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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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Amrit Kaal Questions

Starting with an apology for being “unpatriotic,” P Chidambaram, in his column for The Indian Express, questions the reality of ‘Amrit Kaal’ and lists eight queries for the Indian government.

He begins with asking why the word ‘poor’ occurred only twice and the word ‘unemployment’ did not occur even once in the 90-minute Budget speech on 1 February 2023?

Chidambaram concludes:

“And is it correct that in 2022, 2,25,000 persons gave up citizenship and left India? Has the government conducted an inquiry into why so many Indians — presumably with good educational qualifications — give up Indian citizenship every year? It is believed that, in Amrit Kaal, “the gates will open to greater happiness and pleasures of humans”. These questions, if answered, will open at least a window of opportunity to millions of people, not to great happiness or pleasures, but to mundane things like food and jobs. Will we get answers?”
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Testing Times for Shiv Sena Movement and Party

After suffering the “biggest vertical split,” what lies ahead for the two factions of Bal Thackeray’s Shiv Sena? In his column for The New Indian Express, Sanjay Patil writes about the challenges and opportunities for heir apparent Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

He adds:

“While coming out of one of the biggest crises in Shiv Sena’s political history can be tough for Uddhav Thackeray, the only ray of hope for Bal Thackeray’s heir apparent is the strong grassroots presence of the party and the loyalty that it has towards the Thackeray family. With barely any elected representatives on his side and after the name and the symbol have gone to the Shinde faction, Uddhav will have to revitalise Sena’s grassroots presence to mobilise sainiks and create a second and third rung of party leadership across Maharashtra….The upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections will be a litmus test for Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde to claim their hold over the “real Sena.”
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Waging War Against India

Stating that “once more Punjab is seeing a ‘war against the Indian state’ led by a fanatical Sikh preacher,” Tavleen Singh, in her column for The Indian Express, writes about last week’s “attack on Ajnala police station to demand the release of a comrade,” and Amritpal Singh’s open support for Khalistan.

She writes:

“It is time that the Prime Minister also noticed that there has been too much mixing of religion with politics on his watch and by his most ardent supporters. This mixing of religion and politics always turns ugly. A quick glance through the recent history of Punjab provides more than enough proof that preachers and other religious men should be kept firmly away from interfering in political matters. As someone who remembers well what Punjab was like the last time a preacher became a political figure, I find the rise of Amritpal Singh extremely disturbing. Punjab has just recovered fully from the nightmare that it went through in the eighties and the nineties. This nightmare must not be allowed to unfold again.”
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What’s Hampering High-Tech Manufacturing? Unplanned Urbanisation

Despite ‘India-trained engineers’ becoming a “significant global community, manning or heading a number of globally renowned technological companies,” why does the Indian industry fail to exhibit its production and export capability of higher technology goods on the global stage?

Stating that such a capability bears a strong correlation to “quality of growth and societal modernistation,” TCA Ranganathan answers the same in his column for Deccan Herald.

He writes:

"Data from the Annual Survey of Industries indicates that new factory formation has been declining despite the variety of promotional schemes on offer. Our expenditure on R&D continues to be low, and experts rue the lack of adequate industry-academia collaboration. Yet there has been no drive to co-locate or cluster the availability of the variety of components required for tech manufacturing. For instance, the decision on where to locate our technology training institutions and specialised medical institutions is taken independently, instead of clustering them around notified tech manufacturing centres that we are seeking to promote… Currently, barring some metros and capital cities, other centres are unable to attract tech-oriented investments, including tech FDI. Our metros and capital cities are mostly overcrowded and lack adequate ‘spare’ capacity for absorbing large numbers of greenfield manufacturing investments. This could be why new factory formation is not happening.”
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First of Marchers

In his column for The Telegraph, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, felicitates former chief minister of Bengal Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and current chief minister of Tamil Nadu Mu Ka Stalin, both coincidentally born on 1 March.

After briefly noting their commonalities and differences, Gandhi recounts how Buddhababu “arranged within hours a screening of Pather Panchali” for his family. After the screening, the chief minister saw his family off. He writes, “‘I know the effect the film has had on you; I know,’ he seemed to say wordlessly. That was not a chief minister doing right by a governor. That was a literary soul, an artist no less, rounding off a gesture made in and for art.” 

Gandhi adds:

“Stalin and Buddhadebbabu are politicians who have something to them that is about more than politics, certainly about more than party-politics. They are thinking, reading men who happen to be in politics. They have a weight that is not about the lead of political cannons, and a height that is not about political ladders. And what is more, they are not puffed up about the difference. Which is why 1 March is, for me, a date of more than coincidental interest and why, three days ahead of the date, I felicitate both the ‘first of Marchers’.”
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An Absurd Censoring or a Botched Surgery

In his column for The New Indian Express, Atanu Biswas, questions the recent alterations of “hundreds of words and parts of texts regarding weight, mental health, violence, gender, and race in (Roald) Dahl’s children’s novels.”

He writes:

“Can we dare to censor Tagore’s “Gitanjali,” for example? The broader question is: Should a writer’s writing be altered? If so, to what extent? And who will decide? Do we run the risk of undercutting the brilliance of great writers, preventing readers from facing the world as it is, and risking clouding the crucial lens that literature offers to society in the name of cultural sensitivity and shielding children from cultural, racial, and gender stereotypes in literature and other media?”

He adds:

“But a writer approving the alternation is one thing. If the works of long-dead authors start to be altered by others, both the literature and the offended sensibilities are endless. And how far into the past? Milton? Voltaire? Shakespeare? Machiavelli? Kautilya? The Bible? Awesome epics? And if books are changed this way, they are no longer original works.”
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War in #Ukraine: The Remaking of History

Diving into the etymology of the word ‘war,’ Shankkar Aiyar, in his column for The New Indian Express, dissects the notion of the ‘end of history,’ and writes:

"Less than three decades (after the fall of the Berlin wall) the promised potential for peace and prosperity stands squandered – thanks to the strategy of wishful thinking hyper marketed by transactional interpretations...The Preamble of the United Nations states its determination “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights”. The incapacity of the United Nations – manifest in the persistence of wars and human rights crises -- is rooted in its archaic structure. The veto wielding Security Council is scarcely representative of the new economic, geopolitical and demographic realities. The failure of language found eloquent expression this week at the UN Security Council when the “one minute silence” in the memory of war victims was interrupted."

Aiyar conclues, "Far from the notion of the end of history the world is witnessing the return of history – the remaking of history, the emergence of a second cold war and attendant blocs.”

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Faltering at the Big Moment…Again

Pointing out that the “failure to get past the finish line when the stakes are the highest is not a new weakness for the Women in Blue,” Tushar Bidhuri, in his opinion piece for The Financial Express, writes about the loss of the Indian women’s cricket team at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.

Bidhuri writes:

“But often, one has to make one’s own luck and India should look back at their shoddy fielding effort. Catches were frequently dropped and ground-fielding too was much below the standard expected in a World Cup semifinal. One can only put that down to big-stage nerves…Australia, in contrast, looked comfortable in a knockout scenario, almost relishing a tough challenge and overcoming it. Lanning even described Thursday’s win as one of the best in her career. That’s why they are the gold standard in the women’s game, a stature India – both players and establishment – should be keen on emulating.”
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Amid 2008 Meltdown, How Short-Selling Survived a Ban

While the jury on whether the “Adani-Hindenburg Research affair” is a ‘Lehman moment’ is still out, P Vaidyanathan Iyer, in his column for The Indian Express, writes about the debate on banning ‘short selling’ and Hindenburg’s transparent ambitions in their report on Adani.

Iyer writes:

“But 15 years ago, when the real Lehman moment happened, many prominent persons in India Inc wanted Sebi to ban short selling, arguing it led to huge market manipulation. The ban, they claimed, would prevent a free fall in the stock markets… Sebi’s chief CB Bhave had already made strong technical arguments against banning, but it was Joint Secretary KP Krishnan’s plain and simple English that won the argument. ‘You have very high fever. There are two options. One, take a paracetamol and sleep it through. Two, break the thermometer, and do not acknowledge you have a fever.’ Chidambaram took them to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence the same weekend. Here, the finance ministry officials argued against the ban and pointed out that it was ironic that those lobbying from the private sector for this seemingly regressive move were the same folks who chastised the government then for its baby steps on financial sector liberalisation.”
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