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.

7 min read
Hindi Female

There Are Jobs, Discover Them

The government is not concerned about creating jobs, P Chidambaram opines in his column in The Indian Express, pointing to the fact that the word ‘jobs’ occurred in three places in the 90-minute, 157-paragraph Budget speech.

Citing a talk by Dr Devi Shetty, a renowned cardio-thoracic surgeon, he contests that millions of jobs for the unemployed that can be created across sectors with little effort, if resources are focussed in the right place.

"Governments are timid. They are afraid to create the jobs that are desperately needed in the government sector, because they have allowed themselves to be deceived by the illusion ‘small government is good government’. Governments are also knowledge-starved. As Dr Shetty pointed out, we are building monuments, not functional and self-sufficient medical colleges and, in the meanwhile, many women, children and afflicted die."
P Chidambaram in The Indian Express

First Among Equals

In his piece for The Telegraph, Gopalkrishna Gandhi talks about Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal's statement that while it would be natural for the Sikh-majority state to have a Sikh CM, there was no reason why a Hindu or a Muslim cannot be chief minister of Punjab.

Badal has made a mark that needs to be made in the communally divided, socially fractured, politically scarred politics of today’s India, he writes.

"India, a Hindu-majority country, with Muslims being the biggest minority community, has had a Sikh prime minister. A hugely respected statesman of international repute. And for ten years. So why should Punjab, a Sikh-majority state, with Hindus being minority number one and Muslims minority number two, not have a Hindu or a Muslim CM? Why ever not? Now, if a Hindu politician were to say that or — stretching one’s imagination to near-breaking point — a Muslim candidate or leader were to say that, it would amount to a job application. But when a Sikh says that, and one who is a chip of chief ministerial timber, we are hearing the vocabulary of statesmanship."
Gopalkrishna Gandhi in The Telegraph

Confusing Islam With Islamism

In her column for The Indian Express, Tasleen Singh, writes that Karnataka’s BJP government has handled the recent protests so foolishly that the conversation has become about whether Muslim girls should be deprived of an education simply because they insist on wearing a religious symbol, instead of about the spread of political Islam and its regressive demands.

"If Muslims in Modi’s India are feeling victimised, how is it that they can summon up so much aggression when it comes to their demands? What saddens me is to see this aggression wasted on hijab. If this same aggression had been brought into play when that Dharam Sansad in Haridwar suggested that the final solution to our Muslim problem was genocide, I would have been at the forefront of the protests. When Muslim women sat in protest against the discriminatory changes in the citizenship law, I was on their side. But, it is hard to support the demand for hijab in classrooms because not only is this a very retrograde idea it is also one that has the backing of jihadist outfits like the Popular Front of India (PFI)."
Tasleen Singh in the Indian Express

She laments the fact that Prime Minister Modi’s tenure has been so tainted by its open discrimination against Islam and Muslims that he does not have the moral authority to say that Muslim rights are secure but jihadist Islam will be crushed.


New Choice

How will Muslims of Uttar Pradesh choose to exercise their voting rights, after five years under the scorching ‘double engine’ of Hindu rashtra? Asim Ali explores this question in his opinion piece for The Telegraph.

He writes that while in the past few decades Muslims haven't overwhelmingly voted for a single party, there are now signs of a marked consolidation behind the Samajwadi Party, the principal challenger to the Bharatiya Janata Party.

"It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that for many Muslims, this election seems imbued with an existential dimension. It is taking place in a context when there is no reliable protection of the rule of law available to them anymore. Their lives have been taken with impunity, from the 22 men shot dead in the anti-CAA protests to the scores killed in police encounters. Their property has been illegally seized, as the Supreme Court recently noted, on the pretext of punishing disorderly conduct. And their livelihoods have been threatened by mobs of vigilantes acting under State sanction targeting street vendors and tradesmen to butchers and leather tanners. On top of that, their saffron-robed chief minister hints that there is worse to come, openly fighting this election against the ‘20%’ of ‘them’ under his ‘80% versus 20%’ election theme."
Asim Ali in The Telegraph

The Three Cs To Resolve Our Poverty of Attention

In today's age of "magical technology" we have abundant information on our fingertips at all times, which creates a poverty of attention, opine Nandan Nilekani and Tanuj Bhojwani in Hindustan Times.

According to them, far too many of us have reported feeling burnt out or overworked, especially in the pandemic-induced work-from-home revolution.

The barriers between our different information sources have almost completely vanished. You could be reading up on the new mutation to the spike protein of the Covid-19 virus in one moment, and be sending Shark Tank memes the next. Notifications exacerbate this problem because they demand your attention be redirected at someone else’s will. Many people try to get around this by separating their digital lives into work and personal. But these boundaries don’t really help us in controlling our attention. Our email, while it is work, can also be a significant distraction from our most important goals. Foregoing our devices may sound like a good idea, but it makes our lives incredibly inconvenient."
Nandan Nilekani and Tanuj Bhojwani in Hindustan Times

What It Takes To Swim With the Sharks

Leher Kala, in her column for The Indian Express, finds the wildly popular Shark Tank India to be a fresh breath of air In the cluttered television landscape. The Indian middle class attitude to careers has always been to play it safe, recognise itself as limited, and be grateful for whatever comes its way. This show challenges those beliefs, she writes.

"Far from celebrating risk takers, the small Indian entrepreneur is viewed suspiciously, as if his deviant choice makes him unreliable. Along comes Shark Tank that makes the preposterous suggestion that anything is possible. The show portrays entrepreneurship positively, cheering on a manufacturer of eco-friendly bamboo toothbrushes and buying into a small brand making frozen momos. In a country that has always stifled creativity in favour of guaranteed employment, maybe, just maybe, STI could embolden a few."
Leher Kala in The Indian Express

A Model To Educate Marginalised Girls

The pandemic has affected girls, especially adolescents, significantly in terms of access to education, nutrition and health care, writes Lalita Panicker in Hindustan Times. The NGO Educate Girls seeks to take learning to girls who can't attend online classes due to low penetration of the internet and poor access to smartphones, she says, and a lot can be learned from their model.

"The girls were given lessons in Hindi and mathematics; they could meet other children and educators and also engage in fun-based learning activities. The success of this has been the fact that the volunteers already had a good rapport with the parents and community elders built over the years. This way, they were also able to keep a check on underage marriages in the communities they were working with."
Lalita Panicker in Hindustan Times

China Could Use Russia’s Cyber and Hybrid War Playbook Against India

What will the Chinese have learnt from the way this dispute between Russia and the US is playing out? And, how might they apply some of those lessons to China’s border dispute with India? These are the key questions that India should think about, writes Anirudh Suri in The Times of India.

He believes that we have two things to learn: China stands to benefit the most from a protracted US-Russia conflict and that it will likely engage in a hybrid war with India, and not just a war on the physical border.

"Cyberattacks are now a key component of hybrid war. Earlier, these meant hacking or defacing of official websites. However, in recent years, cyber-offense capabilities have improved significantly and critical infrastructure such as power grids, dams, industries, nuclear facilities and telecommunications infrastructure has become vulnerable due to its dependence on cyber-connectivity. In recent military strategy documents, China has emphasised the integration of information warfare and the strategic cyber frontier with its traditional military operations. This is further evidenced by the setting up of its Strategic Support Force (SSF) as the fifth branch of the People’s Liberation Army to oversee its cyber and electronic warfare force."
Anirudh Suri in The Times of India

A Century Ago, When Girls Walked Through the Gates

In the midst of the controversy over the hijab, with concerns being expressed over whether this will lead to dropouts among girls, NS Rangaraju writes in The Indian Express, that it would serve us well to recall the moment when public education for girls became a reality and led to the establishment of the Maharani Kempananjammanni Girls School in the erstwhile state of Mysuru.

"A well-planned Mysore was built only after June 1799, when Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar became king and shifted his capital from Srirangapattana to Mysore in 1801. But it wasn’t until nearly a century later, under another Wodeyar king, Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar-X, and his queen Vani Vilasa Sannidhana that the city became the birthplace of a revolutionary idea — public education for girls and women. Until then, public education was the privilege of the boys and the men."
NS Rangaraju in The Indian Express

Despite its glorious past and despite protests, on February 8 this year, the building was demolished to make way for the construction of the Vivekananda Memorial, he adds.


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