Sunday View: The Best Opinion Reads Curated Just for You

Dragon Invites Elephant to Dance

The current standoff between India and China, P Chidambaram writes in The Indian Express, will not be aggravated into a full-blown war as both countries are grappling with the COVID-19 crisis and fear an economic recession in 2020-21. Both India and China have been militarily stronger since 1962 when they first clashed over the McMohan line.

He argues that Prime Minister Modi and President Xi do not share a warm personal relationship. Their negotiations have been restricted to matters of trade between two countries and China does not even recognise India’s rights over the territory India claims its own.

But this tension, Chidambaram writes, will only benefit PM Modi who has received the full support of the government till now and will continue to have that back-up even on this matter.

Besides, while China may be confident that it is militarily stronger in 2020 than in 1962, China knows that India is also militarily stronger in 2020 than in 1962. Unlike 1962, a war between the two countries in 2020 will not throw up a clear winner. China experts are agreed that whatever be the motivation for China’s recent actions, it cannot be to start a full-fledged war with India.

Holding Gandhi to Sensibilities of Today

Meghnad Desai writes in The Indian Express about how criticism against Mahatma Gandhi has not yet stopped even after his death, 72 years ago.

The majority of the criticism comes amid the Black Lives Matter movement as Gandhi distinguished between the native Africans and those who had come from India as merchants during the Zulu rebellion in South Africa where Gandhi had volunteered to create an Indian Ambulance Corps on the British side.

Despite the fact Gandhi led an anti-imperialist struggle in India, his critics expect Gandhi to have stood against the oppressors and fight for the rights of a section of people even a hundred years ago, writes Desai.

As in every criticism of Gandhi, the evidence is in his own words which are cited by his critics. The principal criticism is that during the Zulu rebellion in South Africa, Gandhi volunteered to create an Indian Ambulance Corps on the British side. In fact, the Corps was asked to rescue and nurse injured Zulus who would have been neglected otherwise. The injured Zulus showed gratitude by gestures but neither could speak the other’s language. The argument is Gandhi should have joined the Zulus’ fight. Gandhi distinguished between the native Africans and those who had come from India as merchants or indentured labourers. Gandhi’s fight was to assert the rights of Indians, whom Queen Victoria had promised equal treatment with all her imperial subjects in her Declaration of 1858.

No More Mistakes Please

After rumours that Home Minister Amit Shah is no longer PM Modi’s favourite after mishandling of several domestic issues, Shah is back with a series of stage-managed TV interviews, writes Tavleen Singh in The Indian Express.

The interviews, she says, are full of lies and barely mentioned CAA protests across the country which flared up after his speeches.

As for PM Modi, she argues that his governance skills are being questioned as India faced economic collapse even before the pandemic.

As the country opens up after the lockdown, it is testing time for the PM and he should begin by implementing the economic reforms he promised, not by playing dirty politics against non-BJP states.

Now that India is opening up without ‘flattening the curve’, we are going to need the Prime Minister to really lead. He could begin by implementing those reforms that promise to make the revival of the economy easier. It is hard to remember a bleaker moment in recent Indian history. Our healthcare services are showing signs of collapse despite the lockdowns. And, it is going to be a long while before the wheels of the economy begin to turn at enough speed to create new jobs and bring back those that have been lost in the past three months.

What the West can Learn from India’s Ease with the Past

Swapan Dasgupta writes in the Times of India about how the cruel death of Georg Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked anger and violence even in some of the western nations where policing is “much more restrained and racial discrimination is more subtle.”

He also touches upon the pulling down and vandalism of statues in western countries of some of the most celebrated icons of the 20th century like Winston Churchill, for their ‘sins’ against civil rights.

Swapan highlights, that even India in the course of time, has dealt with removing symbols of colonialism which no longer support the present mood, while some names of the colonial rulers are still being used here.

We in India are quite accustomed to removing symbols of the past that no longer suit the present mood. In Delhi, there is a necropolis on the city outskirts with the imposing bronze statues that once graced the central vista; and there is a richer collection in Barrackpore of the imperial stalwarts that once grandly presided over Kolkata’s Maidan. As for road names, few of the old names commemorating colonial rulers are still in use, though popular usage persists with Connaught Place, Mount Road and Flora Fountain.

A Green Future of Work

Economies need to downshift to sustainable options in order to trigger ‘limitless growth’, writes Rajat Chaudhuri in The New Indian Express.

He talks about how the world of technology and how the evolution of AI has undergone disruptions due to the novel coronavirus and how focus needs to shift to renewable sources of energy and adoption of circular economy concepts like reuse, reduce and recycle.

Chaudhuri also highlights how the renewables sector is expected to grow in the future and how the government needs to incentivise the MSME sector.

The Covid-19 shock in April itself resulted in job losses for 27 million youth in India. This virus has brought humanity to a fork in the path, a decisive moment, which offers the opportunity to steer away from unsustainable development. Now that links between certain diseases, climate change and unsustainable production and consumption have been exposed and while we in India get battered with overlapping climate-related catastrophes like cyclones and locust attacks, this is an opportune moment for a radical policy shift towards a green economy. The clock is ticking away.   

Time to Tune Policy, People and Process

S Vaidhyasubramaniam writes in The New Indian Express about how a multi-stakeholder effort is essential to revisit some of the existing education policies and restructure the learning environment which is currently paralysed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He writes about the fears of students dropping out of schools and colleges and also points out how India has managed to ensure that the academic year of 2019-20 comes to a successful close. He stresses on the need for participation and representation in three sectors — policy, people and process.

A quick realisation dawned with various interim solutions that ensured while institutions were closed, learning wasn’t. We managed to pull back students by pushing certain reforms. The world is at a crossroads now and every country is symptomatic with their own challenges of post-Covidian education reforms. India is no exception with the kind of complexities it is confronted with.

How Kerala Mistreats its Star Elephants in the Name of Piety

Exhaustion and mistreatment are causing the deaths of several elephants each year, writes Malini Nair, in the Times of India.

The recent death of a pregnant female elephant in Kerala led to a massive outpouring of grief.

In a country where elephants are decorated and used in holy ceremonies and honoured with devotional tasks, it’s heartbreaking that so many of these animals have to go through such torture and pain, she writes.

Almost every year, these tableaus turn into tragedies. Exhausted, stressed male elephants, many in testosterone season of musth, run amok, causing deaths and injuries. Last year, 24 instances of elephants running amok were reported over 23 days in peak festival season. In 2019, by the time the fun and excitement of the festivities had quietened, 16 captive elephants had died, according to V K Venkitachalam of the Thrissur-based Heritage Animal Task Force, one among the few strong voices that have been speaking up against the tyranny of faith inflicted on the animals every year. Many of them had died young, for lack of care, seemingly starved and tethered in waterlogged areas.

Organs of State Have Failed the Marginalised

Arun S Khobragade argues in The Indian Express that the policies designed for the maginalised sections by the executive arm of the government are designed to fail. Hence, negligible interest in them of the people from the SC and ST communities.

The RBI, he says, is no different. Even though it has a policy for lending to marginalised sections, it collects no data to assess how many have actually benefited from the scheme. It has no data on how many loans have been rejected to the people from SC/ST communities and why.

Khobragade writes that to fix the lopsided policies, India needs more young SC/ST men and women as civil servants on the policymaking tables. The elected representatives also need to be more vocal about the policies not working and the marginaised groups need their own think tanks where they can present hard data to the elected leaders.

The 4% share in the Public Procurement Policy (2012) is actually a purchase preference policy, and not an affirmative action policy. It entails that the SC/ST vendor meets the lowest price criterion, thereby putting the new entrant on a par with well-entrenched firms — ignoring the operational cost difference between them. This explains the negligible response from SC/ST entrepreneurs. The 2017-18 data — this is six years after implementation of the policy — states that the share of procurement from MSMEs owned by SC/STs is 0.01%, or Rs 442.52 crore, against the total procurement of Rs 24,226.51 crore from MSMEs.

#DalitLivesMatter: Why We Don’t Care About this Hashtag

SA Aiyar, in his latest column for The Times of India, writes about how crimes against Dalits routinely go unreported and violence based on caste, religion and gender is still prevalent in the society.

SA Aiyar, writes about the police brutality against the Dalit community in India and how the atrocities against them continue to scale each day.

He urges for the need to protest against the brutalities and violence against the Dalits.

If indeed Indians wish to protest against the most egregious of historical and current outrages, that should be ‘Dalit Lives Matter’. Dalits will tell you that the police often refuse to register cases against upper castes. For what it is worth — a gross undercount — the National Crime Records Bureau shows that crimes against Dalits rose from 33,655 in 2012 to 40,801 in 2016. One Dalit was killed in Gujarat for daring to ride a horse — supposedly an upper caste monopoly. Another Dalit in Uttarakhand was killed for daring to eat at a wedding table for upper castes. The media hardly noticed.

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