Evil Under The Sun
In her column for the Indian Express, Tavleen Singh, in the context of the latest controversy surrounding the Gyanvapi Mosque, expresses her concern regarding the demonization of Indian Muslims and labels the perpetrators behind the same as "India's real 'tukde-tukde' gang".
"The ugly truth is that once the genie of hatred is released, it is hard to contain. So, it is no longer about righting the wrongs of history or about reclaiming ancient temples, it is about how much we hate Muslims and about how Islam is a religion that breeds murderous fanatics. In this outpouring of hatred for 'invaders', all of India’s Muslims are being called jihadists, whose punishment is the erasure of their culture, language, and status as equal citizens."Tavleen Singh, in the Indian Express
Learning From the Past
Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and C Rajagopalachari, in his piece for The Telegraph, wishes that Prashant Kishor's 3,000 kilometre-long padayatra from Champaran in Bihar goes well for reasons that are "historical, political, social and, in today's India, existential."
"Prashant Kishor's specialisation has been creating a path to the red-carpeted grand stairway to the Throne Rooms of power. But the Bihar Jan Suraj plan of his will lead to no such grandiose thing. It will, instead, lead to a wilderness of dire aspirations, a desert of disappointments, sore grievances and heated complaints. And it will also be one of the arguments, fiery words from those who feel threatened by Kishor. He will be asked to say what exactly he means by 'Jan Suraj', exactly as JP was asked to define 'Purna Kranti'."Gopalkrishna Gandhi, in The Telegraph
The Neighbourhood in Turmoil, Lessons for India
Writing for The Hindu, Suhasini Haider points out how India's responses to the recent (non-electoral) regime changes in the neighbourhood, that is, in Myanmar, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, are starkly different from its approach to the same countries when they were in similar situations around six years ago.
"A second lesson that seems to have been learnt is that New Delhi's messaging now is focused on people in the neighbourhood rather than just those in power. In Afghanistan, for example, the Modi government spent months in careful negotiation with Pakistani officials to ensure it could send 50,000 MT of wheat meant for the Afghan people, despite the fact that it has no diplomatic engagement with either Islamabad or Kabul otherwise."Suhasini Haider, in The Hindu
She also argues that there are specific lessons that India can learn from the "neighbourhood in turmoil," one of which concerns 'neutrality' in foreign policy with respect to developments in the Indian subcontinent.
"A silent or 'neutral' position cannot mark the Modi government's response to the changes in the way it has with Russia's invasion of Ukraine or China's moves in Hong Kong or the South China Sea region. India faces the direct impact of almost every South Asian country in crisis, in terms of the need for aid and loans or a possible influx of refugees, as movements that develop in one neighbouring country are often mirrored in another. Therefore, they must be watched more closely."Suhasini Haider, in The Hindu
Time For a Re-set
In his weekly column for the Indian Express, P Chidambaram asserts that the Indian government must re-set its economic policies with the "courage, clarity and speed of 1991." He also insists, however, that there must be a balance in centre-state relations for this goal to be achieved.
"The case for a re-set is compelling. The country will not accept jobless growth, much less the job-loss growth of the last few years. The cornerstone of growth must be 'jobs', everything else will flow from the creation of jobs. From the lofty promise of creating two crore jobs a year to the pathetic argument that 'selling pakoras' is a job, the Modi government has let down hardworking families that had invested everything in educating their children and now face a situation of no jobs. The Modi government may be able to get away, temporarily, with the seductive appeal of Hindutva, but soon the youth will realize that Hindutva (and a polarized and divided society) will not bring jobs to anyone, whether he/she is a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh or belonging to any other faith or an atheist."P Chidambaram in The Indian Express
Building for the Next Billion: Democratising Payments
Writing for The Times of India, Nitya Sharma, CEO & Co-Founder of Simpl, says that in order to achieve a more inclusive, cash-less economy for India, it is necessary to democratize payments and establish a trust-based relationship between merchants and their customers.
"Trust will be the bedrock of the reimagined business model along with product design and UX. Assuming that a significant part of the Next Billion users will have a trust deficit as well, it's necessary to have Trust baked into the business model along with a heightened focus on trust at every stage of the product development process."Nitya Sharma in the Times of India
Shiv Visvanathan, in his piece for The Telegraph, writes that the communal riots that occur today have changed in three ways compared to the "sporadic, spontaneous and short-lived" riots that occurred till the 1970s; and that "Jahangirpuri semaphores the new grammar of riots reinforcing majoritarianism."
"The Jahangirpuri riots emphasise that the majority, rather than being a trustee of the margins, now treats them as dispensable. Minorities in the language of genocide are ethnic waste. The bulldozer symbolises a contempt for law and the normative structures of democracy. The obscenity of Jahangirpuri could not be clearer. Now minorities, as defined by the majority, are meant to inaugurate the post-normalcy of hate. Such a situation allows for neither reconciliation nor ethical repair."Shiv Visvanathan in The Telegraph
If It Doesn’t Learn From the Past, the West Can Lose India (Again)
In his column for The Times of India, Rahul Sagar, a professor at NYU Abu Dhabi, argues that the West should not be deluded by what they might perceive as the power dynamics of a "rules-based order" consisting of "diktats that Indians are supposed to quietly obey." Writing with reference to India's stance on the war in Ukraine, he says that a sense of fair play is essential for friendly relations between countries.
"In recent times, we have seen this pattern — where India is berated for deviating from 'civilised norms' and then berated once more for having the temerity to remind others of their deviation from 'civilised norms' — in full play. The charged commentary on India's nuanced position on Russia and Ukraine, a conflict it neither created nor desired, is the most recent manifestation of this trend. Europeans must have natural gas from Russia, but India, where inflation threatens to send millions into poverty, is castigated for wanting the same. Meanwhile, those who highlight the West's self-dealing are decried as vestiges of the past prone to 'anti-Americanism'".Rahul Sagar in the Times of India
We Won the Cup, You Doubting Thomases
Rohit Mahajan asserts in his piece for The Tribune that while it is "unfair to compare brilliance," the Indian badminton team's victory in the Thomas Cup "surely, scores over" the gold medal won by boxer Nikhat Zareen in the World Championships and over Indian chess grandmaster Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa's second victory within a year over reigning five-time World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen.
"There are several reasons for this. One is the rarity of the feat — this is India's first Thomas Cup title and the first medal since 1979, while Nikhat is the fifth Indian world champion in women's boxing. Two, badminton is an 'open' sport in which there's no limit on the weight and size of the competitor. For reasons far too complex to get into here, Indians struggle at top international events in sports that are not bound by weight categories — athletics or football or tennis or swimming or rowing, for example."Rohit Mahajan in The Tribune
The Vanished War
Talking about news fatigue with respect to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Upala Sen, writing for The Telegraph, points out how little attention the war is receiving as the world takes little time to shift its focus from one event to another.
"Around the time when Deepika Padukone was making everyone sit up with her 'one day Cannes will be in India', Kremlin announced that the Azovstal steelworks had been finally 'liberated'. Today, you might say Azovstal who, but tomorrow who knows which spare part you will be missing by way of collateral damage."Upala Sen in The Telegraph
Going beyond Ukraine, she chides the news consumers for not getting their preferences right.
"Right now, around 13.6 million children under five years suffer from wasting or acute malnutrition. But you are not listening, are you? You are too busy devouring information about Mr Melon… sorry Mr Elon’s robust denial of allegations of sexual misconduct."Upala Sen in The Telegraph