

"Things have come to such a pass that many – among the audience, critics, and film fraternity itself – have started getting defensive about raising even genuine political and social concerns about certain contentious films, fearing it would lead to an infantile public discourse rather than constructive debates and discussions. Also, even a takedown willy-nilly gets channelled as an acknowledgement and validation of a film, helping market it, thereby catapulting it at the box office."
Namrata Joshi, in her piece for The New Indian Express
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To End Its Title Drought, India Can Learn From England's Turnaround

As Team India embarks on a two-match series in Caribbean in a few days, Ayaz Memon, in his piece for The Times of India, discusses why titles are proving elusive for India, even as "there is no dearth of high-quality talent, facilities are first rate, financial rewards for players massive."

"So, what's the shortcoming? I venture it is the nature of conversation that exists in Indian cricket. The richest, best-structured systems can get fatigued of ideas, stagnate, even decay. Fresh vision, new energy, bold imagination, and gutsy risk-taking are needed to transform an unrewarding situation."
Ayaz Memon, in his piece for The Times of India
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Stock Market Bulls Mock Central Bank Fears

Shankkar Aiyar, in his piece for The New Indian Express, observes that while central banks have warned that inflation is going to be "sticky" and that it is unclear whether recession could be avoided, the stock market bulls have been throwing caution to the wind.

"The warnings ... are bouncing off the bulls. In 1998, as headlines screamed worries following the Asian Contagion Peter Lynch, the legendary investor, said famously: "The world will be OK. I have read the constitution. I've read the bill of rights," and added that he didn't see anything which said there must be a recession. Stock market bulls are as dismissive as Lynch and are scoffing at central bank theories. Take India where the BSE Sensex and the Nifty 50 – benchmark indices – touched new highs."
Shankkar Aiyar, in his piece for The New Indian Express
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